Madison Bumgarner was unbeaten in five career starts against the New York Mets, his 1.03 ERA the lowest against any team he’d faced multiple times. The Mets’ Jacob deGrom had won all three of his starts against the Giants, with a microscopic ERA of 0.84.
So, naturally, what was supposed to be a pitching duel at AT&T Park on Thursday night morphed into a full-fledged slugfest. Bumgarner allowed a grand slam then hit a home run of his own in the same inning, the Giants dealt deGrom the worst outing of his major league career, and their 17-hit barrage resulted in a wild and much-needed 10-7 win.
“I don’t think that’s how either of us had it drawn up,” Bumgarner said. “But we’ll take it for sure. It’s not about throwing shutouts. It’s about winning games, and that’s what we did today.”
With the Dodgers losing, the Giants gained a full game in the N.L. West and are a half-game out of first place again. Coming off a three-game sweep by the Pittsburg Pirates, they fell behind 4-0 but rallied against deGrom, who had the fourth-lowest ERA in the National League.
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Bumgarner entered with the second-lowest, but the two starters combined to allow nine runs in the fourth inning. Bumgarner walked consecutive hitters to load the bases for Justin Ruggiano, who hammered a full-count pitch over the center-field wall for just the third grand slam Bumgarner has allowed in his career.
The Giants answered quickly, starting their half with four consecutive hits, including an RBI single from Hunter Pence and two-run triple by Eduardo Nunez. Two batters later, Bumgarner hit a 2-2 pitch over the left-field wall for his third home run of the season to put the Giants ahead 5-4.
“We took a pretty good punch there,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “But what I thought was important, we came back and punched back.”
According to Elias, Bumgarner is the first pitcher since 1957 to allow a grand slam and hit a home run in the same inning.
“I’d rather not be part of that stat line,” Bumgarner deadpanned.
ESPN tweeted that Bumgarner is also one of three players with home runs off of deGrom, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The others: Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Gonzalez.
“He’s got a pretty good resume,” Bochy said.
In his first at-bat against deGrom, Bumgarner had yanked a pitch home-run distance but foul down the left-field line before lining out to center field.
“I don’t know if anybody’s ever going to say they’re comfortable against Jake,” said Bumgarner. “But for whatever reason, I was seeing the ball a little better today.”
In the fourth, Bumgarner fell behind 0-2 and fouled off two pitches before homering on the seventh pitch of the at-bat. According to baseball-reference.com, before Thursday, hitters who fell behind deGrom 0-2 this season were 15-for-103 with no home runs and 46 strikeouts.
“That’s impressive, man,” said center fielder Denard Span. “I’ve never played with any pitcher that has the ability to do what he can with the bat. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Maybe we should bunt here.’ But then I think about it and I’m like, ‘Nah, this guy can change the game with his swing as well.’ ”
That opened the floodgates against deGrom, who allowed three more runs in the fifth on a single by Nunez and two-run double from Joe Panik. The Giants’ eight runs and 13 hits off deGrom were both career-highs for the right-hander, who in his previous three starts against the Giants had allowed eight hits in 21 1/3 innings.
“He still made good pitches,” Span said. “But we made better swings.”
Leading 8-4, Bochy let Bumgarner hit in the bottom of the fifth – he struck out – but did not send him back out to pitch the sixth. The five innings matched Bumgarner’s shortest outing this season, and he needed 38 pitches to get through the fourth, finishing with 89.
“He wasn’t quite as sharp, and he’ll tell you that,” Bochy said. “That 38-pitch inning, I know that had to take a toll on him. And I’ve got to take care of him. He’s a guy that’s so consistently gotten us deep in the game. That’s a pretty good workload for five innings.”
Bochy still had to wait a while to feel secure. The Mets scored three times in the sixth against relievers Cory Gearrin, just activated from the disabled list, and Will Smith, who has struggled since arriving from Milwaukee. Derek Law, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo got the Giants through the eighth with the lead, with Law stranding the bases loaded in the seventh.
Lopez got the first out of the eighth and Romo came in to strike out Jose Reyes and T.J. Rivera. Over his last five outings, Romo has recorded his last 11 outs via strikeout.
“He looked good, didn’t he?” Bochy said of Romo. “He’s really locating well right now.”
Given the Giants’ penchant for close losses since the All-Star Break, Buster Posey’s two-out, two-run double in the ninth provided insurance and a chance to exhale a little. Bochy was shown by TV cameras in the dugout with a wide grin as Conor Gillaspie and Angel Pagan, who extended his hitting streak to 16 games, crossed the plate.
Santiago Casilla worked the ninth for his 28th save.
“There’s no question tonight was a good win,” Span said. “Down four-zip, we could’ve easily just folded our tents in and said, you know, get ’em tomorrow, or times are rough and we’re just going to go ahead and hang our heads. But we collectively came together tonight. And tonight was definitely a big win.”