With superior pitching, sparkling defense, and the long ball, the San Francisco Giants rocked the Cincinnati Reds today, at Great American Ball Park, 6-1, as Madison Bumgarner (7-3, 2.85 entering the game) gave up a first-inning solo home run and went on to retire 23 of the next 25 batters he faced.
Michael Morse hit a two-run rocket into the upper deck in the third inning, and Brandon Crawford went one better in the fourth, hammering a first-pitch offering over the wall, for a three-run punch-out of the Reds, making the score 5-1.
To round off today’s hat-trick, making up for the seven errors they committed in the first two games of the series, the Giants played flawless defense, punctuated by no fewer than six stellar plays, two of them featuring starred plays on both ends of the action.
There was an instant replay reversal ending the top of the third for the Giants, when it was ruled that Brayan Pena was indeed on the bag when he received a wide throw. He ended up being eventually pulled off the bag by his own forward momentum, but the umpiring crew in New York ruled that he had maintained contact with the bag long enough to record the out.
Interestingly enough, CSNBA flashed on the screen that 45.4% of the plays that have been reviewed so far this season, have been reversed. It’s not surprising to see that there was, indeed, a need.
After the tense battle Wednesday night, won by a sudden, two-out uprising in the sixth by the Giants, today’s game was over in the top of the second, as soon as Michael Morse absolutely crushed a Mike Leake delivery into the second deck of Great American Ball Park. Mike Krukow said of Morse’s blast, “It was a swing that would impress every big leaguer in the park.”
The reason I say the game was over after Morse’s homer, is because Todd Frazier hit a first-inning solo shot, and Morse answered right back. And he did it on an inside fastball, designed to handcuff him, and he put it into the second deck.
In the fourth Brandon Crawford came to bat, with Tyler Colvin and Pablo Sandoval on board, and hit a ball over the wall off of Leake to put the Giants ahead by four, and Bumgarner, with a perfect one-two-three from George Kontos in the ninth, did the rest.
A walk and two singles added one more run in the seventh for the Giants. Pablo Sandoval had three singles and scored twice, and Angel Pagan had two singles and a walk, while scoring once.
Who did not score was Billy Hamilton. The Giants handed Billy (5-7 in the first two games of the series) revenge the old-fashioned way, by robbing him in the first on a sprinting, lunging catch by Hunter Pence, leading off the game, and again in the sixth, on the play of the game by Pablo Sandoval.
Sandoval lunged full-length to his right, spearing a sharply-hit grounder, sprang to his feet, and gunned Hamilton down at first. It was the way he caught the ball, and while spinning the opposite way from the momentum of the play, managed to get off a strong throw to Morse at first, that was truly impressive.
The throw was strong, but not necessarily accurate, and it took Morse, not only stretching his full length, but also digging the ball out of the dirt to get the put-out. I gave it two stars, one for each guy.
After being such a disruptive influence the first two games of the series, it was more than pleasant to watch Bumgarner and the Giants’ defense put Hamilton in his place. Even his three hits on Wednesday night did not result in his scoring any runs.
Madison Bumgarner found a new way to win today, rather than the strike out. He ended up with twelve ground-ball outs and two infield pop-ups to accompany his five K’s. It made for some rollicking defense by the left side of the infield.
Bumgarner was obviously paying attention the past two days, when it came to Billy Hamilton. In the third inning, he waited until he had two strikes on Billy, before he showed him the nastiest curve ball on the block. All Hamilton could do was laugh to himself, as he made his way back to the dugout.
Madison Bumgarner was dominant, but the way he pitches helps his own cause. He maintains a quick pace and he throws strikes, which keeps all of the defenders on their toes. His only blemish was a first-inning solo home run off the bat of Todd Frazier, the second big fly of the series for Frazier.
Mike Leake started for the Reds and went five innings, giving up five runs on eight hits. Sean Marshall came in to pitch the sixth and was charged with sixth run of the game. J. J. Hoover and Aroldis Chapman finished out the game.
Mike Leake has owned the Giants; in his last four starts, he was 4-0 against them with a sub-one ERA. The way the Giants are currently playing baseball, he was just another thump on the highway, as the road warriors come home now for a ten-game home-stand, beginning tomorrow night with Matt Cain coming off the disabled list to shore up Giants’ pitching.
Today’s victory, the Giants’ tenth in their last thirteen games, is hugely important, because it marks the fourth consecutive series victory, and it came against the National League Central, against whom the Giants are 8-5.
The win gave San Francisco a 20-12 road record, to go along with the best record in all of baseball. It also gave the Reds the signal that their strong recent run of success against the Orange and Black is over.
Best of all, the win put the Giants in position to keep the pressure on the rest of the National League West. With the trouble the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies are having winning ballgames these days, the Giants just might run away with this thing.