The Giants finished off a 4 game sweep of the struggling Nationals today at PhoneCo Park today, 5 - 0. The Giants and Nats came into the series in the same boat, trying to catch a first place team. The difference was that the Nats were heavily favored to win the east and the National League while the Giants were, as usual, slated to finish behind LA. Only one of the teams could make a meaningful move, or neither could, but the Giants did it. The Giants look great lately - like it is the time in the season to make a move and they are ready to do it. What's more, they overcame a 0 - 3 record in 2015 against Washington after a disastrous July series there and won the match-up, 4 games to 3. Also, going back to that more recently disastrous 3 - 7 road trip that started July 31, they are at .500. A 5 - 1 home stand. The Giants only tallied 7 hits, but that included a Hunter Pence 3 run home run and a solo shot from (who else?) Madison Bumgarner. The Giants seem to be hitting a lot of doubles and triples lately. Doubles today for Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Madbum. Remember when the meme was that the Giants won on the road but not at home?
Let's talk about Madison Bumgarner, shall we? Today's line: 9 IP, 3 hits, 1 BB (what's up with that?), 0 runs, 112 pitches and 14 K. Madbum was 2 for 3 at the plate, with 2 rbi, including the solo shot home run. That is his 4th home run of the year. In 53 at bats. Project that out to a full season as a regular batter and you can put him down for 40 hr. His OPS today was a crisp 2.000. He has passed Jason Schmidt on the list of San Francisco strikeout leaders (in order: Juan Marichal, Tim Lincecum, Gaylord Perry, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner). He is the only SF Giant player besides Juan Marichal to hit a home run and strike out 10 players in the same game. It was his 5th double-digit K game of the season. Madison Bumgarner just turned 26 on August 1. The Nationals beat the Madison Bumgarner last October for their only win of the 5 game series, then knocked him out of the box with 6 runs after 5 innings on July 4. So, yeah, he wanted it. Bryce Harper went 0 - 4 against Madison, with 3 strikeouts. Make no mistake though. Harper is a beast. I was hoping, when he flied out to deep, deep center in the 7th, that he wouldn't get another chance, but he came up in the 9th for his 3rd K of the game.
The Nats are struggling, and as has been noted, Matt Williams may not last long as their manager. He has been criticized for his pitching moves (or lack of moves) and as being too much by-the-book. Some of the blame has to go to some of their hitters. Ian Desmond looked good this weekend, but he is carrying a .225 average, Rendon is at .247 and Zimmerman is at .219. Their pitchers, so good at the start of the season, were chased early and often by the Giants this weekend, and that chews up a bullpen. Sound familiar? And kharma-wise, Jonathan Papelbon cannot help a team.
But enough about them. The Giants are 6 games into a home-and-away 13 game stretch before an off day. They are heading to St. Louis for 3 and Pittsburgh for 4. Madison Bumgarner just bookended the home stand with complete games. Peavy gave us 5 2/3, Cain 4 2/3, Vogie 5 and Heston 6 1/3. In the past 7 days, Kontos has thrown 3 1/3 innings in 3 games, Petit 2 innings, Affeldt 1 inning, Romo 2 1/3 innings in 3 games (and looked damn good doing it), Hunter 2 innings, Casilla 1 innings, Lopez 2/3 innings in 2 games and Osich 1 1/3 innings in 2 games. That is, considering last Monday's off day, 13 1/3 innings in a week. Leake is expected to be start Tuesday, which frees up Vogie to spell Matt Cain, if necessary, or pitch long relief. Let's take some of this magic on the road and tamp down on some Cardinal and Pirate dreams!