SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 12: If you can think of a better way to exchange long home run swings I'd like to hear it. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Our progeny shall sing songs of his deeds. He has inside him blood of kings. He is Madison Bumgarner.
If you sent the video of this game back in time to yourself sometime last season, your past self would undoubtedly say (after marveling at time travel technology), "Phew. Good. He is just going to keep getting better and better." The continued success of Madison Bumgarner is taken for granted at this point. Expected. Even for fans that's kind of insane. Nothing is guaranteed in sports and pitchers are especially vulnerable to a sudden drop in health and performance. But Madison Bumgarner allays all those fears by being so consistently dominant. He's so unflappable that we don't even consider the possibility of worrying about him. I can't think of any 22 year olds I wouldn't worry about... bunch of weirdos, if you ask me.
12 strikeouts. 92 on the fastball late in the game. A great slider the whole night. No walks. Yes, it was the Astros, a team with a sub-.500 record and a lot of spare parts filling out the lineup card, but it was also the Astros, not a terribly bad team (94 wRC+ vs. Giants' 89, for example). He struck out the side in the first. He struck out three of four faced in the seventh. He retired them in order in the 4th and 5th. He looked unbeatable for seven innings because he was.
If you could label the theme of his starts it would be "unbeatable". The motif would be snot rockets. The model would be consistency.
Madison Bumgarner looks the same whether things are going great or getting weird, so when he reveals another side of his personality it comes as a welcome surprise, because he is fantastic and we are lucky to watch him pitch. His first major league home run showed us that other side:
Oh you marvelous bumpkin. Look at that restrained joy. You know there's eight silos of happiness beneath that hard scrabble exterior. That wasn't a crack in the veneer, it was a calculated display of casual dominance. A sly smile from the dude controlling the action. This power display was also expected of Bumgarner. He had the look, we'd been told he had the swing, there was even evidence of that power, and so as thrilling as it was, a home run from Madison Bumgarner was an inevitability. Again, that I'm expressing such a thought to you is crazy.
I liked that the Giants gave him the silent treatment because it's kinda funny. But I imagine that he thought, "Yeah, they probably don't recognize what it is that I just did." A 22-year old pitcher just ended the Giants 16-game homer-less streak in their home stadium. #LOLGiants
Tonight wasn't even the highest game score (79) of his career (87), but it certainly was one of the best starts as a Giant. We truly are watching the pieces of a historically great career come together, like a left-handed Voltron. May the songs our grandchildren and great grandchildren sing of Lord Bumgarner be free of auto tune and may only the remixes be dubstepped upon...
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We could sit here all night and into the morning singing the praises of Madison Bumgarner, but it would be wrong of me to not mention that Brandon Belt hit his first home run of the year tonight. That was pretty darned cool.
Belt has been disappointing because he's looked so bad. Now, it's true that only someone serving Jeremy Piven his dinner has been jerked around with more than Belt has but the results of his intermittent appearances have been less than positive, save for an above average on base percentage. I'd really, really like to believe that crushing a hanging slider is the start of a power surge from the Giants' first baseman -- hell, any first baseman at this point -- but I'm going to keep my expectations low. For now. Brandon Belt is no Madison Bumgarner, after all.
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- I still can't believe we live in a world where Melky Cabrera's presence in a lineup can be missed. I can't believe I was happy to see him again.
- Chris Stratton was clearly wearing his grandfather's good suit coat.
- Another reason to love Jon Miller... on the replay of Nate Schierholtz getting hit by a pitch: "He normally likes to swing at those pitches".
- David B. Flemming said "snot rocket".
- This is the last season (barring a playoff meeting) the Astros will visit San Francisco as a member of the National League. Isn't that weird?
- I really hope Bud Norris isn't broken-broken.
- Pablo Sandoval's at bat with Brandon Lyon is easily in the top 10 "Most Pablo Sandoval" at bats in his history. The down and in slider nearly Jermaine Dye'd him, but he kept right on chasing it. No idea if it's a good thing or a bad thing to see him back to his old ways. Some of those old ways are special (in the good way!). And he flashed some leather tonight which should fend off the Giants' BMI Police for another night.
My first and only home run started when I tried to bat left-handed. I got down in the count 0-2, got mad, and switched over to right-handed (which is illegal but wasn't called by the ump). I drew even 2-2 and then ripped the next pitch past the shortstop. As I ran to first, the left fielder overthrew the cutoff man. I scampered for second. The infielder threw the ball to second base, but overthrew him, so I pressed for third. The ball got to third but the third baseman dropped it. I charged home and scored just as the the throw to the catcher sailed over my head.
What's the story of your first home run?