What a day for baseball at AT&T Park. Temperatures crossed 80 degrees and the bats responded as they have in the past. The two ace starters, Julio Teheran for the Braves and Madison Bumgarner for the Giants, were forced into a combined 61 pitches in a first inning that ended 2-2. Teheran threw 41 pitches … in the first inning!
The continuing shifting of position players in response to the absence of 1B Brandon Belt (out with a broken thumb for anywhere from 6-8 weeks) had Gregor Blanco playing center field and Michael Morse at 1st. Blanco had a problem with a fly ball in the first that found the wall and gave the Braves an early 2-run lead, but “the white shark,” el Tiburon Blanco more than made up for it the rest of the game with patient at-bats and inspired base running.
Starting as the lead off hitter for the first time this season in order to spell Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco did something yesterday that Willie Mays never did: he stole three bases in a game and scored three runs. It was a display of speed not seen around here since The Bullet, Darren Ford. It helped the struggling Blanco to perform at the plate as well, as he showed more patience, drew a walk and even drove in an RBI with a single.
Blanco responding to the absence of Pagan was just what the Giants needed. I refused to see resting Pagan as a problem or an issue yesterday, but rather as an early-season opportunity to develop alternatives to Pagan in the lead off position. Blanco performed exceptionally well. Tyler Colvin looks like an option, too. If we want Angel Pagan to last the entire season without injury, spelling him for games is the way – another great decision by skipper Bruce Bochy.
Blanco’s speed was accompanied by an awesome display of power on a hot, hot day at the yard – Hunter Pence, Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford all went yard. Brandon Crawford’s homer found the water of McCovey Cove , his second splash hit of this season and his career, to bring the total hit by Giants to 67. Pablo Sandoval extended his slump-breaking hitting streak to six games but had to leave the game after five innings with an injury to his big toe.
Pablo is listed day-to-day, but it adds to the shifting and substituting in the infield and means we’ll be seeing Arias throwing to Morse or Posey or Sanchez on different days. The shifting of players in reaction to injury is an example of the team philosophy from top to bottom in this organization. It seems to be a shared effort every game. Truly 25 Guys with One Common Goal … to win today!
Madison Bumgarner had a frustrating, hot afternoon, allowing four runs and five hits in five, striking out five and giving up a walk. But MadBum still managed to get the win, secured by a bullpen that, increasingly, must be considered one of the best in baseball – both at the skill level and with regard to managerial decision making about their use. Bochy has become masterful at bullpen management.
The Giants had 15 hits and six walks and chased Teheran from the game in the 4th. Teheran is 3-2 on the young season, but both those losses have come at the hands of the Giants, once at home and once on the road.
The Giants have the best record in all of baseball again and among the leaders in home runs, having tacked on three more yesterday. They also lead the league in series victories, with nine.
The surprising Miami Marlins are in town today and through the weekend. They arrive having destroyed Los Angeles yesterday. The Dodgers wholly imploded and failed at every aspect of the game, losing 13-3. Brian Wilson got crushed and the lowly nemesis had to turn to position players to pitch – ridiculous.