Bay Area Baseball

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April 2, 2013
Giants: Bumgarner throws gem, helps himself; Arias pitches in

LOS ANGELES -- Madison Bumgarner said it was "pretty weird" waiting in the on-deck circle while the Dodgers made a pitching change ahead of his spot in the lineup Tuesday night. Out went lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, in came right-hander Ronald Belisario, and up went Bumgarner to take his at-bat with runners on second and third in a 1-0 game.

"No," manager Bruce Bochy said with a scoff when asked if he considered pinch-hitting for his starter. "The way he was throwing the ball there wasn't one thought. I don't take a starter out that's given up one hit and is throwing the ball the way he is in that situation.

"Plus he's a guy that can handle the bat a little bit. He got a hit earlier and I was hoping he could find a way to put the ball in play, and he did."

Bumgarner hit a chopper that Dodgers shortstop Justin Sellers charged, fielded and threw wildly home. Joaquin Arias scored from third and Andres Torres sped home behind him as Belisario neglected to cover home. With that, Bumgarner gave himself some insurance that he didn't need in the Giants' first win of 2013, a 3-0 decision at Dodger Stadium in which Bumgarner threw eight scoreless innings.

After Andre Ethier's two-out double in the second inning, Bumgarner retired 18 Dodgers in a row. When A.J. Ellis snapped that stretch with a double in the eighth, Bumgarner promptly struck out Nick Punto to end the inning.

Catcher Buster Posey said it "seemed like (Bumgarner) was in control from start to finish." He threw 76 of his 101 pitches for strikes. He didn't start a hitter off with a ball until the sixth inning, the same inning he got into his first three-ball count.

"I felt really good," Bumgarner said. "That's probably the best I've felt in a long time, which was odd. Usually it don't work out too good the first start of the year, really the first month of the year.

"It feels good to get started on a good note this time."

Bochy said Bumgarner's performance was a clear sign that the 23-year-old has distanced himself from the mechanical issues he experienced late last August and September. Bumgarner and pitching coach Dave Righetti worked out a fix before the World Series and Bumgarner said he hasn't tweaked anything this spring.

Bumgarner also said he didn't use his two-seam fastball at all Tuesday because his four-seamer had some run on it and his cutter was sharp.

"Hitters, especially righties, are conscious of him pounding the ball in," Posey said. "So he throws the ball in so well, when he can locate on the outside corner he's going to be tough."

As for the at-bat in the seventh, Bumgarner said he wasn't sure at first what happened on the play at the plate because he was "trying to bust it down to first base.

"I heard everybody cheering," Bumgarner said. "I thought they threw him out."

* Having thrown 101 pitches, Bumgarner yielded the ball in the ninth to Sergio Romo, who came in from the bullpen to a chorus of boos at Dodger Stadium. Romo retired the side in order, striking out Mark Ellis looking for the final out.

Romo punctuated the save with an emphatic point to the sky and said afterward it was good to get his first save opportunity cleanly in the books.

"Yeah, definitely," he said. "I'm a very emotional person to begin with. So just to be able to contribute to a team win was huge for me, any way just to be part of the happiness around here."

* In that "team win" vein, Bochy said Joaquin Arias had a "great game" starting at first base in place of Brandon Belt, who was still sick with a virus Tuesday. Arias picked up two hits, drove in a run, scored a run and made several nice defensive plays, including a clean scoop of a low throw from shortstop Brandon Crawford in the first inning.

"He made some nice picks, swung the bat well," Bochy said. "It takes 25 guys to help you during the season."

* Bochy said Belt, who looked pretty peaked when he arrived at the stadium Tuesday, was available to pinch hit Tuesday if he'd been needed. The hope is Belt will be healthy enough to play Wednesday with the Dodgers starting a righty in Josh Beckett.

* Gregor Blanco will make his first start of the season in left field Wednesday, Bochy confirmed, after Andres Torres started the first two games of the series against left-handers. Bochy also said Posey will catch Tim Lincecum.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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