Bumgarner throws gem, Giants win 7-0

547130.jpg

Bumgarner throws gem, Giants win 7-0

BOX SCORE
SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner reached an important milestone in his final start of the season, but the Giants' left-hander was more impressed by teammate Conor Gillaspie's first career home run.The rookie's stumbling, falling down inside-the-park home run in the seventh inning capped a stellar night for the defending World Series champs, who are trying to salvage what they can from this disappointing season."If somebody with his speed is able to run around, fall down and still make it, he must have hit it a long way," said Bumgarner after combining with two relievers on a three-hitter in San Francisco's 7-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night. "That's a good first home run story."Bumgarner has a pretty good tale of his own, finishing with a 13-13 record after starting the season 0-6. He won his final five starts at AT&T Park with a 0.54 ERA during that stretch.Against Colorado, Bumgarner was outstanding. He retired 18 of the final 19 batters he faced, did not walk anyone for the second straight start and finished with nine strikeouts.That gave him 191 strikeouts for the season and pushed Bumgarner over 200 innings pitched - a goal he set out for himself coming out of spring training."From last year and earlier this season you've seen the growth in this kid," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's got presence out there, he's got poise and he keeps coming at you."Brandon Belt homered into McCovey Cove while Brandon Crawford added two hits and an RBI for the Giants, who have won two straight following a four-game losing streak.That's little consolation for the defending World Series champs, who will still miss the postseason a year after claiming their first title in 54 years.Colorado only got one runner to third base and lost for the 11th time in 13 games to fall 22 games behind Arizona in the NL West."We did not pitch and when you don't pitch you can't win at this level," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Combine that with the fact that we got three hits ... maybe we're fortunate that we got beat only 7-0."Bochy juggled his lineup slightly, starting Gillaspie at third and moving Pablo Sandoval to first. It seemed to do the trick.Gillaspie singled and scored on Belt's homer in the fourth then stumbled his way around the bases in the seventh for his first career home run.The Giants rookie hit a deep fly ball into the gap in right center that sailed over the head of Colorado outfielder Ty Wiggington. Gillaspie raced around the bases and broke for home when Wiggington overthrew cutoff man Mark Ellis. He tripped after rounding third then had to hustle to beat the throw home from shortstop Tommy Field."I thought for sure I was going to get thrown out," Gillaspie said. "If I wouldn't have fallen I think I would have had it easy. But it worked out and it's pretty exciting."Belt hit his ninth homer, a two-run shot off Rockies starter Alex White, in the fourth. It was Belt's first splash hit and the 84th overall at the Giants waterfront ballpark.The only player younger than the 23-year-old Belt to reach the waters at ATA&T Park is Sandoval, who did it 12 days shy of his 23rd birthday. Giants hitters have done it a total of 60 times, 35 from home run king Barry Bonds.Belt later walked and scored on Crawford's triple in the sixth.That was all the support Bumgarner needed to secure San Francisco's seventh consecutive win over Colorado and 13th overall this season.Bumgarner, the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the World Series last season, allowed only two hits and pitched with runners on base in only two innings - the second and sixth. Each time, he worked out of trouble.Kevin Kouzmanoff doubled leading off the second and took third on Jordan Pacheco's single to right. Bumgarner (13-13) then struck out the next three hitters, including Wilin Rosario and Field who were both caught looking at a third strike.Ramon Ramirez pitched the eighth and former starter Barry Zito worked the ninth to complete the shutout.White (2-4) got off to a rough start, walking leadoff batter Andres Torres on six pitches then uncorking back-to-back wild pitches to advance Torres to third. Mike Fontenot followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.San Francisco put two runners on in the second and had a runner at second in the third but couldn't add on until Gillaspie singled in the fourth and Belt homered.Crawford's RBI triple was the second of the rookie's career. He later scored on a wild pitch, the fourth of the night thrown by Colorado pitchers.Notes: Tracy will bring back his entire coaching staff next season, including hitting coach Carney Lansford and pitching coach Bob Apodaca, both of whom have come under fire this year. ... Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd and slugger Jason Giambi held a lengthy meeting in the dugout two hours before the game discussing the future of the club and some of the players. ... LHP Drew Pomeranz makes his fourth career start for Colorado. Pomeranz (1-1) allowed two runs over 5 2-3 innings but left with a no-decision against the Giants on Sept. 17. ... LHP Eric Surkamp (2-1) pitches for San Francisco. ... Bill Neukom, who will retire as the Giants' controlling owner at the end of the year and be replaced by Larry Baer as chief executive officer, was on the field during batting practice. ... Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell and winger Ryan Clowe of the San Jose Sharks were among those in attendance.

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

SAN FRANCISCO — This spring, Hunter Pence briefly tried to cut back on his coffee intake. The experiment did not last long for a player who is pure caffeine on and off the field, but even Pence is occasionally in need of more than a large cold brew. 

Pence tried to stay upbeat throughout a sluggish start to the season, but around him was a clubhouse in need of energy. Christian Arroyo walked through the door on Monday. Two days later, Michael Morse arrived.

“That’s quite an energy jolt,” Pence said of Arroyo. “Morse, it’s been an energy jolt as well.”

The two recent River Cats sent a pair of jolts through a stadium that was sold out for the 499th consecutive time. Arroyo hit a two-run homer in the seventh, his first in the big leagues. Morse went deep in the eighth for his first big league hit in two years and first homer as a Giant since the 2014 NLCS. 

Pence is close friends with Morse and and admirer of Arroyo, the 21-year-old who has taken a locker a few feet away. He made sure neither jolt went to waste, hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th to give the Giants a thrilling 4-3 win they hope they can build on.

“That was a shot in the arm,” Morse said.

The big slugger was just that earlier Wednesday. Morse agreed to terms on a minor league deal at Pence’s wedding last winter and he was on track for opening day before a hamstring injury. He was so excited by Wednesday’s call back to San Francisco that he beat Bruce Bochy to the park. The manager tried to lower expectations before the game, telling reporters that Morse would not be a regular starter, especially in left, where the Giants have watched a black hole open. 

Morse was here for the late innings, for the moment when Bochy looks at him and says simply, “Get ready, Mo.” For most of Wednesday’s game, it looked like that big moment wouldn’t come. Alex Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth but he was pulled in the seventh by a Dodgers staff trying to protect his arm. Sergio Romo entered and soon faced a kid who was 19 the first time he walked into Romo’s clubhouse. 

“He’s been doing the same thing in the big leagues with good results for a long time,” Arroyo said. 

Arroyo got the slider that’s always coming, low and away, and he drilled it deep to left-center. He hit only three homers last year but Giants management felt the 36 doubles at Richmond showed a developing power bat. The strength has come quickly, and the ball carried into the first row of seats. 

“I looked up and saw the ump waving and I was like, ‘I’ve got to slow down,’” Arroyo said, smiling. “I tried to slow down and take it all in.”

As Arroyo crossed the plate and looked to the sky, his family shared hugs — without spilling a nacho — in a section overlooking the home dugout. The ballpark roared. A 3-0 deficit had been nearly erased. 

“Now it’s a one-run game,” Bochy said. “Anything can happen.”

Even by that standard, Morse’s blast was improbable. This is a player who didn’t have a hit last season before being sent home by the Pittsburgh Pirates. A player who, at 35, was having a poor spring before he announced to a reporter one day that he was going to hit a homer -- and then promptly did. On a rehab assignment over the past week, Morse had a .250 average and no homers, but he insisted to general manager Bobby Evans that his swing was ready. 

Evans believed, and Morse rewarded him with a moment that had everyone in the park throwing it back to 2014. Just as in the deciding game of the NLCS against the Cardinals, Morse was sent up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Sidewinding Pat Neshek was replaced by fire-balling Pedro Baez, but the approach was the same. 

“Swing hard,” Morse said. “Just in case you hit it.”

Baez kept pumping fastballs and Morse turned on one at 97 mph. He raised his arm the same way he did three years ago, an inning before Travis Ishikawa’s heroics. 

“I’m not going to lie,” Bochy said. “I was thinking about that game against St. Louis.”

All the Giants were. 

“You kind of just sit there and shake your head a little bit because it was very similar to his last homer here,” Posey said. “Even his excitement out of the box was similar.”

Morse said he didn’t intend to strike the same pose. 

“I was like, ‘I hope I didn’t strike out and I’m just running around the bases,’” he said, laughing. “It was cool, man. Not only for me, but for the team.”

For four innings, the surging bullpen made sure the homers would not be a fun footnote to another loss. Gorkys Hernandez kicked off the winning rally in the 10th with a single. He was pushed along by a stolen base, walk and bunt. Pence stepped in with no outs and engaged in one of the strangest battles of a career full of them. 

Ross Stripling, a starter with a deep repertoire, kept pumping 94 mph fastballs up near Pence’s eyes. Pence swung through one, fouled off five, and took three more for balls. Only one of the pitches he saw was in the strike zone. In the dugout, Posey shook his head in amusement. 

“It was kind of hard not to laugh,” Posey said. “He’s probably the only guy who can do that.”

Some Giants couldn’t hold the laughter in, even in a tense spot.

“He had that ‘Thou shall not walk’ going in that at-bat,” Bochy said. “He probably expanded as much as I’ve ever seen. If he would have walked it would have gone down as one of the more amazing walks with all the balls he swung at.”

On a night full of so much energy, a walk would have been an anticlimactic ending. Pence, who had been expecting a curveball the whole at-bat, lofted a 10th fastball deep enough to left to score Arroyo and send the Giants streaming out of the dugout. 

Arroyo, the youngest of them all, went sprinting across the infield. Morse followed, and soon he had Pence wrapped in a hug. Hours earlier, he had promised that at the very least, he would bring energy to the clubhouse. He delivered more than anyone could have imagined.

“To do that is one of those special moments that can change a season,” Pence said. “It was electric ... Morsey being Morsey.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo, Morse go deep, Giants walk off on Dodgers

Instant Replay: Arroyo, Morse go deep, Giants walk off on Dodgers

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Michael Morse hoped to bring a little levity to a battered clubhouse Wednesday. On his first day as a Giant since the 2014 World Series, he ended up bringing the most thrilling win of the season. 

Morse’s pinch-hit homer in the eighth shook AT&T Park and tied the game. His good friend Hunter Pence won it with a sacrifice fly in the 10th, giving the Giants a 4-3 win over the Dodgers. 

The 10th-inning rally started with Gorkys Hernandez’s single off Ross Stripling. Hernandez stole second and Conor Gillaspie drew a walk, and both runners were safe when Adrian Gonzalez went to third on Nick Hundley’s bunt. Pence flied out to deep left on the 10th pitch of his at-bat. The Giants had been 0-13 when trailing after seven. Morse  helped change all that.

Morse’s homer came an inning after Christian Arroyo’s first career homer. The newcomers saved a night that started with nothing but failure. 

The Giants entered with four games this month where they failed to put a runner on the first time through the order. Lefty Alex Wood stayed with the theme. Brandon Belt finally touched first with a one-out walk in the fourth but it wasn’t until the sixth that a Giant — Drew Stubbs — picked up a hit.

By that time, the Dodgers led 3-0. Johnny Cueto worked around some early trouble but Corey Seager got to him in the sixth. The young shortstop led off with a mammoth blast on a 3-2 pitch that landed a couple dozen rows up in left-center. The homer was tracked at 462 feet per Statcast, tied for the longest in the Majors this season.

The Dodgers went up 2-0 when Chase Utley blooped a single to left with the bases loaded. Utley was 1-for-31 at the time. Andrew Toles beat out a grounder to bring home a third run. 

The Giants looked dead in the water, but Wood — the Dodgers’ swingman — was pulled after 77 pitches and old friend Sergio Romo immediately opened the door. Buster Posey hit a one-out single and Arroyo lined a slider just over the fence in left-center.

Morse’s first at-bat as a Giant in three years sent an even bigger charge through the park. He got a 97 mph fastball from Pedro Baez with two strikes and blasted it to left. Morse held his arm up right away and screamed as he rounded first.

Starting pitching report: Cueto was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks. He’ll finish April with a 5.10 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. After holding opposing hitters to a .238 average last year, he’s getting hit at a .271 clip this season. 

Bullpen report: Steven Okert did a great job of settling the place down, throwing a scoreless inning before Arroyo’s homer and retiring two more immediately after. 

At the plate: The 21-year-old Arroyo calmly clapped his hands once as he rounded first. He was pushed out of the dugout for a curtain call as the park roared. Most impressive of all, his mom, Kimberly, didn’t drop a single nacho as she celebrated in the stands.

In the field: Stubbs made a diving catch to open the seventh and Gorkys Hernandez followed with a nifty sliding catch at the wall.

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,572 human beings. Thursday will be the 500th consecutive (announced) sellout.

Up next: Matt Moore (1-3, 5.87 ERA) will try to turn his month around. The Dodgers will trot out young lefty Julio Urias, who spent three weeks in the minors to control his innings count.