SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Leake said when he took the mound against the Dodgers on Wednesday, "I had it in my mind: I’d like to do to them what they did to us last night."
"It semi-came true," he said.
Leake, the Giants right-hander, threw a two-hit shutout in a 5-0 Giants win to match the shutout hurled by Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday night. The catch, of course, was that Kershaw’s gem clinched the division for the Dodgers and eliminated the Giants from the playoffs. But Leake’s performance was not without significance.
Wednesday’s start was in all likelihood Leake’s last before he becomes a free agent this offseason, and he made it count by throwing his first career shutout in a breezy 104-pitch gem. It was a display of efficiency that showed why the Giants and others figure to covet the 27-year-old right-hander for 2016 -- and why, as manager Bruce Bochy said, Leake will "have some choices."
Afterward, Leake indicated he hopes to whittle down those choices sooner than later.
"I’d rather not wait," he said. "I’d like to pick a team and get ready to go with that team, instead of delaying the process."
That could bode well for the Giants, who have the advantage of having Leake in-house. Leake did not rule out the possibility of making a decision before he even hits the open market, and said he has enjoyed his time in San Francisco.
"It’s a strong possibility that this is a place I’d like to play," he said. "It’s just kind of wait and see, you never know what’s going to happen. Time will tell."
The Giants acquired Leake at the trade deadline with intentions of making a run at the division and getting an early start on wooing the right-hander, and they semi-came true. The Giants won just three of the nine starts Leake made for them, and they did not win the division. Wednesday night, though, was Leake at his best. He allowed two singles, walked three and ended most counts early by pounding the strike zone, recording 19 of his outs via ground ball.
"He’s brought what we were hoping," Bochy said. "He’s young (27), but yet he’s a veteran pitcher. He’s durable. He had one hiccup, the hamstring -- that was kind of a freak deal there. But he knows what he’s doing out there.
"He’s a pitcher. He studies the game, has a good game plan when he goes out there. He’s got four pitches to work with and when he locates he’s tough."
Leake finished his nine starts with the Giants with a 2-5 record and 4.07 ERA, the record partly a result of receiving one or fewer runs of support in five of his outings. He spent 18 days on the disabled list following his first Giants start because of a hamstring strain. And recently he had some forearm tightness that he said "played a factor" in his performance.
"I’m obviously a little disappointed that I didn’t come in here and do what either they expected me to do or what I expected to do for them," Leake said. "It’s a little frustrating as far as that. But it’s tough to make the playoffs, especially when you have injuries. I think this team did a pretty good job for what they were challenged with."
That’s one more thing the Giants may consider with Leake: What he could do over a full season with a healthy lineup behind him. Bochy was asked point-blank how bringing the right-hander back could help the Giants’ rotation in 2016.
"These are things we’ll discuss," Bochy said. "It’s obvious we like Mike a lot. We traded for him, and he’s done all we hoped for."
Leake said his outing on Wednesday was partly the result of having "a pretty clear mind today … I just felt loose, felt mentally there." His season over, Leake can now direct his thoughts to 2016, and which uniform he’d like to be wearing next spring.
"It depends what (the Giants) have to say to me in these next few days, or whenever they plan to start talking to me," Leake said. "And it also depends what my agent and family talk about. There’s a few factors that are going to be involved. We’ll see what happens."
* Leake had the benefit of an early lead thanks to Matt Duffy’s two-run homer in the first inning, and the Giants added on with a Kelby Tomlinson RBI double in the third, a homer by Nick Noonan in the seventh and an RBI single from Jarrett Parker in the eighth.
Noonan’s home run was the first of his career -- and it came within about a foot of being the Giants’ first Splash Hit this season and the 69th in AT&T Park history. It appeared a fan might have reached out and caught the ball, preventing it from landing in McCovey Cove.
Noonan, though, was just glad it cleared the wall. Two years ago, during his first call-up by the Giants, the infielder hit what he thought was a home run in Pittsburgh, only to see it overturned on replay. This time, he left no doubt.
"Not going to bring that one back," Noonan said, grinning.
Noonan did not play in the majors in 2014 and didn’t get called up this year until Sept. 1. So he waited a long time for another crack at his first major-league homer.
"A lot of relief, yeah," he said. "Finally get that one out of the way. It’s nice not having that goose egg up there anymore."
As the old adage goes, hit a home run, play the next day. Bochy said Noonan, who started at first base Wednesday night, will be in the lineup at shortstop Thursday with Brandon Crawford getting a day off.
* Two days ago, the Giants sent out an email release stating Duffy’s case for Rookie of the Year. Wednesday night, he collected three more hits to push his average back to .300. He has 12 home runs, 76 RBIs and his 42 multi-hit games lead all N.L. rookies.
Bochy said before the game he has no plans to rest Duffy the rest of the season, mostly because the Giants don’t really have anyone else to stick at third base. But it underscores how reliable Duffy has been that he should finish his rookie season having played in 117 consecutive games, the longest streak in the National League.
"It’s looking like his streak will run into next year," Bochy said.
A defining Duffy moment came in the eighth inning. After Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen buzzed him with a fastball under the chin, Duffy hit the next pitch back up the middle for a single. Then, on the first pitch to Brandon Crawford, Duffy stole second. The sequence was reminiscent of one earlier this year, when Duffy twisted his ankle diving back into first base against Chicago, the Cubs picked over on the next play, and Duffy stole second later in the at-bat.
* As covered pre-game, Marlon Byrd likely will not reach the 550 plate appearances he needs to vest a contract option for 2016. After the game, Byrd told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that Giants officials had talked to him about the option situation, and said of his thoughts on the matter: "I haven’t thought on it."
* The series finale Thursday has Tim Hudson making what should be his final start of a 17-season career. Bochy said Hudson will likely be on "short work," but it’ll be a chance for Hudson to go out once more in front of a home crowd. He’ll oppose Los Angeles left-hander Brett Anderson. First pitch at 12:45 p.m.