SAN FRANCISCO — Six weeks ago, as he watched the Sacramento River Cats take batting practice before his rehab start, Madison Bumgarner asked how Steven Duggar was doing at the plate. He wanted Duggar's defense in the outfield at AT&T Park, and he wasn't alone. Giants pitchers have been waiting for Duggar's glove since his breakout this spring. On Friday, they learned that the bat will help them, too.
Duggar had two doubles, scored three runs, and drove in two more, handling most of the offensive production in a 7-1 win over the A's.
"I think he's going to sleep good tonight," Bumgarner said. "I'm glad he's here. I've been waiting."
The wait was longer than expected, but it doesn't appear Duggar will be headed back at any point. The rookie's biggest game since his Sunday promotion included a pair of impressive doubles, but before them, Duggar showed off an underrated skill that will have an impact. The Giants have always viewed him as a future leadoff hitter because of the speed, but also the ability to have quality at-bats. It was a trait that stood out when Duggar was starting to open eyes in A-ball two years ago. In the first inning Friday he saw 11 pitches from Edwin Jackson while grounding out. Three innings later, the extended look would pay off on the double.
"The thing about Steven is he's a patient hitter," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He sees a lot of pitches, he battles up there, he's got pop and then he gives you the speed."
That showed on the first double. The Giants didn’t have a hit when Duggar led off the fourth with a liner into the corner in right. He blazed into second in 7.76 seconds, the second-fastest home-to-second time of the season for the Giants. Duggar has the fastest, too, a double in his debut on Sunday. All of this in less than a week, and for a team that has plenty of burners now on the roster.
In the sixth, Duggar drew a leadoff walk that would lead to the go-ahead run. He came around on Buster Posey’s broken-bat single to left four batters later. It looked to be a tense night, but the Giants loaded the bases ahead of Duggar in the seventh. Jeremy Bleich, a lefty making his MLB debut, hung an 0-2 slider and Duggar guided it into right, breaking the game open. He might have had a triple if not for the runner in front of him being held at third.
"He was in the middle of everything today, all the rallies and the big hit to break it open," Bochy said. "He looks like he's comfortable already."