Less than 24 hours after their 18-inning marathon win on Friday, the San Francisco Giants, behind Ace Madison Bumgarner, dispatched the Colorado Rockies once again on Saturday.
Taking the first three of the weekend's four-game series, the G-Men have had success against one of the perennial offensive powerhouses behind strong starts and dominant relief appearances. Thursday night's win saw starter Jeff Samardzija blank the Rox over seven innings, while Friday's extra inning spectacle was off to a great start with lefty Drew Pomeranz's five solid, giving up just two earned runs.
While the Giants are still getting next-to-nothing from their offense, overall, a lone, strong bat is rising to the challenge. Center Fielder Kevin Pillar, who the Giants acquired from Toronto early in the season, has been on an absolute tear with the long ball. Over his past six games, Pillar has blasted four big flies, while contributing 12 RBIs to the cause. One could say that Pillar and the Giant pitching staff are to thank for the team's recent success, winners of four out of five and three straight.
Bumgarner, in particular, was anxious to get back to the grindstone after the way his last outing went, against the San Diego Padres, during which he was hit up for five earned runs through six-plus innings. What was particularly tough to swallow about that one was the fact that Mad Bum had looked quite in-control for most of the outing before running into trouble early in the seventh. After hitting the leadoff batter and giving up a double to the next hitter, manager Bruce Bochy chose to play it "safe" and send in his young phenom-reliever Reyes Moronta.
Sometimes, though, even the stingiest relievers have a rough outing. Moronta's turn to be roughed up had come. And Bumgarner happened to be involved in that as well, as two of his earned runs were tacked on while the flame-throwing reliever was trying to limit the damage. The Padres added insult to injury by taking the lead late and eventually stealing a game, in San Francisco, that looked firmly within the grasp of the Giants throughout most of the affair.
As for Saturday's game, Bumgarner not only brought his A-game, he also provided much-needed rest for the Giant bullpen. Over his seven innings of stellar work, the Giants' Ace limited the Rockies to two earned runs on six hits, while striking out seven and issuing zero free passes. Mad Bum even added to his season's hit total with a single in the fourth. The slugging-pitcher is hitting a cool .333 (BA), while sporting a 1.000 OPS, with a home run.
This weekend's series is already encouraging for San Francisco fans who were preparing for the worst after a disastrous first couple of weeks. Seeing the pitching dominate such a powerful and potent lineup and the offense doing what it has to to come out on top shows the Giants' recipe for success. If the rest of the Giant offense can catch up to Kevin Pillar, even approaching their career averages, more wins are in the future for Bochy's last ride.
Photo: Katie Baumez