Giants drop seesaw affair with Rockies
Bumgarner allows first grand slam as early lead vanishes
DENVER -- Jordan Pacheco's fifth-inning grand slam, the biggest hit for the Colorado Rockies in their 10-9 victory Friday night over the Giants, was almost obscured amid a flurry of activity that accounted for the game's three-hour, 48-minute duration.
Pacheco's drive capped Colorado's five-run fifth inning that erased a 5-4 Giants lead and pinned a career-worst nine runs on Madison Bumgarner. But a lot happened before and after that. Before, the Giants maintained the shabby defense that has marred their trip, committing a season-high four errors that accounted for two unearned runs. After Pacheco's slam, the Giants hit for the cycle in the seventh and eighth innings, with Hunter Pence's RBI triple galvanizing a three-run seventh and Buster Posey's eighth-inning homer reducing the difference to a single run.
But Dexter Fowler's diving catch of Angel Pagan's sinking liner with two outs and Joaquin Arias at third base denied the Giants a key run in the seventh inning. The jumbled combination of events ultimately halted the Giants' 10-game winning streak against Colorado and Bumgarner's stretch of six consecutive victories over the Rockies.
Predictably, Giants manager Bruce Bochy focused most on the errors, which hiked his club's total to nine in the four games played here and in Toronto.
"We shot ourselves in the foot, that's what stands out," Bochy said. "That's too many errors, particularly in this ballpark. Walks and errors kill you. ... We have to tighten things up."
As he did in Toronto, second baseman Marco Scutaro dropped a catchable first-inning popup, but it didn't mushroom into runs for the Rockies.
The second inning was different. With Wilin Rosario on first base and nobody out, Bumgarner fielded Nolan Arenado's comebacker and threw the ball into center field. Only one run scored, but Bumgarner was forced to throw additional pitches to escape the inning.
"I just felt like I needed to rush, which I didn't," Bumgarner said. "... That's something we know better. You get a little bit lackadaisical sometimes and don't do what you mean to do."
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval made an ill-advised throw past first base on Eric Young's third-inning grounder, enabling the Rockies' leadoff batter to reach second base. After Fowler bunted for a hit, Pagan scooped up Carlos Gonzalez's RBI single to center field and flung his throw on one hop into the stands behind third base.
"We haven't missed a cutoff man too much," Bochy said. But he didn't excuse that mistake or the others. "They shouldn't be happening," he declared.
Yet the Rockies never led until Pacheco crushed a cut fastball, the first pitch he saw from Bumgarner, into the left-field seats with two outs in the fifth inning. It was the first grand slam allowed in the Majors by Bumgarner, whose ERA climbed from 2.18 to 3.09.
As Bumgarner's pitch count soared toward and past 100, Bochy knew the left-hander was struggling. But he also maintained faith in the tough North Carolinian.
"I was going to give him a chance at one more hitter and it backfired, obviously," Bochy said. "Sure, those are tough calls. But with those runners out there, his runners, I was going to give him a chance to get out of it."
Bumgarner appreciated Bochy's belief in him.
"He's an awesome manager," Bumgarner said. "I love playing for him. I wish I could have made him look good right there. It didn't work out that way today."
As a result, the ERA of San Francisco's starting pitchers rose to 10.13 on this trip. It's also 4.69 overall, 13th in the National League.
"We have to pitch better, too," Bochy said.
Another ingredient that did not influence the game's outcome but thickened the stew was a third-inning incident in which Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado's baserunner at first, noticed a black smudge on the baseball Bumgarner had and asked first-base umpire Tim McClelland, who's also the crew chief, to check it. In no way was Tulowitzki trying to start a fuss, though it appeared that he and Bumgarner exchanged words.
"You respect the game and there's something on the baseball, so let's get rid of it and move on," Tulowitzki told CSN Bay Area. "You respect guys who compete. I have respect for [Bumgarner] and hopefully he has the same for me."
Said Bumgarner, "I was just a little confused about why the runner at first base was asking for the ball to be checked. That was it. I didn't really know what was going on for a minute, but it wasn't a big deal."