SAN FRANCISCO — The four-run top of the second inning on Friday included seven batted balls, none of which left the bat at more than 89 mph. There was an error and a missed opportunity on a grounder by the pitcher, in addition to a bloop double and an infield hit. As far as four-run innings go, that was a weird one.
“You’re tellin’ me,” Madison Bumgarner said later. “Seventeen broken-bat bloopers … it’s frustrating when it happens.”
In the dugout, it had to feel like Thursday night all over again. The Giants had misplays on their way to a 13-run fifth while losing the series opener, but Bumgarner stopped the bleeding at four runs a night later and didn’t allow another.
The Giants won 6-4, inching back into first place in the National League West. Bumgarner said the previous night’s loss was embarrassing. He took pride in making sure it didn’t happen again.
“That’s who I am and who I want to be,” he said. “I’m never going to go out there and give in and say it’s not my day today.”
Bruce Bochy has a different way of putting it. There’s a phrase he uses often with his ace.
“He bowed his neck,” Bochy said.
That allowed Brandon Crawford’s three-run blast to cut the lead to one. The Giants would tie the game three innings later and then go ahead. It was a breeze to the finish line from there, with Cory Gearrin providing two big outs when Bumgarner departed in the eighth.
“When you’re missing a couple of pieces (in Sergio Romo and George Kontos) you need somebody to step up and Cory has done that,” Bochy said. “Watching him in spring training, you knew he was going to be on this club with the way he was throwing the ball. He has great stuff and he wants to be out there. He’s the type of guy who wants to be out there against those tough guys.”
Bumgarner is the epitome of that type of guy, but he didn’t fight it when Bochy called for Gearrin. “I’m never going to be mad when you’ve got guys like Cory Gearrin behind me,” Bumgarner said. “He’s nasty.”
Gearrin and Santiago Casilla clinched Bumgarner’s fourth win. When it was over, Bumgarner said he isn’t a big numbers guy, but his ears perked up a bit when he was told he now leads the Majors with 55 strikeouts.
Ten of them came Friday, which seemed to be a sign that an early-season mechanical slump is a thing of the past …
“It might look that way,” Bumgarner said, smiling. “(But) I’m a perfectionist, so it wasn’t exactly how I wanted. But when you’re out there, sometimes you’ve got to throw that aside and compete.”
--- Brandon Belt drove in an insurance run and walked twice. He’s reached base safely in 14 straight games.
--- Kontos said he felt great after throwing a simulated game Friday afternoon. He will join Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday. Bochy again reiterated that he’ll need to see Kontos go back-to-back and pitch multiple innings before getting called up, but that won’t take long.
--- If you missed it earlier, this afternoon was all about Tim Lincecum. Here’s my story, with quotes from Lincecum and rumors that came out of the showcase. And here’s the full showcase in video form if you miss No. 55.
—- The Giants have long had a victory soundtrack. Now they also have a victory tradition. Crawford on his homer that came up just short of the water: "If we had a decent strength coach, I might be able to hit one in the water. ... But we've got Carl."