Kruk & Kuip: The Giants needed to have this win
Hunter Pence's home run snapped a streak of three-straight RBI-less games from Giants not named Buster Posey. (AP)
DENVER – The Giants had an ugly month. They swooned in June to the tune of a 10-17 record – their lowest monthly winning percentage since July, 2008.
They lost six in a row. They played 31 innings without an RBI from anyone other than Buster Posey. They hit one home run on a seven-game homestand. They had meetings, followed by more meetings, and uttered more than a few expletives.
Know what? As bad as June was, the Giants are three games out in the NL West – just two more than they were when the month began.
They snapped their losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, and even though they’re 1-6 over their last seven games, they haven’t lost any ground in the standings over that span. Amazing.
That’s not to suggest that the Giants can keep on blundering their way to a division title. Their play over the next 81 games has to pick up in all areas from the first 81, and they know it in all corners of the clubhouse.
But even a blind squirrel is right twice a day, or however that saying goes. And as it happened Sunday, the Giants’ own baserunning gaffe helped to spark their biggest inning of the trip.
Tony Abreu took off for third base on Buster Posey’s ground ball. Andres Torres, standing on third, stayed put. But the Rockies trumped one mistake with a bigger one, as first baseman Jordan Pacheco threw the ball away to allow Torres to score.
Hunter Pence followed with a two-run home run – the first RBI by a Giant not named Posey since the ninth inning Wednesday at Dodger Stadium – and Madison Bumgarner held firm to help the Giants avoid getting swept on the high plains.
The Giants were glad to leave behind their first losing month since that miserable August of 2011. It’s the lowest winning percentage the Giants have had in a month since they went 8-16 in July, 2008.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner (8-5) followed Matt Cain’s gem with his own.
He allowed just a solo home run to Carlos Gonzalez while holding the Rockies to four hits in seven innings to post his fourth consecutive quality start. He had his cutter and slider working, and even used his curveball to escape a tough spot in the first inning.
The Rockies had runners at the corners with no outs after a walk, a stolen base and a single. But Bumgarner got ahead of Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer with fastballs and sliders, then broke off nasty curveballs to strike out both hot hitters.
It was the kind of escape that Bumgarner couldn’t manage in his previous start here, when the Rockies bludgeoned him for nine runs on May 17.
A double is probably the natural result of a Rosario-Rosario matchup. Wilin Rosario powered his drive over Pence’s head to drive in a run off Sandy Rosario in the eighth inning.
Sergio Romo pitched around Todd Helton’s pinch double to record his first save in 11 days. He’s converted 19 of 22 save opportunities this season.
At the plate
So much Posey. So, so much Posey.
The reigning NL MVP gave the Giants just their second lead of the road trip when he hit a solo home run in the third inning. He momentarily tied Pence for the team lead with 12 before the right fielder nudged back in front with his shot in the fifth.
Before Pence’s shot, Posey had driven in all of the Giants’ five runs over the previous three-plus games.
Posey is 11 for 22 with four home runs through six games on this trip. That’s one way to boost your All-Star vote totals.
The Giants set up their three-run fifth inning when Torres singled and Abreu hit a double that the wind took away from center fielder Tyler Colvin. Then came the grounder from Posey that turned into a yard sale, and Pence’s shot.
The Giants added a run in the seventh when Juan Perez drew a two-out walk and scored all the way from first base on Guillermo Quiroz’s blooper. The wind helped again as the ball carried away from second baseman D.J. LeMahieu.
The Giants are having enough trouble throwing out base stealers without their middle infielders forgetting to cover the bag.
Abreu, the second baseman, didn’t move on LeMahieu’s steal attempt in the first inning and shortstop Brandon Crawford made a late break and barely stopped Guillermo Quiroz’s throw from going into center field. It was a perfect throw and probably would’ve nailed LeMahieu – if anyone had been there to receive it.
Crawford and Abreu made up for it in the third, when the shortstop went behind the bag and flipped to start a double play. Abreu made an impressively strong throw with the runner sliding into him.
The Rockies announced 41,845 paid, and the fans are no dummies here. They gave a loud cheer in the eighth to implore Michael Cuddyer, who likely had one last shot to extend his franchise-record 26-game hitting streak. He did, hitting a single up the middle off Sandy Rosario’s hand. The fans responded with a standing ovation.
The Giants begin a four-game series at Cincinnati on Monday. They’ve got a four-game winning streak at Great American Ball Park, when you count the three elimination games they won there to clinch the NLDS over the Reds. Mike Kickham (0-2, 10.57 ERA) starts on Monday against right-hander Bronson Arroyo (6-6, 3.61) in the series opener. It’ll be Tim Lincecum (4-8, 4.64) against right-hander Homer Bailey (4-6, 3.88) on Tuesday, Barry Zito (4-6, 4.53) against left-hander Tony Cingrani (3-0, 3.42) on Wednesday and Matt Cain (5-4, 4.29) against right-hander Mike Leake (7-3, 2.52) on Thursday.