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Joey Bart keeps rolling as Giants get to Bumgarner in win

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

With no out and one on in the third inning, Joey Bart squared up against Madison Bumgarner. 

Earlier this year, after his first bunt single found grass between the pitcher’s mound and third base, Bart said “I don’t know how to bunt.” The catcher, built more like a linebacker than Ichiro Suzuki, said he never bunted in the minors. Maybe once in college, he thinks.

But in the third, Bart dribbled Bumgarner’s first pitch down the third-base line, over the chalk all the way to the bag. Everything, even bunting, is clicking for the rookie. 

In the Giants’ 6-1 win over Arizona, Bart extended his hitting streak to a career-high seven games by going 3-for-4 with a run and two RBI. Evan Longoria also lifted his 10th home run of the year in San Francisco’s fourth consecutive victory. 

Bumgarner’s third start in Oracle Park since joining the Diamondbacks ended with a standing ovation after six earned runs in 5.2 innings.

The Giants (58-57) woke up Monday knowing they needed an efficient Alex Cobb start. Camilo Doval had pitched in each of SF’s three weekend games. John Brebbia, who has led MLB in appearances for most of the year, is wearing down in his first full season post-Tommy John surgery. 

And those are just San Francisco’s best relievers. A hit to the bullpen’s depth strains everyone else further. Zack Littell is nearing a return from an oblique strain, José Álvarez has been rehabbing an elbow injury for a month and Sam Long is getting stretched out to become a starter at Triple-A. Jake McGee, expected to contribute preseason, is on his third team of 2022.

At first, it looked like Cobb misunderstood the assignment. He needed 63 pitches to cover three innings, walking three Diamondbacks. But he stranded the bases loaded with a backwards strikeout in the first and left two more on with another in the third. 

Arizona remained scoreless, and just as Cobb settled in for a clean nine-pitch fourth, the offense heated up against Bumgarner. 

Before the fourth, San Francisco mustered just a walk and infield against the three-time World Series champion. But then J.D. Davis torched a cutter 112.7 mph into the left-center gap. Evan Longoria sent Bumgarner’s very next pitch into the bleachers. 

Bart’s early bunt single didn’t result in a run, but his fifth-inning double high off the right-field bricks did. Then in the sixth, he gave SF a 6-1 lead by driving in two with a 111.7 mph single to deep left. Even playing on a sprained ankle, Bart is mashing.

The catcher has recorded multiple hits in five of the seven games in his ongoing hitting streak. In 28 games since his reset in Triple-A, he’s raised his average from .156 to .234. Five of his nine homers have come in the second half. His alarming strikeout rate has stabilized and the barrels have come in bunches. He impressed the front office so much, they traded away his backup. 

Even when he wasn’t hitting, the Giants praised Bart’s game-calling prowess. He was on the receiving end as Cobb hunkered down for six innings, the only run coming on a Christian Walker solo home run. 

After Cobb, the taxed bullpen did its job. Tyler Rogers left Alex Young with the bases loaded, but the lefty specialist struck out Josh Rojas. Dominic Leone erased a leadoff walk in the eighth, and Jarlin García worked a perfect ninth. 

Bart was there, in the squat, for all of it. Even if the playoffs are out of reach, his development over the last 49 games is worthy of attention.

 

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