By Sam Bush
The Phillies got a taste of the real thing yesterday:
The San Francisco Giants are a first-rate team — 32-25 record in NL West, a half-game behind the Dodgers — and Madison Bumgarner, the then-rookie who mowed them down in the 2010 NLCS, is one of the best hurlers in the NL.
And despite giving up a grand slam to the Phillies’ Jeff Francoeur in the fourth inning at Citizens Bank Park, the Giants saw their way to a 7-5 victory in South Philly — and set up a chance to sweep the three-game series.
Bumgarner had overwhelming stuff while facing the minimum in six of his first seven innings. A Phillies batter didn’t step on second base again until Andres Blanco hit a pinch homer in the eighth. Bumgarner finished with 11 strikeouts in his eight innings — the 21st time in his career he nailed double digits to the barn door.
“I mean, it’d be tough to throw much better,” Bumgarner said. “To find yourself giving up five runs, it just shows how crazy this game is. I’d take my chances throwing like that any day.”
The Giants supported him against a shaky 22-year-old rookie pitcher, Severino Gonzalez, who didn’t look ready for prime time. They raced to a sizable early lead after a series of singles, walks, hit batters, a balk and a throw from Francoeur in right field that nearly sailed over the Delaware state line.
Nori Aoki had three hits, including a two-run single, while reaching base five times. Bumgarner chipped in two hits, including an RBI single.
Bumgarner (7-2) operated with a 6-0 lead in the third inning and faced the minimum the first time through the order while throwing an astounding 22 of 24 pitches for strikes. Darin Ruf was the only batter to reach, and he was thrown out trying to stretch a singl
But the Phillies loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth. Ben Revere singled, Cesar Hernandez was hit by a pitch and Franco blooped a single. Ruf proved to be a tough out, fouling off a two-strike fastball and curve and working the count full before trying to check his swing on a curveball in the dirt. It wasn’t obvious that Ruf went around, but it was close enough for first base umpire Mark Wegner when the Giants appealed.
Ruf might have worked Bumgarner hard enough to elicit the slightest bit of letup. Francoeur took a slider away and then barreled up a 94 mph fastball for the second grand slam of his career.
Francoeur joined Jordan Pacheco as the only players to hit grand slams off Bumgarner. Coincidentally, the Arizona Diamondbacks designated Pacheco for assignment later in the day.
“It’s hard to believe he gave up five runs with the stuff he had,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “But a hit batter, a bloop and a blast and they’re right back in that game. He didn’t let it affect him.
“It kind of ticked him off, I know. He’s throwing so well. It seemed like it spurred him a little bit.”
Bumgarner said he didn’t put his fist through anything after the fourth inning.
“It might be tougher if I give up the lead there,” he said. “If I’m able to win 7-5, I’ll take it. The numbers might not be too sexy looking, but it’s about winning games, not putting up numbers.”
Bumgarner recorded seven strikeouts over his final four innings and kept contributing with the bat, too. The Giants added a run in the seventh when Duffy reached on an error and scored on Bumgarner’s two-out single.
“It’s one of those games you stay with your starter,” Bochy said. “Normally you look at a box score like that and your starter won’t be in there. Not with Madison.”
Santiago Casilla allowed the tying run to the plate after issuing a pinch walk to Chase Utley. But Casilla struck out Francoeur on three pitches, freezing him with a 93 mph, snapback two-seam fastball. Then Cody Asche struck out looking on a simple fastball to end it.