Bumgarner’s gem leads Giants over Rockies

giants sep 27 1
Madison Bumgarner #40 pitches against the Colorado Rockies during an MLB baseball game at AT&T Park
on September 27, 2011 in San Francisco, California
Photo By Thearon W. Henderson

By Adam Berry
Giants.mlb.com

SAN FRANCISCO — While the Giants will end the season Wednesday afternoon with just one player having enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, the majority of their rotation has been the model of consistency.

Even after their extended World Series run and subsequently shortened offseason, Matt Cain has thrown 221 2/3 innings, with one start remaining. Tim Lincecum finished the year with 217 innings pitched. Ryan Vogelsong unexpectedly emerged to average more than six innings per start and likely would have racked up 200-plus had he began the year in the rotation.

The Giants added Madison Bumgarner to the 200-innings club Tuesday night at AT&T Park as he allowed two hits over seven dominant innings in his final start to lead the Giants past the Rockies, 7-0, in the penultimate game of San Francisco’s title defense before a sold-out crowd of 42,370.

And the 22-year-old left-hander closed out his year in typical Bumgarner fashion, striking out nine and walking none on 94 pitches. With all of that, he earned his 13th win, bringing his final record to 13-13. A .500 winning percentage seemed unfathomable when he was tagged with a loss in each of his first six starts, or when he fell to 3-9 after a historically awful start against the Twins on June 21 in which he recorded only one out.

In his first full season in the Majors, the lefty finished with 191 strikeouts to just 46 walks in 204 2/3 innings pitched. That gives Bumgarner the best strikeouts-to-walks ratio among Giants starters and the second-highest mark on the team, behind only Sergio Romo’s outlandish 13.80.

And Bumgarner got the support as he needed, bringing his career record to 17-2 when receiving three or more runs. He has lost once over his last 20 starts when supported by at least three runs.

The opening salvo came in the first inning due largely to Rockies right-hander Alex White’s seemingly nonexistent command. Andres Torres fell behind 0-2 then took four straight balls to draw a leadoff walk, advanced to second and third on wild pitches and scored on Mike Fontenot’s sacrifice fly to left field.

But the bulk of Bumgarner’s backing came from a trio of lefty hitters: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Conor Gillaspie. Nearing the end of his up-and-down rookie campaign, Belt slammed a two-run homer off White and into McCovey Cove in the fourth inning — his first Splash Hit and the Giants’ fifth this season.

Even if it came in the final series of the year, Belt enjoyed the kind of night many people expected more often when he was named the Giants’ Opening Day first baseman. He went 3-for-3 with a homer and a walk, made a nice running grab in left-center field and displayed some heads-up baserunning by taking second base on an errant pickoff throw at first base in the sixth.

Crawford went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double and an RBI triple that scored Belt in the sixth inning. Two outs later, the 24-year-old shortstop broke for home on a wild pitch and scored. And Gillaspie wrapped up the scoring with a bizarre, albeit thoroughly entertaining, first career homer — an inside-the-park job in which he tripped while rounding third and slid headfirst into home.

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