Bay Area Baseball

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April 20, 2013
Torres atones, Pagan delivers, Bumgarner shines in Giants' win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Standing on first base, Andres Torres was not happy with himself. His pinch-hit sacrifice attempt had bounced straight to Padres reliever Luke Gregerson, who wheeled and threw to second base to force out Gregor Blanco. It nullified Blanco's single leading off the ninth in a 2-2 game. Torres turned to confer with first-base coach Roberto Kelly, who told him: "Try to get a good jump, and go."

PAGAN.jpg"You want to get your job done," Torres said. "But then it was like, forget about that, try to get a good jump and get in scoring position."

Torres took off on the second pitch of the at-bat. Padres catcher Nick Hundley's throw was off line and a little high, and Torres slid in safely with his first stolen base of the season. The next pitch, Angel Pagan (pictured, left, off-balance as No. 48 Pablo Sandoval and other teammates celebrate with him) lined a 2-0 slider to right field to drive in Torres and snap the Giants' three-game losing streak.

"We needed it," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We got a bad bunt, but Torres, that's a clutch steal there for us."

Torres stole his last base for the Giants on Sept. 28, 2011, against the Colorado Rockies. He couldn't recall the last time he scored the winning run in a walk-off win. For Pagan, it was his first walk-off hit since July 1 of last season against the Reds. Pagan said he got a decent look at Torres' jump.

"I wasn't going to swing," Pagan said. "I can kind of see him with the corner of my right eye. He got an excellent jump."

So he thought Torres had it stolen?

"All the way," Pagan said. "All the way."

• Pagan said the pitch he hit was a slider on which he kept his swing through the strike zone just long enough to loop it into right field. He kept running after Torres had crossed the plate and had just rounded second when he was mobbed by teammates.

"I got punched really hard," Pagan said. "Pablo was coming like a bull. But I mean, it's good. That's a good feeling."

WINNINGHIT.jpgPagan (left, following through on his game-winning hit) had already batted three times in the game with a runner in scoring position and two outs and gone hitless in all three at-bats. He said he wasn't thinking about that so much as getting a chance to put an end to the three-game skid as he stood on deck.

"It's one of those situations where you want to be the guy," Pagan said. "We needed that win."

• Though Blanco was erased on the basepaths, the ninth-inning rally began with his third hit of the night. It was a bloop single to left field on which Blanco took a step toward first before even swinging the bat. The idea there is to hit the ball on the ground and try to leg out a hit, so when Blanco saw the ball airborne, he said he "got disappointed."

"But I forgot to look at the outfielders," he said. "They were playing no-doubles (deep) and that helped me out to get on base."

Blanco also singled in his first at-bat on an excuse-me swing that produced a ball down the third-base line that just eluded the dive of Chase Headley. After making solid contact with nothing to show for it in a handful of at-bats in the Giants' last series against the Brewers, in which he went 2-for-12, Blanco saw the irony.

"Back in Milwaukee I hit the ball several times hard, and tonight I got two hits with pretty much a half-swing," he said. "That's baseball."

• The Giants took pretty much the same attitude toward Madison Bumgarner's pull-back in a bunt situation in the sixth, which almost ended disastrously. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Bochy sent Bumgarner up to hit despite later saying the lefty was done on the mound after six innings and 99 pitches.

Bumgarner showed bunt, leading Headley to crash from third base and shortstop Everth Cabrera to break to cover third. Bumgarner pulled the bat back and hit a sharp grounder right at Cabrera, who tagged Brandon Belt and threw to second to force out Blanco. The turn by Jedd Gyorko was off-line, or else the Padres might have turned a triple play.

"Actually Bum did a great job there," Bochy said. "The play they're running, it's hard to bunt into that. They're running the wheel, and if he lays it down, there's a good chance he bunts into a double-play. He did what you're supposed to do. He smoked a ball and there's a lot of holes out there when you run a play like that."

Bumgarner, who anticipated Headley crashing, was as surprised as anyone.

"That's what we practice, and that's where you want to hit it usually," he said. "Every time I've seen it hit there, it's been a hit."

• Bumgarner stayed in to run the bases but didn't come out for the seventh, despite his having 10 strikeouts and a left-hander, Yonder Alonso, leading off the inning. Bochy, who had left-hander Jose Mijares ready in the bullpen, said it had already been decided that Bumgarner wouldn't start the seventh.

"He was at that point and we knew it," Bochy said.

Bumgarner continued his strong start to the season, allowing four hits and no walks and striking out a season-high 10, including five in a row at one point. Chris Denorfia hit a soft double to right to lead off the game, moved up on a bunt and scored on a fly ball to center. Bumgarner didn't allow another run until the sixth, when Headley took him deep on a 2-1 slider to tie the game at 2-2.

"Looking back now it probably wasn't the best pitch to throw to him," Bumgarner said. "I threw it pretty much where I wanted to throw it. ... I shook to it, too. Buster didn't want to call it. That was on me there."

The double play in the bottom of the inning ensured a no-decision for Bumgarner, who remains the steadiest thing the Giants have going right now in their starting rotation. The lefty hasn't allowed more than two runs in his first four starts and has a 2.05 ERA.

"He left a couple pitches up that first inning, but he pitched great," Bochy said. "Can't say enough about the job he did. Kept us there, and that's a great win for us, especially after getting swept in Milwaukee."

• After Mijares retired Alonso to start the seventh, George Kontos came on and got the next four outs before yielding a two-out double to Denorfia in the eighth. With a switch hitter coming up in Cabrera, that prompted Bochy to bring in Santiago Casilla.

Casilla got Cabrera to ground out, then came back out for the ninth and retired the heart of the Padres' order in order, including two left-handed hitters -- Headley and Alonso, both swinging. Bochy has lauded Casilla's versatility, and it was on full display tonight.

• In support of the people of Boston, the Giants in the middle of the eighth inning played "Sweet Caroline" -- the Fenway Park staple -- over the sound system rather than the usual Journey selection. Fans chimed in with the chorus, and a few nailed the "So good" refrain as well.

In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Giants announced increased security and ramped-up measures at the gates, including bag searches and wanding of fans. After it appeared there were a few more empty seats than usual around AT&T Park at first pitch, TV cameras showed a really long line of people outside the park still waiting to get in. It had filled in by the middle innings, with the Giants announcing a crowd of 41,559 and the park's 172nd consecutive regular-season sellout.

Giants team leaders, schedule, roster news

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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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