SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy has said in recent days that the “pitcher hitting eighth” experiment will be altered, with certain pitchers going back to their usual ninth spot. Bochy does like Angel Pagan hitting ninth when it makes sense, though, and with Madison Bumgarner on the mound it certainly makes sense.
The slugging pitcher had a rare night at the plate, striking out three times. But he also struck out nine Padres and Pagan stayed hot in his new spot, notching three hits, as the Giants held on for a tight 5-4 win at AT&T Park. Bumgarner allowed just two runs, picking up his second win of the year, and Bruce Bochy worked around land mines by using five relievers to get the final seven outs. Santiago Casilla got four of them.
Bumgarner has a streak of four consecutive starts against the Padres with at least nine strikeouts. He didn’t get any in the first, but struck out two in the second as he settled in. A bad break cost Bumgarner a run in the third, when Jemile Weeks reached on a pop-up to right that Hunter Pence lost in the lights; he scored two batters later on Jon Jay’s single.
The Giants led 1-0 at that point thanks to Pagan’s RBI single, and Pence gave Bumgarner a lead with a lined shot over the left field fence in the fourth. Pagan had an RBI double later in the inning and Pence made it 4-1 with a sac fly in the fifth.
Bumgarner gave up a second run in the sixth but got the Giants through 6 2/3 with the lead. That was padded by Buster Posey’s solo shot, but the Padres kept clawing back. The Giants sent four pitchers to the mound in a 29-minute top of the eighth, giving two runs back before Casilla entered and got an inning-ending strikeout. He cruised through the ninth, earning his 100th career save.
Starting pitching report: Bumgarner finished the night with 38 strikeouts in five starts, putting him in a tie for second in the majors. Chris Archer has 39 and Noah Syndergaard has 38 (he has only made four starts).
Bullpen report: Bochy used three young pitchers and Casilla to get through the top of the eighth. Hunter Strickland was charged with multiple runs for the second time in his last five appearances.
At the plate: Bumgarner hasn’t seen many fastballs since taking Clayton Kershaw deep for a second time. Drew Pomeranz opened up with five straight curveballs in the second inning before finally going to his fastball a couple times for a strikeout. In their second matchup, Bumgarner saw a first-pitch fastball before getting four straight curveballs and striking out. Luis Perdomo did throw Bumgarner mostly fastballs, but he has a 94 mph sinker, so it’s a little easier to avoid trouble.
In the field: Denard Span is starting to look very comfortable out in center field here at AT&T Park. Span went to the wall in the third and made a leaping grab to rob Matt Kemp of at least an RBI double.
Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,266 human beings and announced their 420th consecutive sellout.
Up next: Two former Royals take the mound in Game 2 of this series. It’s Johnny Cueto (3-1, 3.49) vs. James Shields (0-3, 4.15).