On May 4 of this season, Madison Bumgarner was having a night.
He had pitched six innings of no-hit ball against the San Diego Padres and faced Justin Upton to start the seventh. Upton plopped the fourth pitch into left field and Yangervis Solarte followed with a the dagger, another hit.
Just four months later, against the Padres, no less, it looked like he was due. MadBum took a perfect game one out shy of the holy ninth until Melvin Upton Jr. punished a single right back at him.
Bumgarner (W, 18-7, 2.91 ERA), as expected, laughed off any hint of his disappointment:
“No. No! No. If there was (disappointment) I wouldn’t tell you. But there really isn’t.”
Bumgarner’s not about the accolades, though he picked up a few big ones last season. He’s not about wins, though he sealed his 18th tonight (the second-most in the Majors) with a complete game one-hitter in the Giants’ 8-0 win over the Padres on Saturday night.
He doesn’t care about perfect games or no hitters, he’ll tell you, though his teammates defending behind him, like Brandon Belt, think it’s inevitable at this point:
“It’s just one of those things you know will happen in the future, you’re just waiting on it.”
Buster Posey, who’s had a little experience with these types of games (try two no-hitters and a perfect game), wasn’t too convinced:
“It’s really hard. You see tonight, I think when (Derek) Norris hit that one ball on the nose … But other than that there weren’t too many hard balls hit. That’s about as dominant as you can get. There’s so much that has to go right.”
Bumgarner was functioning perfectly from his end, but that’s all he can control, said Bum:
“When I got through the lineup once, I started thinking a little bit more about it I guess.”
The eighth just felt like a precursor to an inevitable celebration. Before Jedd Gyorko flied out to right for out number two, Justin Upton had hit a sharp ball to Ehire Adrianza that had an Arias-deep-from-third type of feel. Adrianza completed the off-kilter throw to Belt, who said he was freaking out:
“(I was thinking) A lot of bad words. I think everybody out on the field wanted it for him so bad because he’s been so good.”
But Upton, the pinch hitter up next, was catching Bumgarner 90-some pitches in with a fresh set of eyes.
That perfecto-destroying hit was the only one Bum gave up, and he struck out nine batters on the way. That’s par for the course for MadBum, really, he’s in his pure August form — commanding the zone and flustering hitters with movement that’s only getting more mystifying as the season progresses, said Posey:
“He was on. Just really pitched well to both sides of the plate. Probably the outside corner to righties is up there, I can think of maybe one or two starts this year, where he’s probably been pretty similar.”
The Giants’ offense made that perfect bid the game’s only element of suspense; Marlon Byrd went 3-for-3 with three RBI and a run on the night and the ‘kids’ showed their stuff once again.
It’s always Bumgarner’s night when he takes the mound, and today was no different. He’s so solid that the perfect game might have been the only way to satisfy a hungry crowd.
Tonight’s 7-2/3 innings of perfection bid beat Bumgarner’s previous perfect game attempt with seven perfect innings against Colorado last August. Asked if this one felt similar:
“The box scores must have been pretty similar. But I don’t really remember. Too many games in between.”
The Dodgers beat Arizona 9-5 tonight, so, standings stay pat.