Rewind: Long ball, sound defense, Bumgarner propel Giants

Rewind: Long ball, sound defense, Bumgarner propel Giants
June 5, 2014, 4:45 pm
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It was pretty obvious they came out swinging. Me and Buster (Posey) made some adjustments. Defense was phenomenal.
Madison Bumgarner

If Madison Bumgarner keeps saying it, maybe we'll finally start to believe him.

"I'm not trying to strike guys out," he told reporters after fanning five Reds in the Giants' 6-1 getaway day victory.

Even though his strikeout total was half what it was in each of his previous two starts, he seemed as pleased with Thursday's performance as any this season because he lasted eight innings.

"They were just so aggressive. They were putting the ball in play early. When they're doing that and it's working out where you're getting outs, usually you're able to go pretty deep in the game," said Bumgarner.

Pitching and defense are often intertwined. Sometimes the two can form a vicious circle, like we saw on Tuesday when Tim Lincecum neither pitched nor fielded his position well and the team followed suit.

But as we saw on Sunday during Tim Hudson's start or today in Bumgarner's outing, quality on one side can enhance the other.

"There's something about when you're pounding the strike zone and pitching to contact that keeps the infielders on their toes," Bruce Bochy told reporters.

"They play crisper, which we did. We made some nice plays to save his pitch count. Great job by everybody. It turned out to be a nice series, a great road trip. The boys did well this trip."

A glorious stretch away from home threatened to unravel with Tuesday's debacle, but Ryan Vogelsong and Juan Perez helped San Francisco weather another day full of defensive miscues in Wednesday's 3-2 win. Then the Giants looked like an entirely different team less than 24 hours later.

"It's one of our better games defensively. We made some really great plays in the infield. Pablo (Sandoval), (Brandon) Crawford, (Michael) Morse did a good job at first. We really played good ball today," Bochy said.

It helped that an outfielder started the game with a solid play of his own. Hunter Pence caught a sharp liner off the bat of Billy Hamilton, a play Bochy said may have saved an inside-the-park home run for the Reds' resident sprinter/centerfielder.

"A couple of the errors this series were tough," Crawford told Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow. "Hamilton puts a lot of pressure on us as a defense. They say speed kills. It hurt us a little bit, but it didn't kill us this time."

Nothing can terminate the Giants these days. Injuries to key players, a road series in their least favorite venue, embarrassingly bad defensive execution – they always seem to bounce back in 2014.

"We had one of our ugliest games, the first game here. They washed that one off," Bochy said.

"I know we've had some of our worst baseball here. So it was good, particularly after losing the first game the way we did, to play the type of ball we did the last two days."

The Reds also know how much (regular season) success they've enjoyed against San Francisco in recent years, especially at Great American Ball Park. After barely losing the night before, Cincinnati probably figured they could Bum-rush a tired Giants squad in the first inning.

"They've got a lot of good hitters on this team. Offensive ballpark, I guess you'd say," said Bumgarner.

"It was pretty obvious they came out swinging. Me and Buster (Posey) made some adjustments. Defense was phenomenal."

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