Madison Bumgarner certainly knows how to pitch with the pressure elevated, and tonight was a perfect example.
Bumgarner turned in another decent outing, allowing two earned runs in five and two-thirds innings and picking up his 16th win as the Giants clinched the NL West. He struck out six and possessed incredible command over his pitches, and he has located them too. He made a mistake to Yonder Alonso, but otherwise, he was great. Bumgarner also has an RBI single, one of eight runs scored by the Giants.
Marco Scutaro extended his hitting streak to 12 games, tying a career-high. He knocked in two runs with a fourth-inning single and another in the sixth. Bumgarner hit a ball sharply up the middle for a base hit, and Buster Posey and Hunter Pence made nice contact while driving in runs with a sacrifice fly. San Francisco has continued to pile the runs on, and they picked up their sixth consecutive win.
In the sixth, with two outs and no one on base, Aubrey Huff walked. Francisco Peguero pinch-ran for him, and he stole second. Angel Pagan followed with an infield single, but Brad Boxberger had him picked off. However, the ball got away, Peguero scored and Pagan got to second. Scutaro lined a pitch on the outer half into right field for an RBI single, scoring Pagan.
San Francisco couldn’t get a baserunner in the seventh, but Brandon Belt went yard in the eighth. He took an outside fastball from lefty Joe Thatcher and lined it into left-center field, impressive considering the deep ballpark, lefty-lefty matchup and limited carry. Even though Belt’s swing was incredible, there’s no denying that pitcher Joe Thatcher made a mistake and that the pitch caught a huge chunk of the plate.
Does this remind anyone of 2010? It should. Buster Posey hit a home run to lead off the eighth inning when the Giants clinched in 2010, extending the Giants’ win and sealing the victory. When Posey went yard, it felt like the Giants couldn’t lose. And when Belt went yard, it became evident that the Giants wouldn’t lose. And, while Belt helped, a Bumgarner deserves a lot of credit.
Bumgarner induced weak contact and got ahead of counts, and the Padres seemed confused. It was tough for them to see the ball, and that’s why Bumgarner is having so much success. Bumgarner tied Kirk Reuter’s franchise record for wins by a lefty with his 16th, and he padded his stats with his performance.
Pablo Sandoval helped Bumgarner by reaching over the wall and tumbling into the seats while catching a foul pop-up in the fourth inning. However, Bumgarner has done almost everything else. Guillermo Mota came in after the two-run homer, and he struck out Cameron Maybin by throwing a nice slider with good movement. Jeremy Affeldt came in for the seventh, and he struck out the side while locating and commanding his pitches very well. Santiago Casilla gave up a run, but Belt got it back with his home run.
Javier Lopez came in to start the ninth, and he threw a perfect slider to get Alonso swinging. Romo came in, and while the Padres hit some balls hard off of him, he protected the lead and didn’t allow a run. Romo didn’t get the save, but he did get the satisfaction of securing a playoff berth for the Giants. San Francisco will now look to earn home-field advantage, which is a daunting task.
But, if they could beat the Dodgers by 11 games and go 15-5 in September, who am I to say they can’t lock up home-field?