SAN FRANCISCO -- There wasn't one phase of the game you could scapegoat as the Giants limped into the All-Star break. Losers of seven of their last nine, it was important to play a complete game Friday -- nine innings of solid play in all facets of the game -- in order to get the team in the right state of mind for the second half.
Sure it was only one game, but nine hits from the offense, a three-hitter from the pitching staff and flawless defense made the Giants clubhouse an enjoyable place to be after San Francisco's 5-1 win over the Houston Astros Friday night.
"I thought it was important to get on track and just play good ball," Bochy said. "And we did that.
"It started with Bumgarner."
Bumgarner is doing remarkable things for any MLB pitcher. What he's doing as a 22-year old is downright wild. Bumgarner earned his 11th win of the season with seven innings of two-hit ball, and he was frustrated afterward.
"Command-wise," Bumgarner said. "I wasn't putting it where I want to."
Despite the apparent lack of control -- Bumgarner was visibly frustrated when he walked Brian Bixler following the Giants' two-run second inning -- the unforgiving lefty lowered his home ERA to 1.81 in eight AT&T Park starts this year. That's good for fourth in the National League, behind only the Dodgers' Chris Capuano, the Pirates' James McDonald, and teammate Ryan Vogelsong, who leads the National League with a 1.43 ERA at home.
While Bochy believes Bumgarner feeds off the hometown crowd, Bumgarner likes to think he is imperturbable on the mound. That said, he acknowledges the positive impact of the ballpark.
"I think any pitcher would be more comfortable pitching here," Bumgarner said. "It's not really a hitter's park."
Something else that helps? Four runs in support over the first two innings.
The Giants collected nine hits on the night, one from every spot in the lineup save leadoff.
"It's nice to get off to an early lead, take a little pressure off. But you're still trying to go out there and pitch your game -- make pitches. But if you mess up here or there, it's going to be okay."
He did mess up, and it was okay. Bumgarner's lone blemish on the night came when he elevated a fastball to Chris Snyder. Gone.
The Giants had a chance to add an insurance run when Nate Schierholtz led off the seventh inning with a triple, but they failed to get him in.
Pablo Sandoval made sure that wouldn't happen again in the eighth after his seismograph-registering belly slide put him on third base with one out. His bold decision to tag up on Angel Pagan's subsequent shallow line drive to left paid off when he re-tagged home after the aftershock of the homeplate collision between 240-pound heavyweights Sandoval and Chris Snyder.
"That's a lot of mass coming into home plate," Bochy said.
It was a lot of mass leaving AT&T Park happy as the 127th consecutive sellout enjoyed fireworks before filing out after diving head first into the final 75 games of the year.
"This is the way we wanted to start the second half off," Angel Pagan said. "We're ready to go. Refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready to win this thing."