Madison Bumgarner Delivers Another Masterful Performance


Madison Bumgarner, in a must-win game — in a series of must-win games — in the middle of the Giants’ improbable yet still mathematically possible push for the playoffs, did what he does best — shut hitters down.

Bumgarner delivered a masterful performance that electrified the fans at AT&T Park, yielding only one hit after flirting with a perfect game through 7 2/3 innings. He wound up striking out nine en route to a complete game shutout, his fourth complete game of the year.

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It is rare that the Giants’ offense can score eight runs and not have that be the main focus of the game. But such was the case on Saturday as Bumgarner improved to 18-7, matching his wins total from last season, and moving to just two games away from reaching 20 wins for the first time in his career and becoming the first Giant to reach that mark since 1993.

He was assisted in part, by solo home runs from Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt, as well as by  Marlon Byrd who had a 3-3 night. But beyond that, the southpaw was the story.

Bumgarner retired 23 Padres in a row to start off the game, with all of his pitches working perfectly. Not only did he not allow a single hit, but he refused to surrender a base in any form to San Diego and was able to induce flyouts to keep his pitch count low as he cruised through the Padres’ lineup.

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In any no-hit or perfect game bid that gets into the late innings, there always seems to be a defining defensive play that keeps the budding historic event intact. And this game featured two of them, made by the Giants young middle infielders Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson.

Tomlinson had been perfectly positioned by bench coach Ron Wotus to make a spectacular leaping catch in the seventh inning off of a tall line drive from Derek Norris. Then in the eighth, Adrianza was able to snag a ball hit deep into the hole at short by Justin Upton and throw to first for another huge out.

Aug 27, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher

Madison Bumgarner

(40) prepares to deliver a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In what would become a cruel twist of fate though, Padres skipper Pat Murphy brought Melvin Upton Jr. into the game as a pinch hitter with two outs in the eighth inning. Upton Jr. had been the one to break up Chris Heston‘s no-hit bid earlier in the season at Petco Park with a broken-bat flare for a single. This time he broke up his 0-10 career record against Bumgarner with a single up the middle — the only hit of the game for the Padres.

Bumgarner left the field to a massive standing ovation from the Giants faithful. They may not have been able to witness the history of Bumgarner becoming the 24th player in MLB history to throw a perfect game, but they did get to see their team’s ace deliver in another clutch game.

His performance was eerily reminiscent of his unprecedented postseason last year, when he threw more than double the innings of any other pitcher on San Francisco’s roster. Not bad for a 26 year-old.

All season long, Bumgarner has had to answer questions about his health after that historic workload and many expected him to struggle this season. But the fact remains that he is currently on pace for a career-high 225 regular season inning workload, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

It is more than a little bit ironic that the one Giant who most people worried about in terms of injuries has been one of the few Giants to not be faced with a single one. Throughout this season, which unfortunately has been defined by injuries to key players, Bumgarner has stood strong through it all and stands alone as the only National League pitcher with four complete games so far in 2015. He looks just fine.

Throughout it all, Bumgarner was able to stay remarkably grounded, one of the traits that has led to his incredible success in high-pressure games. “I’m not here to pitch perfect games or no-hitters,” he said after the game, “It would definitely be special no matter what, but my main concern is winning games.”

He certainly accomplished that.