Bay Area Baseball

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April 9, 2013
Giants notes: Posey in the RBI column, Bumgarner grinds it out

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy is being pretty open about the fact that his team is "not clicking offensively" right now, which until the eighth inning of Monday night's 4-2 win over the Rockies included reigning N.L. MVP Buster Posey.

Posey, who entered the game 4-for-20, came up in the first inning with two on and struck out ahead of Hunter Pence's three-run homer. In a similar situation in the eighth, though, he waited on an 0-2 breaking ball from Chris Volstad and lined it into right field to give the Giants a welcome insurance run.

It was the first RBI of the season for Posey, who collected 103 of them last year and didn't once go six games without one, as he had to start this season.

"I hadn't been letting the ball travel the first three at-bats (Monday)," Posey said. "So it was nice to pick up another run there going into the ninth."

It looked like the Giants might need it when Josh Rutledge hit a leadoff double against Sergio Romo. But Romo struck out the next three hitters for his fourth save in as many chances.

Posey went 1-for-4 Monday with two strikeouts and has eight strikeouts in 24 at-bats. He admitted afterward that his stroke is "not great right now."

"But that's the beautiful thing about this game is you just keep working," he said. "You're going to have times where you feel great at the plate and other times you don't feel at your best, and you just keep on grinding."

Bochy isn't worried this early about some of the slower starts, such as Posey (5-for-24), Marco Scutaro (3-for-27) and Brandon Belt (2-for-17). Posey and Scutaro have track records, and Belt was maybe the hottest hitter in the Cactus League this spring.

"It wasn't a good night for him until that base hit," Bochy said of Posey. "But it's all about being resilient. ... That's a credit to his makeup."

* In terms of his own outings, Madison Bumgarner was following a tough act Monday. He was so sharp in his first outing against the Dodgers, throwing eight scoreless innings, that he didn't get into a three-ball count until the sixth. The Rockies made him work a little harder Monday -- he needed 104 pitches to get through 5 2/3 innings, walked five (one intentional) and threw first-pitch strikes to just 11 of 25 hitters.

"Pretty much every inning felt like a battle," Bumgarner said.

Still, Bumgarner left with a 3-2 lead in the sixth only after the last hitter he faced, Josh Rutledge, singled in a run with two outs. That was going to be Bumgarner's final hitter regardless, Bochy said. The only other run he allowed came on Carlos Gonzalez's long home run in the third.

"It's hard to be as sharp as he was his first game," Bochy said. "That's how good he was. But he competed well. Gutty effort by him. He did walk some guys, but he kept his poise out there and made pitches."

Bumgarner said he just didn't do as good a job of executing pitches Monday as in his first start. The Rockies also put together some tough at-bats, such as Michael Cuddyer leading off the fourth with an 11-pitch walk in which he fouled off six pitches.

"Physically everything felt fine," Bumgarner said. "There was a few mental lapses. I didn't feel like I had the same trust in myself as I had the last time out. You're not going to feel that way every time, but you've got to know that going in.

"That was the only thing for me, just the mental side. Not trusting what I should have."

That said, Bumgarner improved to 2-0 on the season and helped the Giants nip a two-game skid in the bud. That was a big role for Bumgarner last year -- he made 20 of his 32 starts following a Giants loss (the next-highest total among the starters was 14) and went 10-6 in those games (the Giants were 12-8). He's 2-for-2 in that category in 2013.

Posey said Bumgarner did a good job most of the night Monday keeping pitches on the corners. The pitch Gonzalez hit was a hanging curve -- one of the "mental lapses" -- and Gonzalez didn't miss.

"He was pretty sharp still," Posey said. "I thought he had good stuff."

* Bochy said before the game he was hoping Bumgarner could give the Giants some innings to help rest the bullpen, which compiled nine innings Saturday and Sunday. He went 5 2/3, but the Giants needed just Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Romo to close it out.

Casilla struck out Yorvit Torrealba to strand the tying run on second in the sixth and retired the side in order in the seventh. Affeldt came in to face the heart of the Rockies' order in the eighth and set them down 1-2-3, including right-handers Troy Tulowitzki and Cuddyer.

"He's going to be our guy in the seventh, eighth inning," Bochy said of Affeldt. "He's not a guy I just use against lefties. He can face righties too. He's got great stuff. That's why he's back there. He's so versatile."

* There were two home runs hit here Monday, and both were crushed. Pence's landed about halfway up the bleachers in left field. Gonzalez cleared the arcade seating in right and one-hopped the walkway outside into McCovey Cove.

Pence's was his second at home this season. He hit two in 36 games at AT&T Park last year, including the playoffs. The Giants think they'll have some better power numbers this year, in no small part because they'll have a full season of Pence and -- if he stays healthy -- Pablo Sandoval, and Pence is off to a good start.

"He's got some of the best power I've ever seen," Posey said of Pence. "I hit with him in batting practice every day and I try to make sure to hit before him so I don't have to follow his moon shots."

* Several Giants said it was nice to get back to a normal routine Monday after the weekend festivities. It'll be another night game Tuesday, with Tim Lincecum starting against Juan Nicasio. We'll be back at it then.

-- 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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