Madison Bumgarner (11-5) opened up the second half of the season for the San Francisco Giants on Friday night with a solid performance, holding the Houston Astros to just one run over seven innings while striking out five in the Giants' 5-1 win.
In command from the beginning, Bumgarner had a one-hit shutout through six. With Chris Snyder up and two out in the seventh, Bumgarner made his only mistake of the night.
On a 3-1 count, Bumgarner threw a fastball that caught too much of the plate. The Astros catcher turned on it and drove a towering home run over the left field wall.
That was one of two hits Bumgarner would surrender and the only run as he lowered his ERA to 3.15. The 22-year-old earned his 11th win of the year and has now won 15 of his last 18 starts at AT&T Park with a stellar 1.81 ERA.
Bumgarner wasn’t the only Giant who was in command early on in the game. Fresh off his start in the All-Star game on Tuesday, Buster Posey slammed a two-run home run in the bottom of the first.
On a 2-0 count, Posey slammed an 89 mph fastball from Wandy Rodriguez (7-7) over the center field wall, a majestic shot that was measured at 448 feet.
The Giants would add two more in the second inning on three straight singles by Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt and Joaquin Arias, giving Bumgarner the early four-run cushion which helped him settle in.
After the game Bumgarner talked about pitching the first game after the break and how he would react after the layoff and change in routine.
“I felt pretty good, I was kind of nervous I didn’t know how I was going to feel after three days off…but it didn’t really feel like I missed anything.”
Bruce Bochy had nothing but praise for Bumgarner after the game, commenting on his performance and his dominance at home.
“He’s thrown so well here, it’s a case where he’s feeding off the fans…that gets him going and keeps him pumped up.” Bochy continued, “This kid for 22 years old, it’s pretty incredible what he does, and the poise he has out there.”
The Giants added their fifth and final run in the eighth inning when Pablo Sandoval turned into a one-man highlight show. After legging out a one-out triple with a dramatic headfirst slide into third base, Sandoval tagged up on Pagan’s shallow line drive to left field.
With Sandoval coming in like a freight train, Snyder never could get a handle on the ball as “the Panda” bowled over the Astros catcher, jarring the ball loose.
Sandoval, a former catcher, downplayed his decision to run into Snyder after the game, saying “It was the only opportunity to be safe, I saw the throw coming and he didn’t handle the ball, so I just pushed him a little bit.”
Bochy, who’s also a former catcher, made light of Sandoval’s collision at the plate.
“That’s a lot of mass coming into home plate, but he scored and that’s a big run. As you saw they were coming back…it’s always good to get that fourth run and give you a cushion and some margin of error.”
When asked about Sandoval legging out the triple, Bochy joked, “Yeah, I was getting on him, he hit a triple in the All-Star game and we hadn’t seen one.”
Another bright spot in the win was Santiago Casilla’s outing in the ninth. After a shaky two weeks leading up to the break, Casilla came in, located his pitches and looked in control.
The Giants continue their three-game series with the Astros tomorrow night as they send Tim Lincecum (3-10) to the hill to face Houston’s Lucas Harrell (7-6); game time is 6:05 p.m. PT, 9:05 p.m. ET.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.