AT&T PARK — As Steven Duggar dove back into second base — the consequence of taking a wide turn on a ninth-inning single by Nick Hundley — he felt his left shoulder pop out of its socket. The tag by second baseman Ketel Marte displaced the joint, and as the San Francisco Giants rookie center fielder rolled over, he felt it snap back into place.
“When I felt it came out, I couldn’t feel like I could move,” said Duggar, the Giants’ No. 3 prospect headed into this season. “When I started to roll over, it went back in, and when I was sitting there, I started moving it around, and it felt alright. I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m coming out of this game.'”
After hitting the decisive home run on Monday, and cutting a ball off in center for a game-saving throw in the eighth inning on Tuesday, Duggar said he wouldn’t have come out, even if it were the third inning. One pitch later, he would score on a Gorkys Hernandez pinch-hit single, as San Francisco won its fourth game in a row, its second against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks and its ninth this season in walk-off fashion, 1-0.
“It was a big spot. I’m pumped for Gork, man,” Duggar said. “That was awesome. There was just this feeling in the dugout — I can’t really describe it — but there was this feeling that we were going to win the game.”
Duggar — who was diagnosed with a bruised shoulder — went on to say that it wasn’t just him, but the entire dugout that shared some non-verbal feeling that what was a scoreless battle for eight and a half innings would turn in their favor.
Madison Bumgarner walked four over his seven innings and struck out five, throwing 107 pitches and scattering four hits. Despite walking four men for the third time in 16 starts, Bumgarner was as artful as he’s been all season, deftly dancing in and out of trouble as the Diamondbacks stranded 11 and went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
“That’s what makes him special,” Bochy said. “He just finds a way to make pitches when he has to, and really, what a gutty effort he gave us tonight.”
Bumgarner got out of a two-on jam in the second, worked around a leadoff walk in the fourth and with men at the corners, down 3-1 to A.J. Pollock in the fifth, came back to get Pollock to fly out meekly to center, avoiding the powerful Paul Goldschmidt.
“I think that’s what your elite pitchers are so good at, that makes them special: When they have to make a pitch, they have that ability to slow the game down, to keep their focus,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “That separates the good from the average pitcher, or great pitchers from the good ones.”
In the sixth, Bumgarner loaded the bases with one out, but again wriggled off the hook. He got a Ketel Marte grounder to third that Evan Longoria threw home for the second out, and though Nick Hundley made a try for first, his throw was late. Brandon Belt was able to corral a wide throw and save at least one, maybe two runs. Bumgarner then got a fly out to center by Jeff Mathis to strand three.
“It’s what I’ve seen since two big league camps ago, when I first was able to be behind him,” Duggar said. “It’s what I expect. It’s what our team expects. That’s just who he is. He’s a bulldog, man. He’s our horse.”
After Slater dropped a can-of-corn fly ball in left off the bat of Jon Jay to start the seventh, Bumgarner again pulled a David Copperfield. He stranded men at the corners by getting Goldschmidt pop out to Joe Panik, and then a grounder up the middle by Escobar, which Panik fielded behind the bag and threw to first for the final out.
“Goldschmidt’s had some decent numbers off him too, but he made a nice pitch, threw a cutter in, a slider in, and got the pop-up,” Bochy said. “That’s the pitch that probably won the game for us.
“… He had some tough innings there, stressful innings, threw over 100 pitches, and here he is, facing the heart of the order, and got through it. It says a lot about Madison and what he’s about.”
Though Duggar flashed his easy power on Monday — and again on Tuesday, with a ball he smoked to Triples Alley that wound up as a humble F-9 — it was his glove that saved the game for San Francisco.
With two outs in the eighth, pinch hitter David Peralta sent a rocket to center, with Nick Ahmed aboard on a leadoff single.
“I was way over,” Duggar said. “We were just taking a gamble based on how we felt we were going to attack him. When he first hit it, I knew it was going to be trouble, so I just put my head down and ran as hard as I could.”
Duggar, shaded far over towards left, had recognized that the thinner cut of grass, planted in center field in the wake of an Aug. 21 Ed Sheeran concert, had a bit more bounce to it. As he tracked the ball, he realized he’d get a perfectly checked hop.
“I knew if I got over there, in that general area, just based on the flight of the ball, that I could catch it on a one-hop, and turn around and hit Craw,” Duggar said.
Sure enough, the ball popped up off the turf and into his throwing pocket, and he uncorked a strike to Crawford. As Ahmed rounded third, Crawford threw home. The throw was high, but catcher Nick Hundley leaped up to make the catch and the tag, preserving the scoreless tie.
“That saved the game for us,” Bochy said.
“I’ve played with him enough now that I’m starting to expect that kind of stuff out of him,” Bumgarner said. “I definitely love having him out there … Me, personally, I don’t care if he never gets a hit. I love him in center field, and anything else he does is a positive.”
Though Duggar feels fine after his base running mishap, he will not start on Wednesday, and will be re-evaluated. Hernandez, after his game-winner, was scheduled to start anyway.
“Knocking on wood right now, that tomorrow he’s going to show up and go get it,” Bochy said.
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