Bumgarner: 'Still got some work to do; I can be better'
Marco Scutaro went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored as the Giants narrowly beat the Cubs 3-2.
CHICAGO – They never saw fit to add any padding to the walls in 99 years of baseball at Wrigley Field.
That didn’t persuade Pablo Sandoval from slowing down.
Sandoval survived a tumble into the stands while making an incredible catch of a foul pop in the ninth inning, and provided a tremendous assist to the Giants bullpen on a day they didn’t have closer Sergio Romo at their disposal.
Santiago Casilla got the final six outs by himself – including a huge double-play grounder to strand both of Jeremy Affedlt’s runners – and the Giants pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
Madison Bumgarner took a shutout into the seventh inning and Marco Scutaro continued to climb out from his slow start with a three-hit game. The prime performance belonged to Casilla, who struck out the next two hitters following Sandoval’s daring catch to record his first save.
Cubs pinch hitter Steve Clevenger stayed down in the dirt with an apparent injury after he foul tipped a curveball into Buster Posey’s glove to end it.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner provided another solid outing while throwing 70 of 110 pitches for strikes.
But the last strike cost him his shutout, as Dioner Navarro lofted a two-run home run into the left field bleachers. Navarro entered this series with no pinch homers in his career; now the switch-hitter has two in the past two games – one from each side of the plate.
Until then, Bumgarner kept the ball down and stayed mostly ahead of hitters. He pitched out of his biggest jam in the second inning, when Alfonso Soriano singled and took second base on a wild and unnecessary throw from right fielder Hunter Pence that missed the cutoff man. Scott Hairston was hit by a pitch, and then the Cubs executed a double-steal. But Bumgarner struck out the next two batters, issued an intentional walk to No.8 hitter Alberto Gonzalez, then got pitcher Jeff Samardzija to ground out.
Bumgarner has a 1.77 ERA through three starts.
Romo was available in an emergency only to keep his workload down, so the Giants had to close by committee. But as Casilla showed, sometimes the biggest pitches come before the ninth inning.
Jeremy Affeldt got the last out of the seventh but allowed the first two batters to reach on a single and a walk in the eighth. Casilla entered and got a potential double-play grounder from Soriano that Sandoval couldn’t handle. Shortstop Brandon Crawford scooped up the deflection, though, and threw just in time for the out at first base.
Then after an intentional walk to pinch hitter Nate Schierholtz loaded the bases, Casilla got another badly needed ground ball. Wellington Castillo hit it to shortstop and Crawford started an easy double play to end the threat.
At the plate
The Giants managed to create traffic on the bases against Samardzija, who struck out 13 in his previous start at Atlanta.
They broke through for their first run in the fifth inning, when Andres Torres doubled and Gregor Blanco lined a two-out single to right field. Blanco was thrown out trying to stretch a double, but it wasn’t a bad gamble because he kept the Cubs from trying to gun down Torres at the plate.
The Giants added a run in the sixth when Scutaro led off with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Pablo Sandoval’s single.
And they took advantage of a little luck and some Cubs mistakes to go up 3-0 in the seventh. Brandon Crawford beat out an infield hit and Bumgarner was safe after the Cubs fielded his sacrifice and threw too late to get the lead runner.
The Cubs were more successful after Blanco laid down a bunt, as reliever Michael Bowden threw in time to force Crawford at third base. But Scutaro followed with his third hit of the game, and a jacketed Bumgarner lumbered home.
He probably would’ve been out at the plate by 10 feet, but it was “miss the cutoff man day” for right fielders. Scott Hairston’s wild throw dribbled through the infield and Bumgarner scored without a play.
Scutaro was just 2 for 23 over his first six games, but he appears to have his stroke back. After a three-hit game, he’s now got 10 hits in his last 19 at-bats.
As for Buster Posey, he’s still hitless in this series. And for the second day in a row, he got smoked on the upper left arm by a pitch. He didn’t appear too happy about it this time, either.
In addition to his tumbling catch over the brick wall in the ninth, Sandoval made one heck of a clean pick of a short hop to start a double play in the fourth.
There was a funny show of sportsmanship in the fifth inning. Alberto Gonzalez tried to recoil from an inside pitch and ended up hitting a tapper in front of the plate. Bumgarner picked it up and Gonzalez jogged over and held out his hand to be tagged.
One other note: Giants manager Bruce Bochy said prior to the game that he “wasn’t smart enough” to pick a center fielder between Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco, after he had to scratch Angel Pagan with a sore wrist. Turns out the manager was indecisive, too. He originally had Torres in center but changed his mind and went with Blanco in the middle with Torres in left.
Pagan came off the bench as part of a double switch to play center field in the eighth inning.
The Cubs announced 34,778 paid. They gave out Darwin Barney commemorative Gold Gloves. Barney is on the disabled list.
The Giants and Cubs probably can put away the thermals and ski masks when they wrap up their four-game series Sunday afternoon. Temperatures are forecasted to reach all the way up to 70 degrees. Tim Lincecum (1-0, 4.91 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Edwin Jackson (0-2, 5.73).