sports 3 days ago

Madison Bumgarner dominates again, Giants take down A's in Bay Bridge Series opener

The Mercury News — By Kerry Crowley The Mercury News

Aug. 13-- SAN FRANCISCO-In the challenging months of April and May, Madison Bumgarner asked for patience.

Despite an ERA that frequently hovered above 4.00 and peripheral statistics that suggested a regression, Bumgarner believed his numbers would eventually look like they did during the best years of his career.

With fewer than seven weeks left in the regular season, who's still doubting him?

In a second consecutive brilliant start, Bumgarner allowed just two hits and one run over seven dominant innings to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 3-2 victory over the Oakland A's.

Giants closer Will Smith loaded the bases and walked in a run during a pressure-packed ninth inning, but Smith got second baseman Chad Pinder to swing through a fastball to end the game on his 37th pitch of the inning.

After Bumgarner's ERA ballooned to 4.21 following one of the worst outings of his career on June 20 at Dodger Stadium, he has posted a 2.61 ERA in his last 10 starts, nine of which have ended with Giants wins.

Against an A's lineup that's contending for an American League Wild Card berth, Bumgarner gave up a solo home run and a weak single while striking out nine hitters. In the midst of a rally in the bottom of the seventh, manager Bruce Bochy allowed the pitcher to hit for himself and he laid down a perfect bunt that ultimately led to Scooter Gennett's pinch-hit sacrifice fly.

A year after Bumgarner helped the Giants improve to 60-60 with six innings of two-run ball against the Dodgers, the left-hander willed his club to victory over another rival as the Giants again climbed to 60-60 through their first 120 games.

If the Giants' front office went in a different direction at the trade deadline, Bumgarner may find himself pitching his best ball of the year for a contending club with visions of hoisting a World Series trophy. Instead, he remained with the only franchise he's ever known and is devoting the months of August and September to keeping San Francisco in the National League Wild Card race.

After a dismal performance in the game's first five innings, the Giants' offense pumped life back into the crowd at Oracle Park with three consecutive sixth-inning doubles against A's starter Brett Anderson.

Catcher Buster Posey ignited the rally with a double that rolled up against the right center field wall and third baseman Evan Longoria followed with a line drive into the left field corner that barely snuck over the head of 2018 Platinum Glove Award winner Matt Chapman at third base.

The Giants' team leader in runs batted in, center fielder Kevin Pillar, added onto his career-high for a single season as his 107.8 mile per hour line drive barely escaped the glove of left fielder Robbie Grossman. Pillar's 30th double and 63rd RBI of the season allowed Bumgarner to pitch with a lead for the first time in the top of the seventh.

Bumgarner had retired 13 consecutive hitters before A's right fielder Stephen Piscotty crushed a 1-2 fastball halfway up the left field bleachers to give Oakland a 1-0 lead. The Giants starter had induced a pair of whiffs earlier in the at-bat with devastating curveballs, but he left a fastball ticketed for the inside corner too close to the heart of the plate and Piscotty seized his opportunity in what would go down as the only blemish for Bumgarner.

In between a popup to lead off the game that new first baseman Aramis Garcia should have handled and the Piscotty solo home run, Bumgarner generated a 6-4-3 double play and struck out eight A's hitters in his most dominant stretch of the season.

The Giants could have been in complete command of Tuesday's game with an average offensive showing in the early innings, but they did little to trouble the left-handed Anderson. A lineup stacked with right-handed bats recorded just three singles in the first five innings and only advanced one runner into scoring position before Posey doubled with two outs in the sixth.

Once Longoria and Pillar followed with big hits of their own, it was up to Bumgarner, set-up man Reyes Moronta and the closer, Smith, to stare down the A's.

The Giants pitching staff didn't blink. Even if Smith came close.

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