Justin Turner led off the game with a home run and Matt Kemp added a two-run shot in the first inning, and it proved enough as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants, 4-2 Tuesday night, stretching their lead in the NL West to four-and-a-half games, with five games remaining in the season for the Giants.
Madison Bumgarner started for the Giants and after a shaky first inning, during which he hit a batter and surrendered two home runs, settled down and pitched a total of seven innings plus, giving up four runs on six hits, with no walks and five strikeouts. Bumgarner faced the minimum number of batters over the second through seventh innings, throwing a total of 108 pitches. He left the game with one out in the eighth, after Justin Turner hit his second solo home run of the game.
Zack Greinke was extremely sharp, his only mistake through the first eight innings being the curve ball that he left hanging for Madison Bumgarner to hammer his fourth home run and his fourteenth and fifteenth RBI’s of the year, continuing to make a case for being named the Silver Slugger winner for 2014 among pitchers. Greinke scattered six hits over eight innings, while walking none and striking out five. He threw 117 pitches in all.
There were plenty of fireworks in the bottom of the first, beginning with the more traditional form, a home run off the bat of Justin Turner to open the game. Maybe Bumgarner was still finding his groove, or maybe the home run rattled him, but he hit the next batter, Yasiel Puig, on the foot on a 2-2 pitch, and tempers flared immediately and the benches cleared for the inevitable stand-off until things calmed down a bit.
The Dodgers got the better end of the deal though, because Matt Kemp followed an Adrian Gonzalez fly ball to center, with his 24th home run of the year, making the score 3-0 in the first inning. It made the Giants’ job that much harder, against a guy who was 4-0 with a sub-2 ERA against the Giants this year, going into the game.
There was an Instant Replay review after Scott Van Slyke led off the fourth inning by popping a ball into no-man’s land, with Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford, and Joe Panik all converging on the play, leaving second base unattended. Blanco went into a slide, gathered in the ball on one bounce, got to his feet, and rifled a throw into second, where the hustling Sandoval, coming over from third base, took it and applied the tag to the sliding Van Slyke for the out.
Earlier in the second inning, Sandoval dived to his right to make a back-handed catch of a ball hit hard off the bat of Zack Greinke, and got to his feet to make the long throw just in time. The last time Greinke pitched against the Giants was that 17-0 game, in which the Dodger pitcher had a double and a home run, and it seemed as though Sandoval was not going to let it happen again.
Sergio Romo came on to replace Bumgarner in the eighth after the second Turner home run, and took care of the last two batters quickly. Kenley Jansen came for the Dodgers to close out the game in the ninth inning.
The game was important to the Giants because they knew already that the Pittsburgh Pirates had defeated the Atlanta Braves, 3-2, thus applying pressure to the Giants to win and keep pace for the right to host the single wild card playoff game, the winner advancing to play the washington Nationals in a five-game National League Division Series.
With the Pirates taking a full game lead over the Giants, San Francisco’s chances slip a little more, making the whole proposition seem almost impossible, given the news that Angel Pagan is done for the season.
But impossible does not really exist in baseball, does it?