OAKLAND – They may have been wearing black for Players Weekend, but the Giants did not want Saturday to be a funeral for their playoff hopes.
The Giants used a barrage of hits to stack together an eight-run eighth, erasing a 4-2 deficit and clobbering the A’s bullpen in a 10-5 victory at an excited Oakland Coliseum, with 53,367 the announced attendance for Round 3 of the Bay Bridge Series, which the Giants now can’t lose.
It snapped a four-game losing streak and moved the Giants (64-65) to five back of the Cubs for the second NL wild card. Their chances are not good, especially with the Phillies, Brewers and Mets to leapfrog, but they are alive.
As far as knockouts go, the eighth began as more of a steady stream of body blows than a haymaker. Seven straight Giants reached base, starting with a Buster Posey single and ending with Brandon Crawford slapping a base hit past Matt Olsen at first. In between were excellent at-bats all around, including doubles from Alex Dickerson and Kevin Pillar, as well as a well-worked walk from Austin Slater against hyped A’s prospect A.J. Puk.
And then Stephen Vogt provided the left hook.
The former A’s catcher crushed his eighth homer of the year, this one the opposite way to left, off Ryan Buchter, a three-run shot that provided the cushion.
The Giants offense had started slowly, with one hit in the first four innings off Oakland starter Chris Bassitt. But Crawford – who went 2-for-4 and is 7-for-15 in his past five games – homered in the fifth to get a run on the board. An inning later, Dickerson (3-for-5) got the Giants’ third hit of the game, a double to deep left, and Longoria (2-for-4) followed with an RBI single up the middle. The liner nearly knocked out Bassitt, who just avoided the smashed hit, but did knock him out of the game. And the Giants got to a bullpen that was about to implode.
Shaun Anderson, who Bruce Bochy announced before the game would be at least temporarily moved to the bullpen, pitched an imperfect eighth, walking two before Josh Phegley’s RBI double. Bochy had to ask Reyes Moronta to bail him out, which he did, before Will Smith got the final three outs.
Apart from Anderson, it would have been hard for the Giants to script a more perfect ending. Yet, their start could have been better.
For a second straight outing, Madison Bumgarner was not at his best. He allowed two runs in five innings on four hits and a walk and five strikeouts.
Bumgarner had to grind for every hitter he retired — it took 97 pitches for him to get his 15 outs. He was ahead of Athletics hitters all night, with 16-of-21 first-pitch strikes, but couldn’t put them away, as they fouled off 25 pitches against him. His velocity was a tick down; he averaged 90.8 mph on his fastball, which has averaged 91.5 mph this season. And his results were a tick down as well.
It started with a Mark Canha homer in the second, and Bumgarner got into more trouble in the third. With two on and one out, Matt Chapman doubled to deep left to score Jurickson Profar.
Oakland put two more on in the fifth, but Bumgarner bore down to strike out Matt Olson to end the threat.
Bumgarner was not glorious but kept the Giants in the game. Until the Giants knocked the A’s out of it.