Barry Bonds was hanging around the batting cage before the game, talking to players about hitting, and talking about players to coaches. In the game, the SF Giants collected 22 hits, setting a record for the 16 years of their current ballpark. Coincidence?
The Giants chased Phillies ace Cole Hamels in the rout, winning 15-2. Hunter Pence hit a grand slam homer to the opposite field in his third game back. Normally the story would be all about that. Not this game. Joe Panik, Matt Duffy and Justin Maxwell all had four hits. Three players with four hits hasn't happened since the 60s. Panik hit a two run homer that got wet on a bounce. Maxwell had two doubles and a triple. Angel Pagan, finally rested and his injury better, had three hits and two RBIs batting leadoff. Brandon Belt (seen in conference with Barry Bonds earlier) had two doubles.
Yet the game started slowly. Both SF Giant Madison Bumgarner and Hamels looked pretty sharp in the early innings. The Giants scraped a run, and the Phillies got two on a homer. It looked like another low scoring, low support Bumgarner start. Lately the Giants have held on until he weakened in about the sixth, and then the bullpen did or didn't hold a small lead. But the fourth just exploded with 9 runs, so not even a grand slam got the majority of them.
Plus Bumgarner continued his torrid hitting--he's over .400 for the past month or so--with a couple of hits and an RBI. He's still tiring in the late innings, though.
There was more good news for the Giants. Pitcher Tim Hudson looks very close to ready, reliever Jeremy Affelt pretty close ( with Tim Lincecum better but not close) and outfielder Aoki improving faster than expected. He may be back in a couple of weeks.
Good news also for the Pirates, who beat their division rival the St. Louis Cardinals. When they've made a run in recent years, it was because they handled the Cards, and when they fell short--like last year--it was because they didn't. They lost the first game of this set, but won 5-2 on Friday behind Geritt Cole's majors-leading 13th win, and Neil Walker's 2-run homer.
The Giants have the mo to get the sweep they should get against the Phillies, and that they need going into the break. They are still 5.5 games behind LA.