OAKLAND — The best part of Bruce Bochy’s decision to let Madison Bumgarner hit in an American League Park on Thursday was the fact that Bochy, with a straight face, insisted that he asked Bumgarner if he actually wanted to do it.
Of course Bumgarner wanted to hit. This is a guy who strapped his elbow guard and batting gloves back on in the second inning when his turn in the order was still four batters away. Bumgarner might like to hit even more than he likes to pitch, and his night as his own DH turned out to be a resounding success.
Bumgarner’s first at-bat produced a double that ignited a six-run Giants rally. They cruised to a 12-6 win over the A’s behind their ace/DH, who gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings and finished 1-for-4 in place of the DH, with the double and a run.
Bumgarner became the first pitcher to intentionally start in an AL park and get a base hit since Ferguson Jenkins in 1974. He strolled to the plate in a scoreless game in the third and lashed a liner to center that ticked off Billy Burns’ glove for a double. The rest of the Giants lined up behind their ace, with the next five hitters reaching base.
Brandon Belt made it 2-0 with a bases-loaded double and Buster Posey followed with a three-run shot. Before Posey could even settle back into the dugout, Brandon Crawford lined a solo shot to right. The inning lasted so long that Bumgarner came up again, this time popping up.
It was downhill skiing from there, with the Giants avoiding a four-game sweep. They joined the Cubs and Rangers as the only 50-game winners in the Majors.
Starting pitching report: With Clayton Kershaw (back) shelved indefinitely, Bumgarner has a shot at starting the All-Star Game. He was bolstering his credentials until the Alonso homer, which shot his ERA from 2.05 to 2.20.
Bullpen report: Two nights after he had an outing he termed “really unacceptable,” Cory Gearrin pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two.
At the plate: Grant Green missed nine days at Triple-A after he got hit by a bat that flew into the dugout. Green needed four stitches on his knee, and before he could get back into Sacramento’s lineup, the Giants called him up. He had a single in his first big league at-bat since last August 31, and later doubled.
In the field: In the fourth inning, Ruben Tejada and Green turned a double play behind Bumgarner, just as we all saw coming in spring training.
Attendance: The A’s announced a crowd of 36,067 human beings. One of them won a scoreboard game and was given the gift of concession stand jalapeño poppers. The A’s are apparently trying to kill their own fans.
Up next: Johnny Cueto, who flew to Phoenix ahead of the team on Thursday night, faces the Diamondbacks.