The Braves left town 10 days ago after rookie Julio Teheran flirted with a no-hitter, and they returned home Friday night to get a little of the same from Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Talk about your reversal of fortunes.
The buzz that San Francisco’s rotation isn’t all it’s normally cracked up to be is news to the Braves, who didn’t get a hit off Bumgarner until the sixth inning of a 6-0 loss.
Chris Johnson blooped a single into no-man’s land in right center field to lead off the sixth inning for only the second Braves baserunner of the night.
Freddie Freeman singled softly to left field in the seventh inning for the only other hit off Bumgarner, who struck out 10 and walked one in seven scoreless innings. The Braves lost their fourth in a row while taking their ninth shutout of the season, which is tied with the Marlins for the most in the majors.
The Braves struck out 12 times in all, twice as many times as the Giants. That fits with the nature of both teams. The Braves are second in the majors to only the Astros in strikeouts (596), while the Giants have struck out the fewest of any team in the majors (396). Five of the nine hits the Giants recorded off Kris Medlen came with two strikes.
“When you put the ball in play, funny things happen,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, almost wistfully.
In two starts against the Braves this season, Bumgarner has struck out 21 of the 50 batters he faced.
“He’s been painting the corners, both sides, with all his pitches,” said Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who went 1-for-4 with an infield hit off Sandy Rosario in the ninth, only the third Braves’ hit.
Turner Field has been the Braves refuge, and they were counting on it again Friday night after another rough road trip to California, but the Giants brought a little West Coast to Atlanta. The Giants got a leadoff home run from former Brave Gregor Blanco and three doubles from Leesburg native Buster Posey to pace their 11-hit attack.
The Braves, who entered with the best home winning percentage in the majors, lost for only the eighth time in 29 home games. They have lost four of five to the Giants this season, including three of four in San Francisco.
Four pitches into the game Blanco had his first career leadoff home run and first home run of the season. The last time he homered came on his previous trip to Turner Field – July 18 of last year, 313 at-bats earlier. He is hitting .344 (11-for-32) with three doubles, one triple, two home runs and 12 RBIs in 11 games against his former team.
Posey had two doubles against Medlen to extend his hitting streak against the Braves to 12 games, hitting .417 (20-for-48) in that span. Both of his doubles off Medlen came with two strikes.
“I felt like some of the (five two-strike) hits were off the plate, some pretty good pitches,” Medlen said. “Posey’s first one (was a) two-seamer down and in, on the corner, double to left. Fastball off the plate away next at-bat - double to right. He’s an extremely good hitter and they’ve got some pesky guys up there. (Brandon) Crawford fought off a pitch at his shoulders for a base hit.”
The Giants added one run each off Medlen in the second and third innings, first after Jason Heyward stumbled trying to get to a Joaquin Arias double to right and the second after B.J. Upton charged a Hunter Pence double that scooted under his glove in center field.
Medlen was charged with four runs on nine hits in six innings to fall to 3-7 this season despite a 3.09 ERA.
“Just frustrating,” Medlen said. “Obviously you’re not going to get guys out every single time, but you feel like your percentages are better when you make your pitches. And I went back and looked (at video) and I felt like I made good pitches. They don’t strike out. They put the ball in play and they found some holes. Plus we have a guy throwing a no-hitter on the other side too. So obviously got to give him some credit for shutting us down.”
Bumgarner set down the first 14 batters he faced until B.J Upton drew a walk with two outs in the fifth inning. Upton was stranded after stealing second base. Both Brian McCann and Dan Uggla had words for homeplate umpire Gary Darling after striking out in the fifth inning but to little avail.
“(Bumgarner’s) deceptive,” Medlen said. “He’s coming out of the crowd. I hear the guys talking about all the time - he’s on the left side of the rubber and he’s got that really low angle, so it’s tough to see.”