SAN DIEGO: There are times when Madison Bumgarner’s temper on the mound is a Rottweiler held back by kite string.
He’ll bark at opponents with little apparent provocation, as he did to the San Diego Padres’ Wil Myers in the third inning of Tuesday night’s 5-1 victory at Petco Park. You don’t have to step on his property. Walking on the other side of the street can be enough. So can taking a too-big swing, or expressing frustration at popping up a pitch.
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has said he won’t talk to Bumgarner about dialing back his snarl. When it is your property being protected, a little menace without malice can be a good thing.
Bumgarner is pitching with edge after an uneven April, and every start is more sharp-toothed than the last. Brandon Crawford hit a three-run home run in the second inning and finished with all five RBIs and Bumgarner fired his 11th career complete game as the Giants ran their winning streak to six games.
Matt Kemp kept Bumgarner from the shutout with one swing leading off the ninth. His booming home run clanked off the third floor or the Western Metal Supply Co. building down the left field line.
Bumgarner held the Padres to five hits and struck out 11 while improving to 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA over his last five starts.
As benches-clearing incidents go, the Giants and Padres had a comparatively mild meeting of the minds in the third inning.
There were no right crosses connected, or even thrown. Cocktail parties don’t feature so much milling about. All the while, the grounds crew dutifully dragged the infield. By the time the relievers made their long and obligatory jog from the bullpen, it was over. They succeeded only in making fresh cleat marks.
No, it does not take much to inflame Bumgarner on the mound. It was hard to tell whether Myers offended him by calling timeout, or taking too long to get in the box, or even taking too healthy a cut, by the pitcher’s reckoning, while striking out.
But Bumgarner barked at Myers, then stared him down. Myers turned back with a look of incredulity, appeared to say, “C’mon.” Then his face darkened and, with a choice word interspersed, asked Bumgarner why he was looking at him.
Bumgarner began to walk in Myers’ direction and plate umpire Dale Scott positioned himself between them. Jake Peavy was one of the first players to dash out of the dugout, making sure the Giants’ left-handed ace would not have a clear path to an action the entire team would regret.
On a day when the league suspended Texas Rangers outfielder Rougned Odor for eight games for throwing a punch at Toronto’s Jose Bautista, the penalties for fisticuffs were clear.
The Giants made their hard contact against Padres right-hander Colin Rea. Brandon Belt doubled to start the second inning, he stopped at third on Hunter Pence’s single and Crawford did not hesitate to swing after Rea threw him three pitches out of the strike zone.
Just four days earlier, Joe Panik swung at a 3-0 pitch for the first time in his career and hit a difference-making three-run home run at Arizona. But Crawford already knew what kind of damage could be done with a green light.
When he took Rea deep for a 423-foot shot to the beach beyond the center field fence, it marked the fourth time in his career that Crawford had put a 3-0 pitch into play. Crawford owns three home runs on those four swings.
The Giants added a run in the sixth inning when Buster Posey doubled and scored on Crawford’s sacrifice fly.
Bumgarner did not require much support. He retired the side in the first inning on just six pitches, aided by Denard Span’s sprinting catch in center field on Myers. He threw just 12 pitches while striking out the side in the second inning.
And the incident in the third, when Bumgarner stranded a runner in scoring position, did nothing to unnerve or distract him. He retired the side in the fourth and fifth, then dialed up his stuff again to escape a jam in the sixth.
Myers worked him for a tough at-bat and doubled to put two runners in scoring position with one out. Bumgarner responded by striking out Derek Norris, then Belt made a running basket catch of Kemp’s foul pop to end the inning.
—The Giants activated right-hander George Kontos from the disabled list and optioned right-hander Clayton Blackburn to Triple-A Sacramento.
Kontos had missed the last 26 games with a right flexor strain near his elbow. He looked sharp in four rehab outings for Sacramento, including back-to-back appearances Thursday and Friday.
—Blackburn spent a weekend in the big leagues but is still awaiting his major league debut. The Giants didn’t need him because Peavy and Matt Cain both pitched deep enough into their starts.
—Right-hander Sergio Romo (strained flexor tendon) faced minor league hitters in a 23-pitch inning in an extended spring camp game. He’s scheduled for another on Friday, and could begin a minor league rehab assignment after that.