Reyes Moronta saves Bumgarner, Giants with seventh-inning escape act


SAN FRANCISCO — As he stood on the mound in the seventh inning, the A’s already in business, Madison Bumgarner snuck a peek down at the home bullpen. Bumgarner never wants to come out of a game, and there are times in his career when he has seen a reliever warming and boiled a bit hotter inside. 

On Friday night, Bumgarner took a deep breath. He realized he had a safety net in Reyes Moronta, a rookie he already trusts. Bumgarner later told reporters that he knew he didn’t have to give in to Matt Olson or Matt Chapman, two powerful young hitters. He could keep working the corners instead of potentially leaving a game-changing pitch across the plate as his energy started to fade. Bumgarner walked both Matts. Moronta took care of the rest.

The 25-year-old right-hander got out of a bases loaded, no outs jam with the Giants holding a one-run lead in the seventh. They cruised to a 7-1 win over the A’s. 

“That’s an unbelievable job right there,” Bumgarner said. “That’s a tough spot to put someone in. I mean...he did as good a job as you could do in that situation. That’s a big momentum-changer. That was the game for us.”

Moronta was brought into a wicked jam after Bumgarner’s sharp command vanished. Stephen Piscotty led off the seventh with a single and Bumgarner walked Olson and Chapman before Bruce Bochy came out with the hook. It was an easy decision for several reasons, including the hitter on deck. Chad Pinder had homered off Bumgarner in the fifth inning. 

Moronta went 2-2 on Pinder and then buried him with an 82 mph slider down in the zone. 

“I worked on that (slider) all winter long,” Moronta said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “I trust it a lot. I saw it was working so I kept throwing it.”

The next batter, Jonathan Lucroy, hit a slider softly to third, and for a split-second it appeared Moronta was out of the inning. Pablo Sandoval made a diving stop and bounced toward third. Piscotty had broken for home and immediately broke back. The two laid out at the same time, with Piscotty getting back by an inch when Sandoval’s glove stuck in the dirt. The play was so close that the Giants paused to see if they should review it. 

Moronta simply bounced back to get pinch-hitter Nick Martini. The left-hander got a 97 mph fastball on the hands on a 2-0 count and grounded out harmlessly to short. Moronta pumped his fist and then bounced to the dugout, where Bumgarner was waiting with a hug. 

Moronta lowered his ERA to 1.76. He has not allowed a hit in his last 12 appearances. 

“It’s huge for us. You have a weapon like that,” Bochy said. “That sixth inning, that seventh, too, both just seem like huge innings when you need a guy to bail you out. You have a guy throwing 98 with a good breaking ball. He’s saved us so many times since he’s been here.”

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