A dominating pitching performance by ace Madison Bumgarner and some flashy defense helped the San Francisco Giants seal a series win Sunday evening with a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (L 2-4, 3.30 ERA) allowed just one run on a double — off the bat of Bumgarner. That proved to be all the Giants pitcher needed as he kept the usually noisy Chicago Cubs bats quiet, allowing just three hits and two walks over 7-2/3 innings pitched.
Though mostly unhittable, Bumgarner (W, 6-2, 2.17 ERA) got himself into trouble early on. After getting two quick ground outs in the first, Bumgarner gave up a single to Kris Bryant, hit Ben Zobrist with a 76 mile per hour curve ball, then walked Jorge Soler.
The bases loaded, Bumgarner caught Cubs shortstop Addison Russell looking after pushing the count full, capping the inning without any real damage.
That was about as much trouble as Bumgarner would find on the evening, with the defense behind him keeping Cubs hitters off the basepaths. He noted after the game just how much Giants gloves have helped him out already this year:
“They’ve been really good. They work at it every day. [Matt] Duffy’s really coming into his own now at third. Everybody’s been really good [defensively]. Usually good teams have that. We’ve had that in the past and we’ve got it right now.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy praised his ace’s ability to evade danger against a lineup that really doesn’t have many holes:
“He’s special and we’ve seen it over the years. He had a long first inning. It’s pretty amazing—here he is in the eighth inning still pitching. I don’t know if you could make a bigger pitch than what he did with the bases loaded on a 3-2 count.”
The game remained scoreless, with both pitchers moving through the opposition’s lineup with relative ease, before the Giants (27-19) broke the deadlock in the bottom of the fifth.
After fouling off a sacrifice bunt attempt, Bumgarner stroked a double to deep left field. Gregor Blanco, who was running on the pitch, scored from first to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. Blanco represented the only run scored by either team on the evening.
Bumgarner said he doesn’t take batting practice on days he’s pegged to start. He was visibly upset when he failed to get the bunt down but even more visibly relieved as he eased into second base:
“I was really disappointed with myself not getting that bunt down because that’s our job and that’s what we’re supposed to do. But I’m glad it worked out the other way. I’ll be working on some bunting tomorrow.”
There wasn’t much other noteworthy offense from either club on Sunday, but the Giants’ defense again took center stage.
Brandon Crawford ranged far to his right and threw across his body to first baseman Brandon Belt to rob Cubs second baseman Zobrist of a single for the third out of the third inning. Then third baseman Matt Duffy, 1-for-3 at the plate Sunday, dove to his left to steal a sure single from Hendricks.
Giants catcher Buster Posey leaned into the Cubs’ dugout to bring back a foul ball off the bat of Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler in the seventh, drawing cheers from the sold-out crowd.
Then in the ninth, a leaping catch at the center field warning track from Denard Span for the inning’s first out topped the Giants’ stellar defensive exploits on the evening. Span robbed Zobrist of a double on the play and helped preserve Giants’ closer Santiago Casillas save opportunity, which he converted for his 12th of the year.
Bochy lauded his team’s defense after the game, saying his players “elevated their game” to match an intense Chicago club:
“Span on that ninth inning catch — ball was moving quite a bit on him. It created quite a bit of drama there but he made the play. We had to play our best ball because we’re having a tough time offensively. Their kid was throwing the ball very well and it’s not a bad day for Bum.”
The Giants’ .989 fielding percentage is currently tied for second best in the National League.
The Giants will be back at AT&T Park Monday night to open a three-game set with the division rival San Diego Padres. Johnny Cueto (6-1, 2.70 ERA) will again face San Diego after pitching a complete-game, one-run affair in a Giants win at Petco Park Wednesday.Sunday’s win was the Giants’ 10th one-run victory of the season. They’re 10-5 in one-run games in 2016.
San Diego sends lefty Drew Pomeranz (4-4, 1.96 ERA) to the mound for the opener. Pomeranz has a 4.35 ERA over two starts against the Giants in 2016.