There was at least one more rendition of “Fire on the Mountain” Thursday night as ace Madison Bumgarner climbed his own mountain at Oracle Park.
The ace fired his first nine-inning performance since July 10, 2016, amid the team’s hottest streak of the season.
But it required an additional seven innings to declare a winner as the San Francisco and New York bullpens took turns putting up goose eggs. Finally, in the 16th frame, the Giants (48-49) responded to a Pete Alonso solo homer (32) off Williams Jerez (W, 1-0, 3.00 ERA) with a walk-off rally sparked by offensive lightning rod of the summer, Alex Dickerson, and finished by utility man Donovan Solano to give San Francisco its 13th win in 15 games, 3-2, over the Mets (44-52).
Before a parade of relievers and pinch-hitting starters, Bumgarner (ND 5-7, 3.65 ERA) offered up his strongest performance in years, just under two weeks ahead of the trade deadline, going toe-to-toe with Noah Syndergaard (ND, 7-4, 4.36 ERA) allowing one run on five hits while striking out five.
Just about every five days for the last couple months Giants manager Bruce Bochy has faced the same line of questioning with regard to Bumgarner’s trade chip status: How do you feel knowing this could be his last start in a Giants uniform? Do you feel sentimental every time he gets on the mound this season?
And every time Bochy follows the script he repeated again by rote ahead of Thursday’s contest:
“I don’t know — who knows what’s gonna happen? I’m not at the point [of feeling sentimental] because I have no reason to think that this is going to be a different team. It could be, but those aren’t my decisions. … Madison’s with us, and that’s how I look at it now.”
Bumgarner, for one, is sick to death of the questions and he made that clear in no uncertain terms:
“I don’t give a shit [about trade talks], I’m here to win game for this team. And that’s what we’re doing. … I’m trying to win games for the Giants, and we’re trying to get in the postseason. We’re making a push — we’re coming.”
And so Thursday, “Bum” put on a hat with an SF insignia and he and the Giants put all the trade talk aside.
Seven of the 31 batters Bumgarner faced required only one pitch, and six of those batters made outs. It was this kind of economical pitching that allowed him to pitch his first nine-inning game in three years. But facing “Thor” of the New York Metropolitans, the Giants could not convert nine innings into a complete game. The last pitcher faced with such disappointment was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Matt Cain.
Other than the one run he allowed in the first, Bumgarner was stunning.
He gave up a booming leadoff double to Jeff McNeil that was off the wall in left-center, followed by a grounder from J.D. Davis that rocketed under a diving Brandon Crawford‘s glove into left field with an exit velocity of 109.3-mph. Alonso grounded into a double-play, which was enough to plate McNeil.
But MadBum pitched eight shutout innings to follow keeping the Mets off-balance throughout.
A crowd of 36,632 gave Bumgarner a standing ovation when he came to bat against Syndergaard with one out in seventh and runners on first and third. The anticipation grew with each of the seven pitches Bumgarner drew. But after the Giants ace fouled off a 99-mph sinker, Syndergaard whiffed him on an 89-mph slider.
Nevertheless, the fans showed their adoration for the franchise staple who led the team to three championships, and Bumgarner appreciated it:
“It means a lot. You know, we been through a lot here and I’ve been here for a long time and it’s special.”
Despite his dominance Bumgarner, in his characteristically understated manner, said he did not rank Thursday’s performance as his best, though he conceded that it was one of the best outcomes.
He said at 94 pitches he argued with Bochy to go back out for the tenth inning, but the manager shut it down. Asked what the conversation was like between him and Bochy after the ninth, Bumgarner said:
“I didn’t try to make it much of a conversation, but he wasn’t having it. You know usually I can, if I really want to, get my way with him, but he wasn’t having it today.”
The Giants struggled to break through against the Mets ace. Going into the homestand, San Francisco had been on a five-game winning streak, largely on the back of an explosive offense, but Thursday it was absent — at least early on.
San Francisco tied it up in the fourth after three singles loaded the bases and Kevin Pillar hit a liner to left. It hung long enough for J.D. Davis to swoop in and make the catch. But it was enough to plate one run.
It would be the last run either club would score for 12 innings.
As the innings stretched on the crowd got restless. The stands out in right field began to rumble with the stomping feet of bleachers faithful. The seagulls circled. The hecklers became more audible as the audience thinned.
But finally, spurred by Alonso’s big fly, the Giants came up swinging against rookie right-hander Chris Mazza (L, 0-1, 5.19 ERA) in the bottom of the 16th with Dickerson’s leadoff double. Crawford kept the line moving with a double of his own to knot it back up at 2-2.
But the Giants had no interest in a 17th, Bochy said:
“It’s good thing we ended that game because we definitely were running out of pitchers on both sides.”
The utility infielder said he was glad to contribute. Through translator Erwin Higueros, Solano said:
“It was exciting, it was great. It was finally worth it to see that after putting all that effort we were able to come come in with the win.”
In the aftermath of the Giants sixth straight win, their longest such stretch since June 26 to July 2 of 2017, Bumgarner was vocal about being invested in his team and their mission to make it back to October. He said:
“We got to be able to win all sorts of games, and we got the team that can do it. Our first half was not up to our expectations and then we flipped the switch. …We’ve got a lot of veterans, a lot of guys that’ve been there before. If we manage to keep this going and sneak in, I don’t think anybody’s gonna want to match up against us.”
Bochy said he stayed away from both Sam Dyson and Mark Melancon in Thursday’s marathon to give them rest. … Travis Bergen (left shoulder) was transferred to the 60-day injured list Thursday and the Giants added right-hander Jandel Guustave to the 40-man roster, optioning him to triple-A.