Sunday was hot enough as is, but Madison Bumgarner made it cook.
He topped off his complete game stunner to start off this home stand with a shutout to end it, handing the Nationals a 5-0 loss and the Giants their four-game sweep.
Take a breather, bullpen.
There’s no stopping this guy. Fall is nearing, Bumgarner’s snot rocket count is rising and he’s stuck his foot firmly against the closing postseason door. There’s at least one starter, as of now, who can surely get beyond the fifth.
Today, a bit of revenge was clearly boiling his blood; the Nats rocked Bum on July 4 in the nation’s capital, the last time they met, knocking two home runs and a double off his first six pitches. Bryce Harper’s two run shot was the real kicker that day.
Sunday, Harper’s bat was nowhere to be found. Bum struck the lefty slugger out twice and struck out 12 more batters, too, on his way to his ninth career complete game.
Bumgarner was quick to state that he faced Harper with the same approach, he just felt good today:
“Especially since the Nationals got me pretty good last time. So to be able to come back and throw a good game against them was good for me.”
Odd stat of the day: The last San Francisco Giants pitcher to throw a shutout and record more than 10 strikeouts in an inning was Juan Marichal, who sat amongst the fans at AT&T Park today and Saturday night.
It was, afterall, Juan Marichal statue replica giveaway day. But perhaps his presence sent a little vintage baseball vibe Bum’s way, said Bochy:
“That was an old school played game. Starter goes nine. Pitch count was good. Despite all the strikeouts he pitched very efficiently. So it was fitting. I guess Marichel did it so many time and for Bum that’s back-to-back times for him.”
Bumgarner’s contribution, of course, didn’t stop there. He had to stick a knife in this game. In came his bat.
Kelby Tomlinson reached first on an odd infield hit off the mound to lead off the fifth inning and Bum got the green light to take some hacks, one stuck. He pushed an opposite field double that curved off into right field.
Tomlinson, who was on the move even before Bum’s swing, made it home. RBI double, MadBum. Bochy couldn’t help but giggle at the non-hit-and-run:
“It was more of a run and hit. The kid (Tomlinson) can run, he can steal a base and he was in motion there and Madison’s got the option there, but I don’t think he’s gonna take, to be honest. That’s what was impressive, he did go to right field.”
Has Bum been working on his opposite field approach? Nope. Bum laughed:
“Nah that was an accident. Pure accident.”
Bum went back to his bread and butter in his next at bat, pulling a home run deep to left field in the seventh. That’s 10 career homers and the fourth this season for the 26-year old. He sits alone, unscathed and pretty untouchable, atop the ML starting pitcher home run ranks.
It’s easy to regurgitate high praise for the starter. He’s just awesome when he’s commanding all his pitches, who isn’t. That last start in Washington and the subsequent one against Philadelphia in early July marked his only real lull of his season.
He went around five innings in both with eight combined earned runs. Posey said his fastball command allowed him to bounce back:
“I think, like anybody else, the command of the fastball has been as good as it’s been all year. I think that’s the main thing. He’s already tough, because he’s got weird angles and obviously has great stuff, but if he can control the fastball like he has, he’s gonna be tough.”
In three starts this August, Bum has given up just two earned runs and is holding a .72 ERA. This could be the beginning of September baseball/postseason Bum mania. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
He’s adamant that his mindset doesn’t shift much throughout the season. Sure, Madison.
Not that Bumgarner needed it, he had provided enough pop to support his own cause, but the offense still gave him a little push.
The Nats, looking to put an end to the potential sweep, sent Bishop O’Dowd Alum Joe Ross to the mound. And for three innings he stumped the Giants, striking out six and keeping all nine batters off the bases.
That was until the fourth, when Gregor Blanco singled up the middle to start off the inning. He moved to second on a Matt Duffy fly ball and Brandon Belt doubled off the left field wall to send him home and put the Giants up 1-0.
Hunter Pence sent a slider that snuck over the plate deep into the left field stands to put the Giants up 3-0.
Bumgarner took it from there, adding on two more runs to send his team off on a tough St. Louis, Pittsburgh road trip.
The Giants won four in a row, but the Dodgers won today, keeping the Giants at 2.5 games back in the West as they head out of San Francisco…They face the St. Louis Cardinals next, who boast the best record in baseball (75-42) and then Pittsburgh right after (69-46)…Good news, the Giants are ow 11 games above .500, the best record they’ve had all season…Though the West seems more winnable as of now, the Giants’s upcoming series with the Pirates and Cubs (the two Wild Card leaders) could very well put them deeper into the wild race.