By Doug Bruzzone
Special to S.F. Examiner
ORACLE PARK — Madison Bumgarner knew that his team needed him. After going home in the 10th inning of Friday night’s 3-2, 18-inning walk-off win, Bumgarner woke up and checked his phone when the game was in the 16th. He woke up again st 4 a.m., and saw that they had won. That win was costly, as the San Francisco Giants bullpen threw 13 innings.
The Giants had only had two pitchers – plus one starter if the game went long – available. So, before Saturday’s game, which started barely 12 hours after the last one finished, he went up to Bruce Bochy and told him, “I’m good for 140 [pitches].”
“That wasn’t gonna happen,” Bochy said after the game, “But he was just sending a message that he was gonna get deep.”
Bumgarner did go deep, striking out seven and giving up just two runs while pitching into the eighth inning in a 5-2 Giants win, clinching the club’s first series win of the season. He was visibly angry at himself when Bochy came to pull him after one batter in the eighth, and that was because he thought he hadn’t accomplished his goal.
“I don’t feel like I did enough. In my mind, eight was the minimum for a day like today,” Bumgarner said. “Feel like I gotta get at least one more [inning] out there and save those guys because last night was tough on everybody.”
What Bumgarner did was plenty. In the first five innings, he was dominant, giving up just two baserunners while the Giants built a 3-0 lead. He faltered in the sixth and seventh, giving up one run each, before an eighth-inning leadoff double from Chris Iannetta chased him from the game.
Reyes Moronta, who only pitched one inning in Friday’s game, came in and ended the threat, striking out the next three Rockies batters. Sam Dyson, who also threw just one inning Friday, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his first save of the year.
As much as Bumgarner was the star, the team needed the offense to step up early. They did so with some small ball. Gerardo Parra, hitting ninth with Bumgarner in the eight-spot — a lineup technique Bruce Bochy last used on August 22 of last year — led off the bottom of the third with a single to left field. Steven Duggar followed with an infield single, and the home team had two on and no one out.
Two sacrifices followed: Yangervis Solarte bunted Duggar and Parra over to second and third, respectively, and then Kevin Pillar hit a sacrifice fly that scored the first run and advanced Duggar to third.
After Friday night’s seemingly endless stretch without offense, one run already seemed like the motherlode, but Buster Posey hit a double into right field to stretch the lead to 2-0. Two innings later, Pillar homered to extend the lead to 3-0.
Bochy called Pillar — who later hit a solo home run, his fourth as a Giant — a “shot in the arm.”
He’s been playing well on both sides of the ball, which the Giants have desperately needed.
“We just played the game well in all facets,” Bochy said. “Executed nicely. Bunt, sac fly, big hit by Buster, two out hit there. Tacked on with some sac flies there. Nice defense. Really well-played game. That’s saying a lot about these guys. That was a long night last night and short rest, and they came out and played well.”
Colorado’s first run came in the top of the sixth. With Charlie Blackmon on first base, Garrett Hampson doubled down the right field line. Parra, known for his strong throwing arm, had a chance to throw Blackmon out at home, but the ball kicked away from third baseman Evan Longoria, and Blackmon crossed home plate uncontested.
Bumgarner ended the top of the sixth with a called strike three on Nolan Arenado. With a runner on third base and two outs, Arenado took what clearly seemed to be a ball that was almost a foot inside, but the pitch was called a strike. Arenado, the brightest star on the Rockies, vehemently disagreed, angrily berating home plate umpire DJ Reyburn, then tossing his helmet and throwing his bat, but the call stood, and the inning ended.
The second Colorado run came an inning later, when Mark Reynolds launched a 2-1 Bumgarner fastball into the left field bleachers to close the Giants lead to 3-2.
The Rockies wouldn’t score another run. Bumgarner and the two available relievers combined to shut them down, and the Giants added two runs in the eighth on two sacrifice flies to extend their lead to 5-2. They now have a chance to sweep on Sunday.
“I’m pretty excited about the way we’re playing and guys we have here now,” Bumgarner said. “I think we’re gonna be a good team in this division and I’m excited about it for sure.”