The SF Giants left Pittsburgh with a 6-1 road trip, looking forward to a couple of home series against non-contenders, beginning with one of the weakest teams in the majors, the Philadelphia Phillies. Plus two of the three games would be pitched by their aces, Bumgarner and Cueto.
But it turned out to be not that easy. All three games were decided by one run. As happened in Pittsburgh, the Giants couldn't score for MadBum and he took the 3-2 loss. The others were victories, and on Sunday, it came down to the last of the ninth--with an erratic Cueto long gone-- and consecutive doubles by the rooks Pena and Gillaspie to notch Bruce Bochy's 800th win as Giants manager, 8-7.
Meanwhile back in Pittsburgh where the Giants had taken 2 of 3, the Pirates beat the Los Angeles Dodgers three games straight (with a fourth coming up Monday), and the Giants division lead is extended to 8 games. Sunday's game saw yet another brand new pitcher on the mound for Pittsburgh, as the Pirates touched Clayton Kershaw for 4 runs and only his second loss of the season.
Sunday's game in San Francisco was out of kilter, with 4 hit batsmen, numerous lead changes and strange plays. The root of it all may well have been the unpredictable calls behind the plate. It unnerved everybody when balls were called strikes, and some highly obvious strikes were called balls. There's nothing that can turn this game unstable more than an erratic plate umpire.
Besides Gillaspie's winning hit, the game featured four hits by Angel Pagan, who came very close to homering twice. The first time it was barely foul, the second hit off the top of the wall, which scored a run but which ended up with Pagan called out trying to stretch it into a triple, although possibly trying to draw the throw to make sure the run got in.
The Giants' bullpen was tested in this series and seemed tired. Denard Span seems to need a day off badly, judging from his plate appearances on Sunday.
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