LOS ANGELES – Clayton Kershaw might have taken up the torch from Sandy Koufax in Monday’s season opener, but Madison Bumgarner is pretty handy with a lasso.
He does a fair job on the mound, too.
Bumgarner all but yanked the bats out of the Dodgers’ hands while pitching the Giants to their first victory in 2013 Tuesday night. He mixed a slider and change with a fastball that had more butane than late last season, pumping strikes relentlessly while holding the Dodgers to two hits and nary another baserunner in eight innings of a 3-0 victory at Dodger Stadium.
Joaquin Arias, making a rare start at first base in place of the ailing Brandon Belt, hit an RBI single in the fourth inning and started a two-run rally in the seventh when his roller to Justin Sellers resulted in the first of two throwing errors in the inning for the Dodgers’ fill-in shortstop.
Sergio Romo, appearing for the first time since his daring 89 mph fastball surprised a Triple Crown winner to capture a World Series, entered to boos and converted his first save chance of the year.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner carried over his solid spring with a brilliant debut effort. He was much crisper than the tail end of last season, when his fastball seldom topped 89 mph. This time, he topped out at 93 mph, sat at 91 and established his two-seamer on both sides of the plate while striking out six.
More to the point, he located almost everything while throwing a staggering 76 of 101 pitches for strikes.
Bumgarner only elevated a few pitches in the second inning, when Andre Ethier cranked a two-out double into the left field corner. Bumgarner followed up by striking out A.J. Ellis on a series of fastballs – then didn’t allow another baserunner until Ellis lined a two-out double in the eighth inning.
In between Bumgarner retired 18 consecutive batters, and he didn’t employ any magic. It was just a steady stream of strikes, and a fastball that was so good it begged to be thrown in 0-2 counts.
Bumgarner didn’t go to his first three-ball count until the last batter of the sixth inning, Jerry Hairston Jr. And Bumgarner spared nothing for Ethier after that double in the second inning. When he faced him again in the fifth inning, Bumgarner went curve, slider, four-seam fastball and slider – four strikes, the last one swinging. In the eighth, Bumgarner threw four fastballs for strikes, none of which Ethier could put into play.
He painted one more pitch after Ellis’ double in the eighth, freezing pinch hitter Nick Punto with a fastball on the black to end the inning.
Romo appeared displeased with himself after a couple of pitches to pinch hitter Carl Crawford that weren’t close to the zone, but he found his bearings quickly enough. He worked a 1-2-3 inning, and gave an emphatic point skyward after a slider froze Mark Ellis to end the game.
At the plate
If you had Arias in the pool for “first Giant to drive in a run in 2013,” then take a bow. His sharp hit up the middle followed one-out singles by Buster Posey and Hunter Pence to get the Giants on the board in the fourth inning.
It was the hit the Giants couldn’t get against Clayton Kershaw in Monday’s opener. They weren’t able to break through in the first three innings against Ryu, either, even though they had plenty of good swings against him.
Posey and Torres hit into double plays and Angel Pagan was thrown out trying to stretch a single as the Giants tallied five hits but no runs against Ryu in the first three innings. Torres minimized the rally in the fourth when he struck out with two aboard.
The Giants were outhitting the Dodgers 9-1 entering the seventh inning yet led just 1-0. Then the Dodgers and Sellers opened the door. Arias reached on Sellers’ throwing error, Torres rifled a single to right field and Brandon Crawford, still looking for his first hit of the year, made a productive out when his grounder to first base advanced both runners.
The Dodgers made a pitching change, bringing in hard-throwing right-hander Ronald Belisario to face Bumgarner – something that surely was taken as a point of pride with the big-swinging kid from North Carolina. Bumgarner showed a good piece of two-strike hitting, too, managing to put the ball in play.
As Giants manager Bruce Bochy often says, when you put the ball in play, you create a chance for good things to happen. In this case, good things came in the form of Sellers’ wild throw to the plate, which probably wouldn’t have been in time to get Arias anyway. Catcher A.J. Ellis sprinted to the netting to retrieve the ball, for what good that did. Belisario forgot to cover the plate, which allowed Torres to score from second base without a play.
The official scorer saw fit to give Bumgarner an RBI. The pitcher had a hit earlier in the game, too.
Yes, that’s right: Arias and Bumgarner own the only RBIs by the Giants through two games. Whatever works, right?
Head to head, the Giants probably hold the biggest checkmark over the Dodgers when it comes to defense. There was no comparison this time.
Hunter Pence played a strong game in right field, getting a good read and taking a perfect route to track down Adrian Gonzalez’s deep drive to the wall in the second inning. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval snared Luis Cruz’s hard-hit shot in the fifth, then made an even harder play when he stretched to grab Matt Kemp’s hard grounder down the line in the seventh.
Arias, playing at first base for the first time since 2010 with the Texas Rangers (when he started five games), showed off a shortstop’s soft hands while picking no fewer than four throws.
The Dodgers announced 45,431 paid, and the fans were less than impressed with Mr. Ryu’s “effort” to run out a ground ball.
The Giants and Dodgers play the rubber match of this season-opening three-game series by sending out a pair of right-handers hoping for serious bounce-back years. Tim Lincecum takes the mound against the Dodgers’ Josh Beckett. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.