SAN FRANCISCO — Every baseball season provides a flood of unique and interesting facts, and the Giants seem to have more quirky games than most.
It might be hard to top this fact, though: When Jake Peavy hit a solo shot in the fourth inning on Wednesday, he became the fourth different Giants starter to hit a homer since Silver Slugger Madison Bumgarner hit his last one on August 21. It’s been an astounding month for the starting staff and a historic one. The Giants have tied a Major League record by getting homers from five different pitchers, and they’re the first team to do it since the 2002 Dodgers.
Peavy joined Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Hudson and Mike Leake in going deep. The latter three have all hit a homer since Bumgarner got his fifth, and the group — minus Vogelsong — makes up 80 percent of the current rotation. The fifth starter, Chris Heston, carries a bat in his hands half the time and was challenging Bumgarner for the pitcher batting average title in the first half. He can swing it, too, but he doesn't have that elusive homer.
“Chris Heston hated to see that homer more than anybody,” Peavy said, smiling.
The rookie will take some heat for being surpassed by veterans Peavy, Vogelsong and Hudson. But on Wednesday, much of the trash-talk was directed Peavy’s way. He lost track of the batting order after the top of the fourth — “I spent too much time in the American League,” he explained — and didn’t realize No. 8 hitter Ehire Adrianza was leading off. As Peavy scrambled to get ready, Adrianza grounded out on the first pitch. Peavy put his helmet on as he climbed the top step and rushed to the plate without batting gloves.
“I took a lot of grief in the dugout,” he said.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Peavy goes six, homers in Giants' win over Reds]
Some of it came from his manager, who was also in the dugout when Peavy twice homered for the Padres in 2006.
“I think I was more surprised by Peavy’s than anyone’s,” Bochy said of the power surge. “He tried to get his batting gloves on and said the heck with it and went up there and hit it well. At his age, you’d think he doesn’t have that pop to get one out, but he found a way.”
Peavy’s third career bomb came on a two-strike fastball from Collin Balester. It was the fourth in 13 games for Giants starters and gave them nine of the 24 pitcher homers (38 percent) in the big leagues this season.
Most of the damage has come since the All-Star break. Here’s how the group stacks up in the second half against some notable sluggers …
Brandon Belt (team leader): 9
Giants starting pitchers: 7
Paul Goldschmidt: 7
Troy Tulowitzki: 7
Prince Fielder: 5
Joc Pederson: 5
Buster Posey: 4
Freddie Freeman: 4
Pablo Sandoval: 3
Peavy said the homer “felt good” and credited the staff for working hard between starts. He didn’t totally get to enjoy the fruits of that labor, however. Peavy is legally blind and needs contacts to take the field. When did he know he had homered?
“When I got past second and saw the umpire waving his finger,” he said. “I certainly didn’t see it go out.”
Peavy needs black spray paint and neon stickers to see Posey’s signs, but the two have found a way to work well together. In his biggest spot, Peavy was joined on the mound by Posey and Bochy, who came to check on him with two runners in scoring position and two down in the sixth.
“I felt good at that point about the matchup we had,” Peavy said.
Bochy has known Peavy since he was a fireballing rookie, so he listened to what he said during that meeting.
“I thought he had enough in the tank to get that last guy,” he said.
Peavy proved him right, getting a popup and screaming as the ball went into the air. He came back an inning later but didn’t record an out, allowing two doubles.
“We talked before he went out that next inning and he convinced me he felt great,” Bochy said, smiling. “Of course, two batters later I found out he lied to me.”
Thanks in part to Peavy’s homer, that competitive streak didn’t end up costing the Giants.
--- Hunter Strickland buckled down like Peavy did, getting three big outs with the bases loaded in the eighth. This came a night after Strickland had a mini-meltdown, and he said Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti met with him separately on Wednesday. Bochy was proud that Strickland “had a short memory.”
One thing Bochy has always done really well is get young players back on the horse, and Strickland said that played a part in his success tonight.
“That’s huge,” he said. “It’s an honor to be in that situation and him having that confidence in me. It boost my confidence that much more.”
--- Speaking of confidence … Ehire Adrianza. He’s been a different player on this homestand, reaching base in 12 of 25 plate appearances and driving in six runs. The last RBI tonight was a big one, and came on a well-struck triple.
“The kid has been playing well,” Bochy said. “He’s got his confidence back. He went through a tough stretch there, so it’s good to see he’s getting his confidence back.”
Right when Adrianza is finding his rhythm, he’s probably going to go back to the bench. Brandon Crawford should be back in the starting lineup on Friday.
--- Posey reached 90 RBI for the second time. He’s the first Giants catcher to reach that mark twice in his career.
--- If you missed it earlier, today was newsy: Here's Tim Hudson hoping that he gets to face Barry Zito in Oakland later this month. Here's Dave Groeschner on the injury that ended Joe Panik's season. Here's my story on the Giants calling up Mac Williamson and Trevor Brown. And here's my new Facebook page. You should help me get more likes than Ratto.