That was as dominant as Madison Bumgarner can possibly be.
Before lamenting what could have been, before digging into the factlets and minutia, recognize what that was. That was an excellent pitcher at his absolute best. He might have better seasons in the future. He might morph into a perennial All-Star over the next 15 years. He might blow a snot rocket in front of horrified onlookers during a speech at Cooperstown.
But the odds are great that he'll never pitch better than that. It wasn't just the lack of baserunners. The empty bases were pieces of evidence, not the entire story. It was how he looked, the impossible slutter on the hands and the creeping slider on the outside. The command and the confidence. That was as dominant as he can possibly be.
Once you realize that, you care less about Justin Morneau reaching out and putting a ball where Hunter Pence was not. As a Giants fan, you can have it both ways. No-hitters and perfect games are the best because they exhibit the perfect combination of skill and luck, which is what baseball is about in the first place; no-hitters and perfect games are neat, but they shouldn't mean that much more than a peerless, exceptional one-hitter.
Both are true. Both are so true. You get to pick which one makes you feel better when you need it to. While I would have loved for Madison Bumgarner to pitch a perfect game, it's probably more appropriate to revel in the fact that he pitched the best game. The best he's capable of, anyway, lone hit be damned.
If you think this is slathering it on too think, that this is prewritten hyperbole jammed into a one-hitter recap because it already existed, it is not. Here are all of the one-runner games since the Giants moved from New York:
|Tim Lincecum||2014-06-25||SFG||SDP||W 4-0||9||0||1||6|
|Yusmeiro Petit||2013-09-06||SFG||ARI||W 3-0||9||1||0||7|
|Matt Cain||2012-06-13||SFG||HOU||W 10-0||9||0||0||14|
|Matt Cain||2012-04-13||SFG||PIT||W 5-0||9||1||0||11|
|Jonathan Sanchez||2009-07-10||SFG||SDP||W 8-0||9||0||0||11|
|Trevor Wilson||1990-06-13||SFG||SDP||W 6-0||9||1||0||9|
|Don Robinson||1988-08-10||SFG||HOU||W 5-0||9||1||0||8|
|John Montefusco||1976-09-29||SFG||ATL||W 9-0||9||0||1||4|
|Gaylord Perry||1968-08-26||SFG||CHC||W 3-0||9||1||0||3|
This was the tenth in San Francisco history. (Mike McCormick had one in five innings back in '59, but that doesn't count.) When it comes to 28 up, 27 down, Madison Bumgarner is on a very short list. There are four no-hitters on that list, and while we know that we can't put this start in the same wing of the Hall of Great Giants Starts, it's in the building. You still have to buy a ticket to see it. You'll still be glad you did. That was as dominant as Bumgarner can possibly be.
My favorite part, other than the everything, was the disgusted reaction after the perfect game was broken up. It wasn't a disgusted reaction in the outward, I'm-upset sense. It was an implied disgusted reaction. He picked up the ball and abused the next three hitters. The game was still in doubt, and every hitter at the plate was the possible tying run. He abused them all. He did the things that made it a one-hitter in the first place: pitches with movement, impeccably placed, thrown too hard for anyone to catch up with.
He threw first strikes to 24 of the 28 batters he faced.
He was throwing 93 with movement to the last batter he faced.
This was as good as an excellent pitcher can pitch. You saw it. And if you didn't see it, you can go back and watch it. This season might eventually turn out to be a smoldering diaper in an elevator going to the 162nd floor, but there have been worse seasons. There have been worse seasons that haven't featured the two- and three-hour installments of awe that Tim Lincecum and Bumgarner have given us this year. Those kinds of things can make and define a season. 2014? Yeah, that was the season with the no-hitter and Bumgarner going ape ...
Gregor Blanco was almost the Gregor Blanco of the game.
Man, the odds that he would be in left for this particular game. Probably similar to the odds that he'd be playing right field in Matt Cain's perfect game, I suppose. Michael Morse would have gotten stuck in the glove compartment of the Chevron car if he tried to catch that ball.
Angel Pagan: What do you mean you're stuck in the glove box? That's a painted car. There's no glove box.
Michael Morse: You gonna help me or not? Aw, dang, it hurts. It's all twisted.
Pagan: Hold on. I'll get some tools.
You might know me as a butterfly-effect aficionado, someone who thinks the difference between the second out of the first inning and a one-out double can change the game, season, playoffs, franchise history, and THE GENDER OF YOUR FUTURE CHILDREN. This is because that's exactly what I believe. And that ball could have led to another dreadful, dispiriting loss of doom.
Instead, it was a one hitter. No walks, either.
As long as we're looking stuff up, here are the 13+ strikeout games without a walk in San Francisco history:
|Matt Cain||2012-06-13||SFG||HOU||W 10-0||SHO9, W||9||0||14|
|Tim Lincecum||2011-04-06||SFG||SDP||W 8-4||GS-7, W||7||0||13|
|Tim Lincecum||2009-04-18||SFG||ARI||L 0-2||GS-8||8||0||13|
|Tim Lincecum||2008-07-26||SFG||ARI||L 3-5||GS-7||7||0||13|
|Jason Schmidt||2002-08-20||SFG||NYM||W 1-0||SHO9, W||9||0||13|
|Ray Sadecki||1968-08-11 (1)||SFG||NYM||W 2-1||CG 9, W||9||0||13|
|Bobby Bolin||1963-06-12||SFG||CHC||W 3-1||CG 9, W||9||0||14|
|Sam Jones||1960-08-30||SFG||PHI||W 2-1||CG 9, W||9||0||14|
I want to punch those Lincecum games in the sternum and never apologize for being a Giants fan again.
This is the part of the program where we talk about Buster Posey, who is excellent at hitting baseballs.
All of the consternation about this season, all of the blame and kudos and blame ... it can all go away if Buster Posey carries the team on his shoulders. He can. I remember the last time he did, it was called 2012, and your mom has a tattoo of it on her face. That was as hot as we'll ever see a non-Bonds, and it ended when Posey hit the game-winning grand slam against Mat Latos in Game 7 of the World Series at home before a crowd of 83,093, then came out and sang "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You II" and saved the world.
That was fun. Posey doesn't have to be an MVP again, but if he could close the last month out like an All-Star. that would be swell. For years and years, I've looked at Baseball Reference pages for Hall of Famers and wondered why (x) season with (y) stats didn't have the "AS" to the right of the season entry. Well, maybe because they happened like this. They didn't come in the right sequence for an All-Star berth, even if the full 162-game season deserved to have that "AS."
Buster Posey being Buster Posey could make us laugh about how stupid we were being, you know. Buster Posey doin' his thing for the next month could make us look back at the 2014 regular season and wonder aloud how we could be so nearsighted, so daffy, so untrusting. In that alternate reality, Posey is good enough to make the Giants something of an unstoppable force. I'd laugh, but we've seen it before.
Good gravy, Madison Bumgarner.