June 28 vs. Reds (5-0 win)
Fresh off THREE consecutive shutouts of the rival Dodgers, San Francisco welcomed its former dugout general Dusty Baker and his NL Central-leading Reds into town for a four-game set last week.
Of course, the big question was, how long could the donuts be preserved?
Facing this Cincy lineup wouldn't be quite like facing a Dodger lineup minus its two biggest producers and carrying the momentum of a flu-ridden snail. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are man-children, Brandon Phillips is the best all-round second baseman in the NL, Scott Rolen is Scott Rolen (even with a sub-.200 average) and the younger, more anonymous Reds are a hungry, feisty bunch with a collective quit of zero.
Yet, Madison Bumgarner nearly no-hit them.
The donut streak was never in serious danger. He himself outscored the Reds. MadBum (this will be the final time I will use that portmanteau, as I've come to dislike it. From this point forward, he's either "The Eagle," which seems to fit, or MB or No. 40.) went the distance, walking two and whiffing eight. Only a ground-ball single under his glove off the bat of catcher Ryan Hanigan spoiled his bid for a no-hitter.
For good measure, MB even singled and scored from first base on a Gregor Blanco triple in the seventh! Did the baserunning tire him out, as it sadly does many other pitchers faced with the daunting task of...playing baseball?
Only if your definition of "tired out" means retiring the final six Reds on just 23 pitches.
Pablo Sandoval put together one of the best, if not the best, plate appearances of his career when he battled Reds ace Johnny Cueto through what ended up as a nine-pitch AB. The big fella fouled off numerous tough offerings, impressively resisted others before finally drilling one over buckled Reds LF Todd Frazier for an RBI double.
If ALL his at-bats were that disciplined, there'd be no debating his deservedness to start the All-Star Game—he'd be hitting about .375 with 13 jacks, right now.
June 29 vs. Reds (5-1 loss)
I am obviously not the baseball zealot I often masquerade as.
If I were, I would not be admitting that—if presented with this wager—I'd have bet everything I owned that Matthew Thomas Cain would fire consecutive shutout No. 5 over the scenario of Zachary Warren Cozart blasting Cain's very first pitch of game two for a home run.
The inspired Reds quickly upped that lead to 3-0 before an angry "Shotgun" Cain mowed down Phillips, Ryan Ludwick and Rolen on strikes.
Still, Baker's club would rough up the Giants horse (11 hits, five ER in 6.2 innings) as it walked away a 5-1 winner. Mike Leake, the opposing pitcher, even got in on the fun by taking Cain deep—the first opposing pitcher to ever do so (thanks, baseball-reference.com).
Batter's-box heroics aside, how dominant was Leake on the mound? The Giants' offensive highlight was Angel Pagan accidentally cracking himself in the head with a broken bat follow-through on one of his swings.
(Whenever you come to the ballpark, stay the whole nine; you may see something you've never seen before. At-bats like Pagan's keep that cliche alive—although I have seen it before; the newly retired Dontrelle Willis did it during his glory days in Florida, which sadly seem like a lifetime ago. But I'm not here to talk about the past.)
I will say I've never seen a sliding runner grab the second baseman's legs as "Pandoval" did, attempting to prevent Phillips from turning two. (That Phillips is a beast in the field. NFL—maybe even WWE tactics—are needed to stop him once he gets the ball.)
While this play was taking place, I'd stepped away from the tube briefly to refresh my drink. I returned to see Pablo receiving hi-fives in the dugout. No runs scored and Baker was arguing...an impromptu "Stump The Davis" challenge!
Why would Dusty be upset over an out? Why would the Panda be praised for not scoring? I'm almost embarrassed to say interference never crossed my mind (I'm really not a zealot).
And if you didn't see it, it was flagrant—and the umps soon agreed.
Keep reading! Here's Part 2.