MILWAUKEE — Madison Bumgarner fought his mechanics all spring, and he battled the flu over the weekend. It was hard to tell which one was more responsible for Bumgarner’s lack of command on Opening Day, but either way, the Giants found an easy path to a win.
Bumgarner’s day was five-and-dive, but the deep Giants lineup gave him a big early lead and then put the hammer down late, thrashing the Brewers 12-3. Matt Duffy drove in four runs in the first five innings as the Giants scored in four consecutive frames, and Denard Span, Joe Panik and Buster Posey went back-to-back-to-back in the top of the eighth. The trio became the first Giants to hit three straight since 2006.
Bumgarner got off to a rocky start, walking three of the first five Brewers he faced and walking in a run for just the second time in his career. He righted the ship by getting a double-play grounder to end the first, but Scooter Gennett led off the second with a solo blast to the second deck in right.
The homer made it clear that Bumgarner was having an off day. It was Gennett’s first against a left-handed pitcher; Bumgarner allowed just two homers to left-handed batters last season, and Gennett isn’t exactly in the same category as the two guys — Bryce Harper and Joc Pederson — who pulled it off.
Bumgarner’s command continued to fail him in the third, when he gave up another solo homer. Buster Posey helped him out of that jam by throwing Chris Carter out at second, and Angel Pagan ended the fourth by throwing Gennett out at home.
With a win in sight, Bumgarner finally zoned in. He struck out the side in the fifth, going through the Brewers’ two-through-four hitters. The rest of this one was a laugher.
The Giants scored five in the eighth, the big blow being Span’s three-run bomb. It had been 14 years since the Giants had a player (Barry Bonds) drive in at least four runs on Opening Day, but Duffy and Span both did it Monday.
Starting pitching report: Bumgarner has three straight Opening Day starts and two of them have been far shorter than he would have liked. He pitched seven strong innings on Opening Day last year, but lasted just four in Arizona in 2014. The good news? The last time Bumgarner had a short debut the Giants won the World Series.
Bullpen report: Cory Gearrin, who has the best pitch-face, worked a clean seventh. He could be a big part of what the Giants do in the late innings this season.
At the plate: This was the first Opening Day game in MLB history with two pitchers hitting eighth, and it worked out early for the Giants, who wanted Pagan serving as a “second leadoff hitter.” Pagan walked to lead off the third, stole second, and easily scored on Denard Span’s single to center. He hit a double in the fourth to help spur another rally. Pagan flied out to left in the eighth, but that rally still started when the No. 7 hitter (Brandon Crawford) and No. 8 hitter (Gregor Blanco pinch-hitter) reached base.
In the field: Opposing teams are going to run on Giants outfielders, and Gennett tested Span and Pagan in the fourth inning. He tagged up from first and safely reached second on a deep fly ball to center, but when Domingo Santana followed with a hard single to left, Pagan threw Gennett out on a four-hopper to the plate. That throw won’t keep anyone from running on him, but hey, it got the out.
Attendance: The Brewers announced a crowd of 44,318, a sellout. The crowd gave the home side a sarcastic round of applause after the long top of the eighth.
Up next: Johnny Cueto makes his Giants debut on Tuesday night, which happens to be primary night in Wisconsin. Right-hander Jimmy Nelson toes the rubber for the Brewers.