Bumgarner on Puig's home run: 'It didn't make much sense to me'
LOS ANGELES – How about this for a major league rookie in a month?
A .417 average, .466 on-base percentage, .699 slugging percentage. Seven home runs, six doubles and a triple. A total of 20 runs and 24 RBIs. And a 21-game hitting streak.
Those are not Yasiel Puig’s numbers in 2013. Those are Buster Posey’s numbers in July of 2010.
The Giants were broken down back then, sitting at 41-40 as late as July 4. Then Posey, still farm fresh, put the team on his grain thresher and drove them into contention. Perhaps Puig can do the same for the Dodgers, inching them up from the bottom of the NL West standings spike by spike, swing by breathtaking, unbelievable swing.
You cannot literally carry a team on your back. Then again, some of Puig’s deeds are downright superhuman.
“It didn’t make much sense for me,” said Madison Bumgarner, asked about the home run he gave up to Puig in the first inning of Monday’s 3-1 loss at Dodger Stadium. “I threw a cutter in for a strike, a cutter in that almost hit his knee, then a changeup off the plate.
“To hit it out … you don’t see many guys do that.”
Bumgarner didn’t give up another hit until the sixth inning – to Puig, of course. By the time these archrivals pushed ahead to the seventh, the score was tied 1-1, Puig was 2 for 3 and the rest of the Dodgers were 0 for 17 with a walk against the Giants’ left-hander.
The tie was broken in the eighth. Yep, Puig again.
Bumgarner exited after giving up a double to Nick Punto and then throwing high after fielding a sacrifice bunt. Giants manager Bruce Bochy called upon George Kontos, just up from Triple-A Fresno.
Kontos threw two sliders. The second one was over the plate. And if Puig hits the good pitches he shouldn’t be expecting …
The only shock was that he ripped a single past shortstop Brandon Crawford’s glove and not a three-run home run into the left field pavilion. (To be renamed the Puig Pen before long, no doubt.)
The Dodgers are still in last place, eight games out in the NL West. (The Giants are fourth, 3 ½ games out.) But the Dodgers only need to shave that deficit of theirs in half over the next few weeks, to justify being a buyer at the trade deadline. Then they could emerge well equipped for a second-half run.
And they have Puig – as much a celestial object as a baseball player at the moment.
Much like the moon controls the tide, a player like Puig can take a team in the doldrums and tug everything in the right direction.
The Giants could use some of that now. Bochy pulled out one of his well worn “buzzard’s luck” references after this one, and the occasion suited it.
Joaquin Arias injured his hamstring while scoring their only run. Buster Posey slipped on wet grass around third base, preventing him from possibly scoring.
Later on, Arias’ spot came up twice with the bases loaded. But the Giants ended up with a lefty-lefty matchup instead, which is precisely what Bochy wanted to avoid while deciding to give Brandon Crawford the day off. (Crawford had missed three games with sprained fingers, he didn’t have his timing after returning over the weekend, and Bochy thought it unwise to have him to try to get it back against a left-handed pitcher.)
Crawford flied out and grounded into a double play.
“It seems these things happen when you get in a stretch like we’re in,” Bochy said.
At least Arias’ injury is not considered serious. It would be too cruel for the Giants to lose one player to a left hamstring injury the night before another of their regulars, Angel Pagan, is to undergo left hamstring surgery that will keep him out until September at the soonest.
Arias said he estimated he might need a couple days. He’ll be reevaluated on Tuesday, Bochy said.
How much more of these injuries and ill fortune can the Giants take?
“That’s a good question,” Bumgarner said. “I hope we don’t have to take any more. I believe in the guys we have out there. It seems like it can’t be going this wrong for too long.”
Besides, Bumgarner is one of those “make your own luck” kind of guys.
“There’s times when you can do no wrong,” he said.
Like October, 2010. Or October, 2012.
“That’s a good month to do it right there,” Bumgarner said.
But first you have to get your ticket punched to October baseball, and the Giants are at .500 for the first time since they were 3-3 to start the season – closer to the balcony than the orchestra seats.
At least the Giants have Pablo Sandoval back. And while they might not have Posey the rookie, a jaw dropper with a paper-thin scouting report, they do have the man he’s grown into.
Posey was asked: Does Puig remind him of anyone?
“Trout and Harper last year were really similar, I would say, as far as the impact they made,” he said.
Maybe Posey didn’t think of himself in those terms when he was a rookie.
Moons don’t give off light. They reflect it.
The Giants have one home run (by Hunter Pence) in their last 10 games. That's one home run in 352 at-bats.
Puig has seven home runs in 77 career at-bats.
Pablo Sandoval didn't make much of an impact in his first game off the disabled list, although he did hit one of his two singles hard and had a chance at an RBI if Posey hadn't slipped.
The main comment I got, at least on Twitter, was that Sandoval looked as big as ever. Bochy said that Sandoval did lose a couple pounds while doing more conditioning work on the DL. But he's not passing the eye test, for what it's worth.
It's just about that time of year. Peter Gammons reported on Twitter that he heard the Giants are considered the frontrunners to acquire Ricky Nolasco from the Marlins. Bob Nightengale of USA Today mirrored that post with his own, saying he spoke to a GM from another club who expressed interest in Nolasco. That GM expected the Giants to win the bidding, too.
I wonder if the Giants could close this deal sooner rather than later. Heath Hembree and Gary Brown, maybe? Or more? Is it worth paying a higher price to get an extra five starts out of Nolasco? And is there any way they could escalate these talks to get Giancarlo Stanton out of South Florida? I'd tend to doubt it. But the Giants have made massive swaps before, and I'm pretty sure the Marlins will have no hesitations about waving a white flag, as Jerry Reinsdorf so famously did all those years ago.
Poor Nick Noonan. It looked like he might have been headed for his second "barely there" stint with Triple-A Fresno. But if Arias' hamstring is not significant enough to put him on the DL, and the initial read is that it's not, then Noonan can go ahead and turn back up the Grapevine.
I thought it was strange that the Giants didn't have a complete game. I wondered if they were the only team that didn't have one. Imagine my shock when I looked it up and saw that on June 24, almost halfway through the season, 12 of the 30 major league teams didn't have a complete game.
Jonathan Sanchez made his first start for the Dodgers' Triple-A Albuquerque club. He gave up six runs on seven hits in three innings. But only one walk!
See what happens to the San Jose Giants when you take the Panda away? They were no-hit by the Modesto Nuts Monday night.