Bumgarner keeps road momentum; Posey to remain in No. 3 spot

Bumgarner 'felt good' after going 'Big Country' on the Braves

Bumgarner keeps road momentum; Posey to remain in No. 3 spot
June 14, 2013, 8:30 pm
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Buster Posey had a career first three double game and Madison Bumgarner struck out 10 on Friday. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

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ATLANTA – Madison Bumgarner isn’t unlike Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Some might equate their slow talking drawl for a lack of wit, but they’d be mistaken. Bumgarner’s tongue is often as sharp as his slider. And Bochy is the master of the deadpan one-liner.

So when Bumgarner was asked when a no-hitter entered his mind Friday night, he answered immediately: “After the first out.”

Was he kidding? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

This much is sure: The Atlanta Braves are not in a laughing mood after Bumgarner has undressed them twice this season. The first time, he struck out 11. This time, he struck out 10 while taking a perfect game into the fifth inning and a no-hit bid into the sixth in the Giants’ 6-0 victory at Turner Field.

[RELATED: Instant Replay: Bumgarner baffles Braves]

This should have been simple: The Braves had the best home record in the major leagues, at 21-7. The Giants have been perfectly awful away from AT&T Park, entering with a 13-20 road record and the highest road ERA in the NL.

This was supposed to be the nine-game trip against three winning clubs – Diamondbacks, Pirates and Braves – that threatened to mire them in the standings.

But it’s no June Swoon when you outscore your opponent 16-0, as the Giants have done the past two nights in Pittsburgh and Atlanta. They’ve outhit the Pirates and Braves 28-6 over those two games, too. It’s the first time they’ve recorded consecutive road shutouts since Sept. 5-6, 2010.

One more victory here and they’ll clinch their first winning road trip since … Well, do you consider that three-game season-opening series at Dodger Stadium a trip?

Matt Cain and Bumgarner are the undisputed 1-2 punch atop the Giants rotation, and they’ll have to be better than ever with the rest of the starting five so uncertain – especially Lincecum and Zito away from AT&T Park.

You get the sense that there was a meeting of hearts and minds among the starters recently.

Here’s Cain after shutting down the Pirates: “We haven’t thrown the ball the way we’d like and we have to take pride as starters to turn it around. We’ve had little blips of it and then we get out of it … I think we feed off each other. But we all have to do that. It can’t be one guy or one start. It’s got to be all of us together and we’ve got to start doing it together.”

And here’s Bumgarner after blanking the Braves: “We’ve all got to start locking it in with the second half coming up here if we want to make a playoff push. Everybody knows that. It’s time to turn it around.”

It’s one thing to hear your top two pitchers say, “enough’s enough” after a run of bad starts. But when they’re saying it after two of their best outings of the season, that’s when you know it’s more than lip service.

Bumgarner, who sat in traffic on the second bus for more than an hour and arrived late at the ballpark as a result, said he "wasn't terrible, but wasn't very good" in the bullpen.

"I had to get it together," he said.

Did he ever. Cain and Bumgarner getting it together? That's been exactly what Bochy wanted to see.

“It’s been important to the club, for their confidence,” Bochy said. “Especially with the clubs we’re playing.”

It inspires confidence to see Buster Posey ratcheting up his average, too. Moved up to the No.3 spot to start this road trip, Posey is 12 for 32 in these seven games after hitting three doubles Friday – the first time in his career he’s collected three extra-base hits in a game.

Bochy reiterated that Posey is in the No.3 spot to stay.

“I like where he’s at right now,” Bochy said. “I don’t plan on making any changes. Good hitters, they have a way of figuring it out and making adjustments. He was coming off the ball a little bit. He’s shown he knows how to fix things.

“He just fixed it.”

A year and a day after Cain threw his perfect game, Bumgarner did more than bat eyelashes at a no-hitter. It got broken up when No.8 hitter Chris Johnson led off the sixth with a blooper that fell in between Gregor Blanco and Hunter Pence in shallow right-center.

In that moment, neither player heard the other call for the ball. If they had both decided to dive, it could’ve been ugly. In retrospect, though, Blanco said he wished he had laid out for it.

“I think we should’ve dived for it, to tell the truth,” he said. “It was really tough. We were both going full speed.”

For the last two nights, so has the Giants rotation. It’ll be up to Chad Gaudin, who’s been very good in three starts thus far, to pick up the baton next.

“We’ve been spoiled – all of us – to see them work like that,” Posey said. “So this is something they can build on.”

 

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