Locked in a full count with Madison Bumgarner in the third inning Saturday, A’s right-hander Chris Bassitt threw a 90-mph sinker that ran down and in to the right-handed-hitting Giants pitcher.
Bumgarner fouled it off his knee. On his next offering, the rookie Bassitt came back with the same pitch in a similar location. Bumgarner hit it into the left-field bleachers.
“Just tried to stay inside it a little more,” Bumgarner said, “and was able to make an adjustment and hit it pretty good.”
Normally, when pitchers talk about making an in-game adjustment, it involves throwing mechanics. With Bumgarner, it’s just as plausible to occur in the batter’s box. Bumgarner’s homer was his third of the season and ninth of his career, and it matched the output of the A’s lineup against him over seven innings as the Giants edged their Bay Area counterparts 2-1 for their 10th win in 11 games.
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Third baseman Matt Duffy drove in the decisive run with a two-out single off Bassitt in the sixth. But afterward, Duffy could only smile when asked what it’s like watching the hitting exploits of Bumgarner, the reigning Silver Slugger Award winner who is 11 for 43 (.256) with three homers and five RBIs this season.
“He makes it look so easy,” Duffy said. “We’re talking about it on the bench – he barely takes batting practice, and it’s just like, ‘Go away. We don’t even want you here.’”
Duffy quickly added he was joking about the last part. He said the Giants’ hitters aren’t exactly jealous over Bumgarner’s home run rate “but definitely a little envious.”
“I think Buster (Posey) was like, ‘Man, I haven’t hit a homer in 12 days,’” Duffy said. “And I said, ‘I haven’t had a homer in July.’”
Bumgarner takes pride in his hitting, but Saturday, he said he was happier about getting through the seventh on the mound despite running up his pitch count early. The A’s went through their order twice in four innings. But Bumgarner limited the damage to an RBI double by Josh Phegley in the fourth and retired 12 of his final 13 hitters, departing after 101 pitches.
“At minimum I want to go six, and obviously, I want to go deeper,” Bumgarner said. “Today wasn’t looking real good early, but we were able to get some quick outs and make some pitches. So yeah, it’s definitely more satisfying (than the home run).”
Manager Bruce Bochy said before the game he thought traveling for the All-Star Game in Cincinnati might have affected Bumgarner in his first start after the break, in which the left-hander lasted just five innings in a 2-1 win at Arizona. Bumgarner had an extra day of rest before Saturday’s start, though, and Bochy said he “felt comfortable” sending out Bumgarner for the seventh.
That and Duffy’s go-ahead hit in the sixth allowed Bochy to use setup man Sergio Romo for a scoreless eighth and turn over the ninth to closer Santiago Casilla, who allowed two men on with two outs but got Marcus Semien to chase a low slider for strike three to end the game.
Duffy, who has thrived in the last month since moving to third in the Giants’ order, drove in the team’s 190th two-out run, which leads the majors. Asked why the Giants have come through so often with two outs, Duffy credited hitters with grinding out at-bats and not tailoring their approach to the situation.
“Also, it helps that we feel like we’re pretty deep as a lineup,” Duffy said. “It makes it tough on a pitcher anytime you can put up one through eight.
“Or nine,” he added, “when Bum is pitching.”