Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner became the first major league battery to hit grand slams in the same game on Sunday. They did so in consecutive innings as the Giants beat the Diamondbacks 8-4 on the final day of play before the All-Star break. For both players, the grand slam was the second of their career, and for starting pitcher Bumgarner, who was the first man to score on Posey’s slam having doubled earlier in the inning, it was his second of the season.
With that, Bumgarner becomes just the second pitcher in the last 100 years to hit two grand slams in the same season, joining the Braves’ Tony Cloninger, who hit two in the same game against the Giants on July 3, 1966. He's the eighth pitcher since 1914 to have two grand slams in his entire career with the most recent being Denny Neagle of the Pirates and Rockies, who hit his grand slams in 1995 and 2001.
Posey’s slam came with the Giants down 1-0 and two outs in the bottom of the fifth, and it couldn’t have been set up by much less expected circumstances. The men to reach ahead of him were Bumgarner on a double, Hunter Pence on a hit-by-pitch, and Pablo Sandoval on an infield single. Posey took ball one from Arizona starter Vidal Nuño, then went down to get a 90 mile per hour fastball around the knees and hit it out 419 feet to left field. Posey’s only other career grand slam came back in July 2010 in Miller Park off then-Brewer Chris Capuano.
Matt Stites replaced Nuño to start the sixth inning, but the Giants again loaded the bases under unusual circumstances, with Joaquin Arias singling and moving to second on an error by center fielder Ender Inciarte, Ehire Adrianza reaching on an error by shortstop Nick Ahmed and Brandon Crawford working an eight-pitch walk. Bumgarner came up and hit the first pitch he saw, a 98 mph fastball right down the pike, just over the cartoon cars on the left field wall to make it 8-1 Giants.
Bumgarner gave up three runs to the Diamondbacks in the top of the seventh, getting pulled from the game before he could get the second out of the inning, but he had already secured the Giants’ victory with six strong innings on the mound and two big swings of the bat.
A noteworthy home run hitter in batting practice, Bumgarner claimed a week ago to have lobbied National League Home Run Derby captain Troy Tulowitzki to include him in this year’s Derby. One factor in his favor appeared to be that three of his four career home runs prior to Sunday night came against the Rockies.
Indeed, Bumgarner’s previous grand slam came off Tulowitzki’s Rockies teammate Jorge De La Rosa on April 11 in San Francisco. Tulowitzki didn’t bite, but it’s worth noting that, although the grand slams are his only two home runs on the year, Bumgarner is now hitting .275/.302/.550 on the season. That’s in a mere 47 plate appearances, but if you throw out any minimum requirement, his .852 OPS is the best on the Giants and 14 points higher than that of Justin Morneau, Tulowitzki’s Rockies teammate, who got that final Derby spot instead of Bumgarner.