Notes: Why Giants bunted four times in blowout vs Dodgers


Notes: Why Giants bunted four times in blowout vs Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants had 12 runs on 17 hits on Thursday, not exactly the type of game you would expect to find four bunt attempts in. But that’s exactly what they did in the series opener against the Dodgers. Two of the bunts were called from the bench, two were done by the player in the box.

“That might be the record,” manager Bruce Bochy said, smiling, when asked if he could remember one of his teams squaring that often.

Bochy isn’t the biggest fan of the bunt, and his Giants only had six games last year with more than one sacrifice. Thursday’s bunt-fest happened for a number of reasons. 

Denard Span tried to reach on a bunt in the sixth but didn't make it. That one was Span, who was recovering from the flu, trying to surprise the Dodgers on his own. The most impactful bunt came in the fifth when Bochy sent Kelby Tomlinson up to pinch-hit. Tomlinson had watched Alex Wood closely and noticed that he was falling off the mound to one side and was finishing his pitches off-balance. He figured he had a good shot at getting to the bag before Wood could get a throw off. That bunt helped ignite a three-run rally, and Bochy appreciated Tomlinson’s attention to detail.

[PAVLOVIC: Focused Giants at-bats lead to late breakthrough]

“It’s telling me he’s watching the game (from the bench) and watching the pitcher,” Bochy said. “If every one of these players could be a coach for one year, they’d be a better player. It’s a great way to learn the game.”

Tomlinson’s heads-up play was followed an inning later by an interesting decision. After back-to-back singles in the sixth, Bochy sent Ehire Adrianza up to bunt. Chris Heston, who handles the bat well, was in that spot, but Bochy didn’t worry that he was burning a second bench player on a bunt. 

“We bunted into a double play in Milwaukee with the pitcher (Jeff Samardzija),” Bochy said. “Adrianza is probably our best bunter. When you put a pitcher up there to bunt, you take away any doubt. If you don’t put any doubt in their minds, they can crash hard and get a double play.”

Adrianza put down a perfect sacrifice and Angel Pagan followed with a single that brought in both runners now in scoring position. In the eighth, the Giants called for another bunt. This time it was Span who got the orders. He said he felt it was because he was hitless in four at-bats and facing a left-hander. It worked out perfectly — Span reached on a bunt single and scored on Hunter Pence’s grand slam.

[RELATED: Krukow compares great Giants offenses: 'No soft spot' in '16 lineup]

Four bunts, two hits, two runs, and a sacrifice that led to a two-run single. That’s the type of execution that wins you a lot of games.

--- Buster Posey is off tonight but will catch Madison Bumgarner tomorrow. Bochy changed the lineup, moving pitcher Matt Cain back to the No. 9 spot and sliding Pagan up to seventh. He said this is a one-time thing; he still likes the pitcher hitting eighth. Tonight's change was simply because Posey is sitting, so Trevor Brown hits eighth and everyone else slides up.

Giants vs. Dodgers lineups: Shaun Anderson opposes Clayton Kershaw

Giants vs. Dodgers lineups: Shaun Anderson opposes Clayton Kershaw

On Monday, Tyler Beede got a win in his first-ever start against the Dodgers. On Tuesday, Giants rookie right-hander Shaun Anderson will attempt to do the same.

Anderson (2-1, 3.97 ERA) enters Tuesday's start at Dodger Stadium on a roll. He's coming off three consecutive outings in which he went at least six innings and gave up no more than three runs, and he's picked up two victories over that span.

Anderson will face a significant challenge in his first-ever start at Chavez Ravine, not just in the formidable Dodgers' lineup, but in Giants' nemesis Clayton Kershaw. While Kershaw (6-1, 3.13 ERA) took his first loss of the season on June 7 against the Giants, he's dominated San Francisco throughout his career, and enters Tuesday's start with a 22-11 record against the Giants with a 1.72 ERA over 330 1/3 innings.

[RELATED: Beede relieved to get first big league win against Dodgers]

First pitch for Dodgers vs. Giants is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT with pregame coverage beginning at 6 p.m. You can follow all the action on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming online and on the MyTeams app.

San Francisco Giants(31-39)
Donovan Solano, 2B
Brandon Belt, LF
Tyler Austin, 1B
Buster Posey, C
Evan Longoria, 3B
Kevin Pillar, RF
Brandon Crawford, SS
Steven Duggar, CF
Shaun Anderson, RHP (2-1, 3.97 ERA)

Los Angeles Dodgers (48-25)
Joc Pederson. LF
Alex Verdugo, CF
Justin Turner, 3B
Cody Bellinger, RF
Max Muncy, 2B
Matt Beaty, 1B
Chris Taylor, SS
Austin Barnes, C
Clayton Kershaw, LHP (6-1, 3.13 ERA)

What can Giants get in Madison Bumgarner trade? Tim Kurkjian answers

What can Giants get in Madison Bumgarner trade? Tim Kurkjian answers

Every Madison Bumgarner start can be his last as a Giant. 

The July 31 MLB trade deadline is over a month away, but Bumgarner could be gone before we know it. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is sure to be taking and making calls regarding his team's ace. Those calls should start with the New York Yankees, ESPN MLB analyst Tim Kurkjian says. 

"The Yankees have to be at the top of that list," Kurkjian said Tuesday on KNBR. "Their lineup is ridiculously productive when it comes to hitting the ball out of the ballpark. But I still think they're one really good starting pitcher short of going into October as the team to beat. ... The question is, how much are they willing to give up?"

One Yankee the Giants should covet could be more available than ever. Clint Frazier, 24, was demoted to Triple-A on Sunday to make room for veteran slugger Edwin Encarnacion, despite Frazier proving he clearly belongs in a major league lineup. Through 53 games this year, Frazier is batting .283 with 11 home runs and a .513 slugging percentage. 

Frazier is the exact kind of player the Giants should be pursuing. He struggles on defense and has received ample criticism this year for his play in the outfield, but he's a young, right-handed power bat that can actually hit the ball over the wall at Oracle Park. Frazier would also be under team control through 2024.

It won't be that easy to acquire him, however.

"I had an executive tell me the other day, 'There's no way the Yankees would trade Frazier even straight up for Bumgarner.' I think the Giants would need Frazier and at least another top prospect before they're gonna move Bumgarner, even in a rental situation," Kurkjian said. 

The Yankees still value Frazier even though there might not be room for him on a star-studded roster. On the other hand, the Giants want to make sure they get the best return possible for a team legend despite the fact he'll be a free agent at the end of the season. 

"How many teams are going to be willing to give up a tremendous amount for a two-month rental who's not the best he's ever been?" Kurkjian said. 

Bumgarner is 3-6 with a 3.87 ERA this season. That doesn't tell the whole story, though. His ERA has lowered every month so far. In March/April he posted a 4.30 ERA in six starts; in May he had a 3.72 ERA in six more starts and he has a 3.32 ERA through three starts in June.

The big left-hander has seen his fastball velocity rise as well. Bumgarner's average fastball velocity of 92.2 mph also is his highest since 2015, according to Brooks Baseball.

Oh, and there's that whole playoffs thing, too. 

[RELATED: History shows teams shouldn't wait to trade for MadBum]

The Yankees need Bumgarner to win another ring. The Giants need Frazier for the ball to go over the wall.

Let's make a deal.