Giants Insider notes: Bumgarner earns win No. 1

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Giants Insider notes: Bumgarner earns win No. 1

May 19, 2011
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Mychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

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.

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

SAN FRANCISCO — With the winning run on second and a bat in his hands, Cory Gearrin allowed himself to dream. He was a second baseman at Mercer University years ago and he entered the night with a 1.000 batting average in the big leagues. Why couldn’t this be his night on the mound and at the plate?

Gearrin stopped on the way to the plate and told Buster Posey that he was going to walk it off. He dug in against right-hander Chad Qualls and waited for the first sinker. He swung over the top of it, but he felt it was a quality hack. And then he missed the next sinker, and then the next. 

“I felt good going into that at-bat,” Gearrin said. “It was fun getting that opportunity. I’ve never faced a sinker like that. I felt like I missed it … by a lot.”

Gearrin can take solace in two facts. First, using his own sinker, he pitched three shutout innings, more than earning his keep, and he was a well-deserved winning pitcher in a 4-3 win over the Rockies that became official one minute after midnight.

Second, perhaps he gave the next hitter, Denard Span, a better view of an opposing pitcher’s repertoire. 

“Yeah ... he gave me a lot of information during that at-bat,” Span said as he laughed. 

Okay, so maybe Gearrin’s contributions were limited to the mound, but oh what a job he did against one of the best lineups in the National League. Span didn’t glean anything from Gearrin’s brief battle, but he didn’t need to. He spat on a changeup and then ripped a sinker into right, allowing Gorkys Hernandez to race home for a 14th-inning victory. 

Span, who is open about his distrust of birds, had spent nearly two hours standing under a circling flock of seagulls. Between pitches, he often dropped his hands onto his knees, looking more eager than anyone for the night to end. 

“Those birds were dropping stuff all around me,” he said. “I was like, you know what man, I don’t got time for this.”

The single gave the Giants back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. It validated so much good work, from the five relievers who got the ball to Gearrin, to the Brandons who turned a snazzy double play in the 11th, to Buster Posey, who twice threw out runners at second in extra innings. Gearrin shouted out the defense in his post game media session. 

“It’s not news to us that we’ve got gold glovers all over the field,” he said. 

The Giants trailed by a pair after Matt Cain hung a curveball to Mark Reynolds, but they chipped away. The Rockies were the jumpier team in extra innings, but every rally was cut down by stellar defense and quality pitches. Gearrin threw 34 of them. 

The veteran right-hander had never before recorded more than six outs in a big league game. He got nine outs Tuesday, giving Bochy one extension after another as he battled to make it through a game shorthanded. With Conor Gillaspie headed to the DL, the Giants had just three position players on the bench. That meant Ty Blach was used as a pinch-runner. Jeff Samardzija pinch-hit in the 11th. Bochy thought of using Matt Moore in the 14th when the pitcher’s spot came up. Hunter Strickland was warming up to pitch the 15th, but …

“I could have hit Moore — I probably should have,” Bochy said, smiling. “But Cory is a pretty good athlete and had a pretty good average going into that at-bat. The numbers swayed me.”

Gearrin got his first career at-bat last season and singled. He has not even taken batting practice since that day, but he was fired up when given the opportunity. He was still so fired up after the Giants chased Span into the outfield that he didn’t mind the fact that his shiny 1.000 batting average has been cut in half. 

“I got to use that line for a year,” he said. “But I’ll gladly sacrifice the 1.000 average for a walk-off win.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

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SAN FRANCISCO — This, at long last, is a winning streak. A modest one, but still. 

Denard Span hit a walk-off single to right in the bottom of the 14th inning, giving the Giants a 4-3 win that became official one minute after midnight. The Giants have back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. 

The Giants led early, fell behind on a three-run dinger, and then chipped away until the game went to extras. Buster Posey twice gunned runners down at second to help keep the score tied and the bullpen held tough, with Cory Gearrin throwing three scoreless innings. 

Gearrin had a chance to win it for himself in the 14th, but he struck out with Gorkys Hernandez on second. Span promptly singled. If you’re just waking up for work, here are five things to know from a night when the seagulls outnumbered the humans … 

--- Matt Cain needs an assist on the first run of the night. With Gorkys Hernandez on first, he got a sacrifice bunt down on a two-strike curveball that was headed for the dirt. Hernandez went to second and promptly scored on Denard Span’s single to right. The curveball wasn’t so kind in the sixth. With a runner on, the Giants intentionally walked lifelong nemesis Nolan Arenado to get to Mark Reynolds. Cain hung a curve and Reynolds crushed it to left for a three-run homer. 

--- The Giants got a run back in the sixth when Brandon Crawford’s deep fly allowed Buster Posey to trot in from third. Crawford leads the majors with nine sacrifice flies. He also turned a ridiculous double play that can’t adequately be described, except to say that he should expand his trophy case. 

--- Kelby Tomlinson came off the bench to tie it in the bottom of the eighth. His single to right brought Brandon Belt in from third. Tomlinson is 9 for 27 as a pinch-hitter this season. That’ll keep you on the chartered jets. 

--- Sam Dyson, with a fastball that reached 97 and an infield defense that was just as firm, pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings in extras. What a find. 

--- With the go-ahead run on first and no outs in the 13th, Nolan Arenado put down a sacrifice bunt. That's one of the five best moments of the Giants' season.