ORACLE PARK — As Donovan Solano stretched his arms out wide, high-fived first base coach Jose Alguacil and dodged a glove and a water bottle.
Mobbed by his teammates after rounding first base, the San Francisco Giants’ most unlikely hero put a capper on a 16-inning, 3-2 win with a bases-loaded rolling single through the right side of a drawn-in infield.
While Solano may have gotten the final cheers from what was left of a winning-streak-enhanced crowd of 36,862, starter Madison Bumgarner — who didn’t figure in the decision — got three standing ovations. In what may be his last home start for San Francisco, he tossed a gem, and afterward gave the postgame interview of a man who did not want to be traded.
Both Bumgarner and his opposite number — Noah Syndergaard — have been the subject of much speculation as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. After throwing nine innings and allowing one run on five hits and a walk while striking out six on just 94 pitches, Bumgarner continued to bolster his value, but in winning the Giants’ sixth game in a row and 13th of its last 15, he gave them another nudge towards playoff contention.
“I don’t give a shit,” Bumgarner said of trade rumors. “I’m here to win games 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 into the postseason. We’re making a push.”
San Francisco (48-49), a team that was long thought to be ripe for a sell-off at the deadline in order to acquire young prospects for a multi-year rebuild, is now two games back of Milwaukee for the second wild card spot. There are still more than two months to play in the season, though, and with Pablo Sandoval slowing and Evan Longoria out, San Francisco may not be able to keep pace.
Now with an ERA of 1.86 over his last five outings, Bumgarner continues to make himself even more valuable to contenders who could use his playoff pedigree, and the crowd knew it.
Bumgarner left to a standing ovation after retiring the side in order in the eighth, and again after getting former Home Run Derby winner Todd Frazier to ground out with a man on in the ninth, though he lobbied to pitch the 10th. Manager Bruce Bochy said jokingly that Bumgarner was still mad at him after the game for not leaving him in.
“I didn’t try to make it much of a conversation, but he wasn’t having it,” Bumgarner said. “Usually, if I really want to, I can get my way with him, but he wasn’t having it today … How many times do you get a chance to go out for the 10th?”
Bumgarner had last thrown nine innings in 2016, and San Francisco had not had a complete game since Johnny Cueto that same year. The last Giants pitcher to go nine innings without a decision? Matt Cain on April 18, 2012. Bumgarner said he wasn’t at his best on Thursday, but certainly looked like it.
“Quality strikes with four pitches, he really was on top of his game,” Bochy said. “We needed it, because their guy was, too.”
It was a game Bochy figured would be low-scoring, given San Francisco’s just-completed four-games-in-three-days trip to Colorado, and indeed, the Giants struck out 18 times. The Mets weren’t far behind, at 16.
In winning 12 of their previous 14 games, San Francisco — who had leaped from No. 28 to No. 20 in the majors in runs scored per game over the last three weeks — had scored 8.2 runs per game, scoring 10 or more runs in a game six times and crept to within three games of the second National League wild card. All but one of those games, though, came on the road.
San Francisco came out of All-Star break playing at launching pads Miller Park and Coors Field, scoring 87 runs in seven games. The combination of Syndergaard — better than his 4.55 ERA — and coming home to pitcher-friendly Oracle Park (where the Giants were 20-27) brought the offense back to heel.
Syndergaard allowed a leadoff triple to Alex Dickerson in the second and a two-out double to Belt in the third, but stranded both. In the fourth, he loaded the bases with one out, but held the Giants to one run on a sacrifice fly, as Kevin Pillar’s 103-mph would-be double to left was speared by a leaping J.D. Davis.
In the seventh, the Giants got men on second and third with one out, but with the crowd on its feet for Bumgarner, Syndergaard got the San Francisco lefty swinging at a 3-2 slider for strike three. He then busted Brandon Belt with a 99-mph fastball in on the hands, getting him to pop out to shallow right to end the inning.
Williams Jerez — called up on Thursday morning — gave up the go-ahead 437-foot solo blast to Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso in the top of the 16th, but the Giants — who had managed just three hits in eight innings off of Mets relievers after Syndergaard left — strung a few together in the bottom of the frame.
Dickerson led off with a double off the right field wall, then rode home on an opposite-field double to the left field corner by Brandon Crawford. Austin Slater and Kevin Pillar singled to load the bases.
As Solano stepped to the plate, Bumgarner — out of the game for more than an hour — paced around the clubhouse. Then, on a 1-0 slider from reliever Chris Mazza, Solano sent his second big-league walk-off hit through the right side. It was the first time the Giants won when trailing a game in the 16th inning or later since 1958.
“I’ve been through a lot here, been here a long time, and it’s special,” Bumgarner said. “… That’s what it takes to win championships. I’ve seen it three times … If we keep this going, I don’t think anybody’s going to want to match up against us.”