Bumgarner's double sparks six-run third inning for Giants
By Justin Wise
OAKLAND -- Bruce Bochy made it clear before the Giants' 12-6 victory over the A's on Thursday night that Madison Bumgarner hitting in spite of being at an American League ballpark wasn't just for "fun."
Bumgarner had established himself as a viable option at the plate, and he continued to prove that in a game in which the Giants avoided being swept by their Bay Area rivals.
The ace appeared to light the spark the offense needed, too, as his leadoff double in the top of the third primed what would become a six-run inning and a 14-hit performance from the team.
"A lot of people had a lot to say about what we did today," Bumgarner said. "I'm just glad it worked out for us."
A lot people were talking about it because it was the first time a Major League club since the Chicago White Sox in 1976 eschewed the opportunity to use a designated hitter with Ken Brett. The only other time it occurred was in 2009, when the Tampa Bay Rays forfeited the designated hitter due to submitting an incorrect lineup card, sending Andy Sonnanstine to hit.
In June 1988, Rick Rhoden was the DH for the Yankees on a day he wasn't pitching.
Bumgarner would finish his night at the plate 1-for-4 with one run and a strikeout. But, the one hit, a liner to center field that had 103-mph exit velocity, according to MLB Statcast™, served as the ignition for the Giants offense, according to Bochy.
His leadoff double to center field in the third prompted a rally from the Giants in which six runs crossed the plate before an out was recorded. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford punctuated the offensive surge with back-to-back home runs.
"Hitting can be contagious," said first baseman Brandon Belt, who hit a ground-rule double with the bases loaded in the same inning. "Figure the pitcher can do it, the rest of us can do it too. Whenever somebody leads off, gets a double like that, it kind of builds some momentum going into the next batters. And that's what you saw."
In addition, the scoring barrage in the third allowed Bumgarner to pitch with a sizable lead on a night in which he didn't have his best stuff. The four runs he allowed matched his season-high, and the two home runs mashed off the bats of A's batters Marcus Semien and Yonder Alonso made it three consecutive games in which he's allowed opposing teams to send a pitch of his over the fence.
"I just didn't make a lot of quality pitches," Bumgarner said. "And it cost me."
This time, Bumgarner could afford to make those mistakes. After getting a combined two runs of support in his last two appearances, Bumgarner got more than double that by the end of the third inning.
It wasn't the first time Bumgarner helped the Giants win with both his arm and bat. But, Thursday was significant given how long it's been since a manager elected to do what Bochy did.
"I'm glad I didn't make him look stupid," Bumgarner said. "It definitely had a lot to do with the shape the team is in. At the same time, it's a really cool experience."
Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.