AT&T PARK — The San Francisco Giants’ starting rotation has collapsed in 2014.
Ace Matt Cain underwent elbow surgery. Ryan Vogelsong has lost seven of his last 10 starts, and two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum pitched his way out of his starting spot and into the bullpen.
But one star, Madison Bumgarner, has held on.
The Giants’ 3-0 win against the Rockies on Tuesday proved that Bumgarner (W, 15-9, 3.02 ERA) really is one of the best left-handers in the game. And, at this point in the season, the sole survivor from the once-prolific San Francisco rotation.
Bumgarner threw his fourth complete game of the season that included a career high-tying 13 strikeouts, no walks, and just one, devastating hit from Justin Morneau, an eighth-inning double that dropped just feet from the right field line at the warning track.
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
Morneau’s one hit separated a typically stellar performance by Bumgarner from an historic perfect game.
Bricks of disappointment fell onto AT&T Park, and post-traumatic memories of Yusmiero Petit’s near-perfect game last September — and the devastated look that washed over his face — briefly resurfaced.
Bumgarner, though, stayed cool, finishing off the game’s final batters with four strikeouts and two pop outs. The southpaw didn’t care about what could have been, he was focused on the win.
Asked about whether he would like his own champagne celebration and a place in Giants history, he said:
“It’s a cool thing to do, its a good individual accomplishment but that’s not important to me … But when it comes down to it, we’re just trying to win games and that’s it. It’s not about yourself it’s about your teammates.”
The strikeout board atop Levi’s Landing filled up steadily with K’s throughout the game; Bumgarner pitched 24 first-pitch strikes and notched 17 0-2 counts.
Manager Bruce Bochy said of Bumgarner’s near perfection:
“…That game was probably more impressive than a lot of no hitters, that’s how well he threw tonight. You look at strike outs, stuff he had, command, that was just quite a job, very impressive…The one hit, looked like it was a pretty good pitch he got a hard bat on it. But I thought what was impressive about it was that, that could really be a little disheartening, but it’s a 2-0 game and he regrouped and made some great pitches after that.”
Buster Posey took care of business other side of the ball, bashing two home runs: a two-run shot off Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa (L, 13-9, 4.19 ERA), and a solo shot in the ninth inning.
Posey’s offensive heroics came as a relief today. San Francisco has struggled against lefties, before today the team was 5-14 against them. Posey has struggled against De La Rosa this season, going 0-for-5 before today’s home run.
And, with Bumgarner pitching the way he was, it was essential that the offense provided some sort of run support.
“At that point, you could sense that he had a shot the way he was throwing to do it. It definitely would have been a lot more stressful if we didn’t have any runs on the board in the ninth.”
The Giants finish their four-game series with the Rockies Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.