SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner didn't stray anywhere near the pitcher's mound, his usual place of business. Yet, he still controlled Tuesday night's outcome in the Giants' 5-4, 12-inning win over the Padres at AT&T Park.
With the game tied at 4, Gorkys Hernandez led off the 12th by tripling off Rowan Wick, San Diego's sixth reliever. Up came Bumgarner, one of the best hitters among contemporary pitchers. He drilled a 1-0 fastball past Padres third baseman William Myers for the pinch-hit single that brought home Hernandez for the run that ended San Francisco's five-game losing streak.
Bumgarner's single was believed to be the first walk-off hit by a Giants pitcher since Don Robinson connected against the Astros on July 31, 1990.
"It was a weird, deja vu-ish moment," said Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, who explained that as he loosened up in the batting cage adjacent to the dugout, his gaze fell on a photograph of Bumgarner being swarmed by teammates after his dramatic Game 7 performance in the 2014 World Series. "It was like, 'Is this some kind of foreshadowing?' He has a knack for those moments. Sure enough, he came through."
That's when the fun really started as a few Giants players targeted Bumgarner for a Gatorade bath. Bumgarner was having none of it.
"I had to make sure to get to him, because I'm not sure what he might do to some of the other people," said Pence, who at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds stands at least a chance of restraining the 6-4, 242-pound Bumgarner. "He was telling everybody he was going to kill them."
However, the only violence Bumgarner inflicted was the sharp contact he made in stroking his first career walk-off hit and his fourth career pinch-hit, which went by Myers at third.
"[Myers has] got a chance to glove that," Padres manager Andy Green said. "The ball's definitely hit very, very hard. It's not an easy play. But if you can stay down, you've got a chance to make the play."
Asked whether he considered walking Bumgarner, Green said, "No. I know he can hit. We all know he can hit. But so can the guys behind him. ... There's definitely respect for his bat."
The same could be said of Pence, who isn't exactly easing into what could be the last week of his career. He scored three runs, clobbered his fourth homer of the season and raced home from first base to score a go-ahead run in the seventh.
It has been assumed that Pence could retire after the season. His five-year, $90 million contract will expire, and his batting average has hovered in the low .200s through much of the season.
But when Pence has a game like this, it's permissible to wonder whether his production is illusory or a sign that his skills, which have been mostly dormant since 2015 due to injuries, can flourish again.
"I'm not going to assume anything with him," Bumgarner said. "If he wants to play, he should keep playing."
However, Giants manager Bruce Bochy struck a note of finality as he announced that Pence will bat leadoff in each of San Francisco's remaining four games, as he did Tuesday. Bochy's message to Pence: "Go out there and do your thing."
The Giants have beat the Padres in nine of their last 12 meetings, including seven of the last 10 at AT&T Park.
HE SAID IT
"I'm in the last days of the contract, so the future is unknown. It really is a tremendous honor and a joy for me deep down inside to take this field for as many years as I have and for these last couple of games." -- Pence, on the potential last few days of his career
Right-hander Casey Kelly will make his third spot start of the season for the Giants, who oppose the Padres on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. PT at AT&T Park. Kelly's outing will guarantee that Bumgarner will receive his regular rest if this weekend's series against the Dodgers has postseason implications for Los Angeles. Kelly's last start came against the Mets on Aug. 22, when he allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits over six innings in a loss. Luis Perdomo will start for the Padres in a bullpen game.