In several instances this year, Buster Posey demonstrated rare signs of emotion.
That emotion is usually anger, a displeased look, a cuss word, a shout — at himself, at Brandon Belt, at the home plate umpire. Even amid a full-out brawl with the Washington Nationals, though, Posey made sure to keep himself neutral. He doesn’t typically spar with the opposition.
It took a fastball way inside, plopped on Posey’s back, from Phillies reliever Hector Neris to prompt some intense jawing. Posey reiterated his thoughts after the game:
“I’m pretty sure they hit me on purpose, just a shame because I wanted to compete that at-bat. He’s got good stuff, but I guess he didn’t feel like he could get me out.”
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.
Posey had every right to be angry. Not only was the hit-by-pitch a final push in what was otherwise a pretty rough day for the catcher — he hurt his thumb making a successful tag out at home — the act essentially put the game and, officially, the season away for the Giants.
It came with the Giants down two runs in the eighth, Posey representing the go-ahead run with Kelby Tomlinson and Jarrett Parker on base. After the peg, Pablo Sandoval struck out swinging to end the threat and, in essence, seal Philadelphia’s 5-2 win Sunday afternoon. Posey said he was fine, physically, but he wanted to articulate that the incident didn’t sit well and was all to transparent:
“It was a big spot. Would have been nice to hit.”
The Posey incident resulted from a strong start that spun south for the Giants in an instant. Madison Bumgarner drudged through 6 innings, dealing 111 pitches — the most he’s thrown in a start since his return — with seven strikeouts and one run earned on four hits.
He also gave himself a lead, answering his third inning pop-out with an RBI single on a 3-2 pitch. Manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner called his shot, Bumgarner is always messing around:
“Oh, I just say stuff like that sometimes.”
Four of those strikeouts came in the first and second innings before Jorge Alfaro knocked a single that Bumgarner tried to kick off his leg, without even a flinch. The training staff knew better than to check on him, said Bochy:
“Last time that happened the trainer got barked at.”
It’d come back to bite him in other ways, anyway. Pedro Florimon golfed a pitch into the left field wall for the game’s first run.
That was all they’d get against Bumgarner, so the Phillies would try to crack the trio of Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland and Sam Dyson.
Jarrett Parker snagged Cameron Perkins at home in the Phillies aggressive attempt to tie the game against Melancon on Hyun Soo Kim‘s seventh-inning single, said Bochy:
“Looked like it was going to win a ballgame for us, that first one.”
But Strickland wasn’t himself; his fastball command was off, resulting in a flurry of two-strike hits.
The Phillies teed off on Strickland for six hits, three runs and the lead, only stopped by another outfield assist, again at the plate, from Gorkys Hernandez in right.
If you ask Posey, a comeback was well within his grasp. Perhaps Neris knew it, too, though he denied wanting to put the tying run in scoring position.
Mark it: August 20th, 2017, the San Francisco Giants were officially eliminated from National League West contention. Unofficially, this was the case months ago.
The Giants will play the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series to round out the home stand. Chris Stratton will get the nod after a strong road start in Washington.
Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.