By: Malaika Bobino
San Francisco, CA – The key to the success of October baseball is good pitching. The Giants have proved in the past that their starting pitchers and bullpen have what it takes by winning two Word Series in three years.
After a horrible start to the season, San Francisco just got two of their best starts from Matt Cain (last night) and Madison Bumgarner tonight. The Giants took a 2-1 lead in the series when they beat the Atlanta Braves 10-1.
“I think everybody is going to work out their problems (referring to the starters),” Bumgarner said. “For the most part we still have been throwing good all year but not as good as we’re used too. It feels good to get a couple of back to back wins. Good pitching is contagious, good hitting is contagious, so we hope we keep all that going.”
San Francisco took a 2-0 lead behind Pablo Sandoval’s solo home run in the first frame and Brandon Crawford’s RBI double in the fourth. Atlanta cut the lead in half in the fifth off pitcher Paul Maholm’s RBI single.
“From the jump, I should have played that ball to keep the double play intact,” said Justin Upton. “That was an error on my behalf. I was too aggressive with that ball. I still thought I had a chance to catch it. It just got under my glove when I reached for it.”
Marco Scutaro’s hitting streak continued to 11 games after he tripled and opened up the offense bottom of the fifth. Scutaro hit a single to right field to Upton who had an error on the ball. Buster Posey knocked in another run with a RBI double and that was the end for Maholm on the mound.
After his exit Cory Gearrin watched the bases clear after pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco hit a double scoring Sandoval, Posey and Hunter Pence for a 6-1 lead. He went 2-for-2 with a double, triple and a career-high four RBI’s. His double in the fifth marked his first pinch-hit of the season.
“I said there’s no way I’m going to play today, the way he’s pitching,” Blanco said. “No swing, no stretch, nothing. It was pretty much from the bench to that swing.”
Madison also recorded a new career-high with 11 strikeouts tonight and the outing marked his 10th career double-digit strikeout game. The last time he had 10 strikeouts was this season on April 10th in San Diego against the Padres. He threw 7.0 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits and two walks.
“They have as good a shot as anybody of playing October baseball,” said Bumgarner. “When you play a team like that, you want to play your best baseball too.”
This was the first time the Giants beat the Braves. Two of their best starters were humbled and their offense shut down. Paul lasted 4.2 innings, allowing six earned runs on eight hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Atlanta’s bullpen also collapsed allowing four earned runs in the eighth.
“I didn’t make a few pitches and we didn’t make a few plays,” said Maholm. “We weren’t able to get anything on the board. They played better today.”
The Braves have seen their starting pitchers exit before the end of the fifth inning in the past two games. A similar situation with San Francisco, they have also struggled with their starters this season. But for the Giants they seem to be breaking out of their slump while getting help from their offense.