PHOENIX – Giants manager Bruce Bochy hadn’t resorted to pulling a lineup out of his size 8 1/8 hat. But he’s done more shuffling in the middle of the order lately than a dealer at the Golden Nugget.
Call it coincidence, but the Giants sure visited the cash window in a 10-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday night.
A sluggish offense that had scored eight runs in six games broke out against Trevor Cahill, battering the right-hander for a six-run fourth inning at Chase Field
Brandon Crawford had a career-high four hits, Buster Posey hit a two-run home run, Gregor Blanco hit a pair of doubles and Hunter Pence ignited the offense with his frenetic legs as the Giants made Madison Bumgarner feel richer than Diamond Jim Brady.
The Giants sustained a possible casualty along the way, though, as third baseman Pablo Sandoval aggravated his strained left foot and left the game after his at-bat in the third inning. Sandoval singled and slid hard into second base while breaking up a double play in the first inning, then he grimaced while trying to beat out a double-play grounder in the third.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner (5-4) snapped a four-start winless streak and did exactly what he was supposed to do with a big lead. He pumped strikes while taking a shutout into the sixth inning.
He also helped himself with a squeeze bunt that scored Brandon Belt in the fourth. He walked and scored from second base on Posey’s single in the sixth, too.
Perhaps the sprint on the bases tuckered him out, because Bumgarner didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced in the bottom of the inning. Pinch hitter Josh Wilson singled, Willie Bloomquist drew Arizona’s first walk of the night and A.J. Pollock hit an RBI double that Andres Torres appeared to whiff in left field.
Bumgarner was only at 87 pitches, but Bochy went to right-hander Ramon Ramirez to face Paul Goldsschmidt and Cody Ross.
Perhaps Bochy recognized the value in giving Bumgarner a light workload when he had an opportunity to do so.
Another outing like this and Ramirez might just stamp Heath Hembree’s passport to the big leagues.
Ramirez was dreadful in relief of Bumgarner, issuing two walks, giving up a most fortunate 380-foot sacrifice fly to Miguel Montero and appearing to cross up Posey with his last pitch – a passed ball that scored a run.
The Diamondbacks batted around while Ramirez allowed both of Bumgarner’s runners to score. Javier Lopez struck out Didi Gregorius to escape the marathon half-inning, which almost lasted a half-hour.
If Gregorius had reached, Wilson would’ve batted for the second time in the inning. Does a pinch hitter get credited for two pinch at-bats in that instance? We’ll have to table that question for another time.
At the plate
Pence was a dynamo with his bat and legs. He dashed all over the field while hitting a home run, a ground-rule double and stealing two bases.
He ended the day on pace for 31 steals and 26 home runs this season. If that pace holds, he’d be just the fourth 20-30 man in club history, joining Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds.
The scouting report had to be that you could run on Cahill; baserunners had been 9 for 9 against him. Pence put him to the test after reaching on a fielder’s choice in the second inning, stealing second base and then stealing third a few pitches later. He raced home with the game’s first run when catcher Miguel Montero’s errant throw got past third baseman Martin Prado.
Andres Torres walked and scored a controversial run on Crawford’s two-out double to make it 2-0. The throw beat a swerving Torres to the plate and it appeared that Montero barely grazed him on the shoulder with his glove, but plate umpire Greg Gibson called the runner safe.
The Giants matched more speed with more two-out hitting to batter Cahill (4-6) in the fourth. Pence doubled, Belt singled and Torres did well to lift a sacrifice fly after falling behind 0-2. Right fielder Gerardo Parra made it a surprisingly close play at the plate, but Pence used a late slide while flashing across the dish.
Crawford singled to put runners at the corners, then Bumgarner executed the safety squeeze to perfection.
Three two-out hits knocked Cahill from the mound. Blanco doubled, Marco Scutaro hit an RBI single and Posey launched his eighth home run of the season to give the Giants an 8-0 lead.
It was the first time in 17 games that Posey knocked in multiple runs. And his home run helped them match a season-high scoring output in an inning.
Crawford singled in the ninth to set a career high with four hits. He boosted his average to .292 and is most certainly back on the radar for an All-Star selection.
Tony Abreu made his Giants debut, grounding out to first base as a pinch hitter in the seventh.
As for Goldschmidt … well, he matched Luis Gonzalez’s franchise record by driving in a run for an eighth consecutive game. You can’t stop him. You can just hope to get a 9-0 lead first.
It was a mixed night in the outfield.
Pollock’s hard-hit drive to left field wasn’t a simple play, but Torres appeared to sprint there in plenty of time before the ball glanced off his glove for a double that ended Bumgarner’s night.
Blanco had a terrific performance in center field, though. He came up throwing in the fourth when Cody Ross, for some reason, decided to gamble and go first to third on a single with his team trailing by eight runs. Blanco’s throw was strong and on target as he racked up his third outfield assist.
If it occurs to you that Giants outfielders haven’t thrown out many runners, you’re right. They have five assists as a club – the fewest in the majors. Aside from Blanco, Pence has one assist, Pagan has one and Torres has zero.
The Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez has seven assists by himself.
Oh, and Gregorius is something special. He ranged far to his right to glove Joaquin Arias’ ground ball, then made it look easy when he threw off balance for a forceout at second base to end the sixth.
The Diamondbacks announced 44,574 paid on Aaron Hill bobblehead night. No replacements will be given for any that came with a chipped hand.
The Giants and Diamondbacks finish their three-game series Sunday afternoon. Chad Gaudin (1-1, 2.21) makes his second start of the season for the Giants. He’ll oppose left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-0, 3.86). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PDT.