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.
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“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.
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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.