The complete and utter domination by opposing pitchers against the Cincinnati Reds continued on Thursday afternoon, as the San Francisco Giants won the game 6-1, and the series, on the back of their ace Madison Bumgarner.
In a matchup destined for a pitcher’s duel, Bumgarner showed why he is the best pitcher in baseball that not many on the east coast talk about. Over his eight innings of work, Bumgarner allowed only three hits while not walking a batter and striking out five. Had the game been a bit more competitive, there is no question that he could have gone the distance.
Early on, the Redlegs seemingly had a beat on the Giants ace.
To begin the game, Billy Hamilton was robbed of certain extra bases after right fielder Hunter Pence made a spectacular grab to snare the ball out of mid-air. Todd Frazier followed up by homering for the second consecutive night; this one on a line into the front row of seats in the sun deck. The very next pitch saw Brandon Phillips smoke a base hit into left field, and Bumgarner after just four pitches, did not look incredibly sharp.
As is the story with most ace pitchers, all it took was a few batters to be retired and he settled in.
Much in the way that Billy Hamilton’s single in the fourth inning was unexpectedly the Reds final hit on Wednesday, when Frazier peppered a single into center in the third, there was no way to know that would be the final Cincinnati batter to even reach base.
Aided by incredible defense from Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford, Bumgarner would retire the final 16 batters he would face. In relief of him, George Kontos set down the side in the ninth, giving San Francisco 19 consecutive batters recorded as outs as they hopped on a leer jet back to the bay.
Stuck pitching on the wrong day for most of the season, the beat went on for Mike Leake.
As soon as Michael Morse’s two-run blast landed in the upper deck in the top of the second, it must have felt like throwing a boulder the rest of the afternoon. With an offense so severely decrepit, Leake trying to keep the game a one-run affair did not pan out in the Reds favor.
The seventh spot in the San Francisco Giants’ order struck again on Thursday afternoon, as this time it was Brandon Crawford who delivered the deathblow with his lumber. Clobbering a hanging breaking ball from Leake, Crawford homered to right center field, putting the Giants up 5-1.
There is no question that Bumgarner was the extraordinary performer of the contest, but a close second place vote goes to Crawford; who bailed out his starter on multiple occasions.
Once again faced with a looming blowout, Bryan Price had to turn to his exhausted long relief men. Attempting to stretch Sean Marshall out for two innings, his second did not go nearly as well as his first.
Striking out the side in the sixth inning, Marshall, chronic shoulder injuries and all, was sent back out for the seventh. After a walk and back-to-back singles, Marshall finally recorded a pop-up before being relieved.
Making his first appearance since Sunday afternoon was Aroldis Chapman, who regardless of the lack of “adrenaline” in the building, blew through the Giants in the ninth.
Striking out Buster Posey and Michael Morse, Chapman retired the side using mostly his changeup. An almost nearly unhittable pitcher before his reincarnation, hitters have to be downright frightened now that Chapman has three legitimate pitches he can fling at any batter.
The string of difficult southpaws continues for the Reds as they welcome the Philadelphia Phillies and Cole Hamels into town starting on Friday night.
It will be a matchup of the aces, as Hamels squares off with Johnny Cueto, who is looking to help the Reds get back to their winning ways, and back to .500 on the homestand thus far.
First pitch will get underway at 7:10 p.m. down at Great American Ball Park as two of the league’s best clash.