Madison Bumgarner threw seven shutout innings and Buster Posey clobbered a second-inning grand slam to lead the San Francisco Giants over the San Diego Padres, 11-3, tonight in Peoria, Arizona, under warm, cloudy skies. Newly announced Opening Day starting pitcher Andrew Cashner was hit hard during his three and two-thirds innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits, with one walk.
The Giants got things started in the top of the first when Gregor Blanco drew a lead-off walk. Then, after Brandon Belt flied out to the wall in center field, Pablo Sandoval doubled just inside the left field line, Blanco scoring easily. After a Buster Posey ground out to third, Hunter Pence singled in Pablo with a second run, but the inning ended when Joaquin Arias popped out to first baseman Tommy Medica in foul territory.
After Bumgarner had quickly dispensed with the Padres in the bottom of the first, the Giants began the barrage again in the top of the second. Brandon Crawford led off with a double, Juan Perez flied out to left field, and Bumgarner reached safely on a tough error by Everth Cabrera, on a ball bounding away from him behind second base. Blanco plated Crawford with a solid single to right, and then, after Belt’s swinging strike out, Pablo singled to load the bases, setting the table for Buster, who obliged by blasting a grand slam, bringing the score to 7-0. The Giants added one more run in the fourth, when Arias bounced yet another ball past Cabrera to score Buster, making the score 8-0.
Everth Cabrera played in tough luck situations all night. He was simply not where the ball was hit, and though he made valiant efforts, again and again, he repeatedly came up short. At one point MLB Baseball showed a clip of five agonizingly tough balls, none of which was successfully played by Cabrera. It was really odd how the ball kept finding a way to sneak past him, especially when I compare the ball the Cabrera himself hit to lead off the game, which was rocketed directly at Brandon Crawford, effectively eating him alive. Hard to say which is the preferable way to go.
Cabrera did rob Buster of a hit in the sixth, by spearing a sharply hit ball between short and third, spinning and gunning him down at first. Gunning him down may be stretching things as Posey was not trying to set any records making his way down the line. That is not meant as a criticism of Buster, who needs to conserve his energy for more pressing responsibilities than trying to beat out a meaningless hit with an 8-0 lead, in a spring training game, especially after he had already hit a grand slam.
The Padres’ Alex Castellanos made a dazzling sliding, rolling catch off the bat of Juan Perez to end the seventh that was truly notable. He was heading for the foul line, with the wall coming at him, so he went into a slide on his right side, snagging the ball, but then doing a 360, rolling over onto his stomach, and then rotating again to his back, hitting the side wall pretty hard. But he bounced up instantly, and jogged off the field to the applause of the home crowd.
Madison Bumgarner continued his spring training mastery, having yet to yield a run. He pitched seven complete, giving up five hits, while walking one, and striking out nine, on 96 pitches. Juan Gutierrez pitched a scoreless eighth for the Giants, before the Giants erupted in the ninth for three more runs, when Hector Sanchez cleared the bases with a double that got past first, and then rattled around in the right field corner, allowing all three Giants to score.
Giants’ catchers accounted for seven runs, while three Giants had multi-hit games: Pablo (single, double), Posey (single, home run) and Pence (three singles). On the down side, Javier Lopez had a rocky go of it in the bottom of the ninth, giving up a two-run home run to Kyle Blanks, on the way to giving up three runs altogether, before George Kontos came on to get the final out. It marked the fifth consecutive successful appearance by Kontos, who has given up no runs during that stretch.
On a night when Giants’ starting pitching looked dominant, and the offense came alive in a very satisfying manner, scoring eleven runs for the second consecutive game, I could certainly be persuaded to believe that the Giants will create a little havoc in the NL West this year.