Morse leads offensive outburst as Giants sweep Twins
San Francisco improves Major League's best record in series finale
SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Morse hit a bases-loaded double, stood on second base, and shook his head as A-ha's "Take On Me" blared and the AT&T Park crowd stood and cheered. He couldn't help but giggle and point back to the announced 42,590 fans in attendance.
"The fans here are the best fans in baseball," he said. "They prove it every day by coming to the park. They support us. Moments like that make you humble and happy to be here."
Morse's three-RBI double in the fifth punctuated the Giants' 8-1 win over the Twins on Sunday afternoon. His special day included three doubles and four RBIs to help clinch a three-game series sweep and improve the Majors' best record to 32-18.
Starter Madison Bumgarner (6-3, 3.15 ERA) went seven innings, struck out 10 and allowed three hits. He's one of many Giants playing their best ball this month.
"We got a good team, better than a lot of people realized at the start of the year," Bumgarner said. "We play together. On paper it may not be the best team, but I'd put us against anybody. We don't have anyone who's selfish. We play as a complete team."
Bumgarner also avenged his worst career start. On June 21, 2011, against the Twins, he recorded just one out and allowed eight runs, becoming the first player in baseball's modern era to allow as many as nine hits while recording fewer than two outs. He had not gotten a chance to face Minnesota again until Sunday.
"I didn't forget that," Bumgarner said. "It sticks with you."
This time, Bumgarner worked all sides of the plate and even struck out the patient Joe Mauer three times.
Minnesota is a "different club [than in 2011], but I think he wanted to even things out a little bit," manager Bruce Bochy said of Bumgarner, whose only run allowed was Brian Dozier's sacrifice fly in the third.
Ricky Nolasco (2-5, 6.12 ERA) lasted just 4 2/3 innings for the Twins (23-24) and yielded nine hits and seven runs. The Twins have dropped five consecutive games against the Giants dating back to June 22, 2011.
The Giants built a 2-0 lead in the first inning behind Pablo Sandoval's RBI single and Morse's sacrifice fly.
In the third inning, Hunter Pence hit a solo home run, his sixth homer this year, for a 3-1 lead. It could have been a two-run dinger, but Gregor Blanco was caught stealing second. Still, Blanco went 3-for-4 with a run as a fill-in at the leadoff spot and center field for Angel Pagan, who was given the day off.
Morse led off the fourth with a double and was plated by Brandon Crawford's sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
Four Giants batters had a multihit game, while the Twins notched only four hits as a team. Neither Bumgarner or reliever George Kontos walked a batter.
Bumgarner "has a lot of deception with his delivery and that was part of it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He can throw different pitches for strikes and he pounded the strike zone."
Morse and Bumgarner have a funny back-and-forth going about the one time Morse hit a home run off Bumgarner, two years ago in Washington. When asked about what makes Bumgarner so good, Morse joked, "Don't know. I took him deep," to which Bumgarner later explained, "I had an idea he was going to end up here. I wanted to get a friendship going."
Morse made "Take On Me" his walk-up song for his third turn in the lineup during his tenure with the Washington Nationals. The Giants have embraced him as much as the '80s pop classic.
Said Morse: "It's like the playoffs every day here."