First, there was toughness. Duggar drew a one-out walk in the ninth inning of a scoreless game but injured his left shoulder when he reached for second base after taking a wide turn on a single. Duggar felt his shoulder pop out on the tag but it popped back in as he rolled over. As Duggar sat in the dirt, the pain clear on his face, he pleaded with his manager.
"He was in pain. He said, ‘I'm staying in the game.' He kept saying that," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Eric (Ortega), our trainer, made him raise his arm, which he did. It showed the toughness of the kid."
Duggar was allowed to stay in, and Gorkys Hernandez made sure there were no decisions to be made about Duggar's ability to play center. Hernandez lined a single to left and Duggar raced home, giving the Giants a 1-0 win, their second straight shutout and fourth straight victory. That's when Duggar showed some savvy.
As 23 other Giants rushed Hernandez, Duggar stayed back, making sure he didn't take any more shots to a sore shoulder. Once the crowd cleared, he offered his congratulations.
"I'm pumped for Gork, man," he said after the win. "That was awesome. There was just this feeling in the dugout, I couldn't describe it, that we were going to win the game."
The feeling made sense given how many times Madison Bumgarner bowed his neck. He gave up four hits and walked four, but threw seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 2.08 in six August starts. Bumgarner left the bases loaded in the sixth and picked up a teammate in the seventh. Austin Slater's fielding error put a runner on third with one out, but Bumgarner got Paul Goldschmidt to pop out and ended the inning by retiring Eduardo Escobar.
Duggar said that gave a little extra juice to the dugout, and an inning after Bumgarner departed, he made sure the effort wasn't wasted. Nick Ahmed singled with one out in the eighth and tried to score when David Peralta hit a ball that looked like a sure double or triple in the gap. Duggar was shaded over towards left, but took off on a dead sprint as the ball left the bat, using knowledge acquired during batting practice.
The outfield is split into two sections because of a concert held during the road trip, and when Duggar took early fly balls the last five days, he noticed that balls that hit the new, discolored grass "checked up" on impact. Duggar felt that if he could get to Peralta's ball as it hit the new grass, he would stop it before it could roll to the wall.
"I knew that if I could get over there in the general area I could turn and hit Craw," he said. "It worked out."
Duggar cut the ball off, hit Brandon Crawford with a perfect throw, and watched as the shortstop cut Ahmed down at the plate. The play was one that few, if any, Giants center fielders over the past decade could have made so seamlessly. But it did not surprise the man who helped set the stage for Duggar's late heroics.
"I've gotten to play with him enough now where I start to expect that of him," Bumgarner said. "I definitely love having him out there. That's a big deal for us. Me, personally, I don't care if he ever gets a hit. I love him in center field, and anything else he does is a positive."