May 19, 2011
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Our MLB Insider takes a look at the Giants' 3-1 victory over the host Dodgers on Thursday night in the curtain closer of a two-game series at Chavez Ravine.Thus endeth thy drought: Left-hander Madison Bumgarner entered the game 0-6 in eight starts for the Giants, but he'd posted three consecutive quality starts to establish a modicum of momentum, and it carried over into the last game of San Francisco's six-game road trip. Although he allowed a baserunner in each of the first six innings, Bumgarner never faced more than four batters in a frame, didn't allow a runner past first base through the first eight innings and got sharper as the game wore on. In complete command of his full arsenal of pitches throughout, he ran the count to three balls only four times and was one out away from his first career shutout before being chased by Jerry Sands' RBI double.
RECAP: Bumgarner tosses gem, Giants sweep Dodgers
A little something extra: Giants catcher Buster Posey, who entered the game 9-for-19 (.474) in his past five games but hadn't collected an extra-base hit since doubling on April 30, opened the second inning with a two-bagger to right field of Dodgers righty Chad Billingsley. Posey scored the game's first run when Mike Fontenot, 3-for-24 (.125) over his previous seven games but back at shortstop in the wake of Mark DeRosa's return to the disabled list, spanked a two-out double to left. Both hits were to the opposite field, the product of the same approach that proved successful Wednesday night against lefty Clayton Kershaw.Self-help guru: If the Dodgers looked at Bumgarner's 2-for-14 offensive line for the year and figured he was a typical weak-hitting pitcher, they soon learned that Bumgarner is very much a pitcher who knows how to handle the bat. He smoked a double into the right-center gap to open the bottom of the third inning, moved to third on a bunt single by Andres Torres and scored to give himself a 2-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Freddy Sanchez.No second opinion at second: For one play at least, the Giants were probably glad that instant replay has not yet been expanded. After Jamey Carroll's one-out single in the bottom of the third, Juan Castro hit a comebacker that Bumgarner fielded and threw to shortstop Fontenot at second base in hopes of starting a double play. The throw was on the money, but Fontenot lost his handle on it as soon as it hit his glove. Second-base umpire Jerry Layne ruled that the bobble came on the exchange from glove to bare hand, calling Carroll out at second, but replays were far from conclusive in backing the arbiter's opinion. Nonetheless, instead of having two on and one out, Bumgarner had to deal with a runner on first and two out, and Andre Ethier's popup in foul ground near third base ended the inning.Knee's fine, thanks: Freddy Sanchez, who sat out Tuesday's loss at Colorado to rest his swollen -- and surgically repaired -- left knee after collecting three hits on Monday, banged out two hits Wednesday and picked up his second RBI of the night Thursday with a two-out single to center that scored Miguel Tejada, who had opened the sixth with a single. After going 0-for-4 in the first game of the road trip at Chicago, Sanchez closed the trip by going 7-for-15 with a double and three RBIs. He also turned in a spectacular defensive play in the second inning by sliding across the right-field line while hauling in an overthrow from third base by Tejada on an infield single by Juan Uribe, preventing the former Giants infielder from moving into scoring position.Tejada turning it on: Hitless in both games at Chicago, Tejada trudged to Colorado with a .195 bating average on the year and was the object of widespread scorn among Giants fans. It's going to take more than seven hits in 16 at-bats over four games for the veteran infielder and former American League MVP to win anyone over, but his third multi-hit game of the trip pushed hit batting average to .221, the highest it's been since it was at .224 on April 17.Better than it looked: For the second road trip in a row, the Giants finished up with the .500 mark that every team sets as its goal before leaving home, and a case could be made that if Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez had made good throws on the crucial comebackers on which they erred, San Francisco could have gone 5-1 instead of 3-3. Regardless, any trip that ends with a sweep of your rivals is a decent trip, and for all of their injury and offensive issues this month, the Giants have won 11 of their past 15 games.
Nate the Great: Right fielder Nate Schierholtz turned in what might have been the defensive play of the Giants' season to date, when with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth he left his feet to make a lunging catch on Jamey Carroll's line drive to end the game. The most impressive part of the catch was the degree of difficulty; when Schierholtz went into his dive he was perfectly lined up with the ball, but as he got closer to the ground he had to extend his glove arm in mid air to reach the slicing, sinking shot.
Injury updates: Closer Brian Wilson, who twisted his left ankle while closing out a wild 8-5 victory Wednesday, came in to get the final out for Madison Bumgarner, but not before making things interesting. Outfielder Aaron Rowand, who jammed his back while lunging for first base in Wednesday's game, took batting practice with the team and remains listed as day-to-day.