Madison Bumgarner pinch hit against Aroldis Chapman last week, and while the mere fact that he didn't get injured doing it was unquestionably the only highlight from September, it was also somewhat impressive that he reached base. Should we go through that plate appearance, pitch by pitch? Sure! I mean, it's either that or sit here and wait for the news that Jake Peavy walked into a steamroller (out 1-2 months). Jake seems nice. Let's try to save him from the Odd Year Curse.
I can only hope that MLB Advanced Media doesn't come after me for this, as the GIFs in this post clearly indicate that I am attempting to destroy the game of baseball.
Chapman starts Bumgarner out with a high fastball, as if he were pitching to Salvador Perez in Game 7 of the World Series. And then Bumgarner swings through it, as if he were Salvador Perez in Game 7 of the World Series. The Giants would eventually lose this game, like the Royals lost Game 7 of the World Series, but not on this batter, which is where the metaphor breaks down. Sal Perez, of course, also didn't have to face a 99-MPH fastball, though the part where the lefty pitcher on the mound was a terrifying boogeyman does seem pretty familiar.
Because I made this GIF, 25 people won't watch baseball on their regional sports network. Sorry, baseball.
After going above the zone at 99, Chapman decides to stop screwing around and put some effort into a dang pitch for once, so he humps up a little to 101 to bust Bumgarner on the hands. Bumgarner's swing is a bit late, and he doesn't really come close to making contact. It's a clever move from Bumgarner, who's clearly just setting Chapman up. "C'mon, man, I can't hit a fastball," he's saying. "Just throw it over the plate. You won't regret it." It's a veteran move.
Because I made this GIF, 75 people chose not to subscribe to mlb.tv. I'm so, so sorry, MLBAM.
Chapman, seeing that Bumgarner is setting him up, thinks to himself, "Hey, if he can't catch up to 101, there's no way he can hit 102." If you're wondering whether a pitcher knows beforehand exactly how fast every pitch he throws will be, the answer is yes. Yes he does. Chapman overthrows the pitch a little, so it's an easy take. Would Bumgarner have hit it if the ball was in the strike zone and he'd been able to get a swing off? We'll never know, but yes. It would have been a grand slam, because pitcher vs. Chapman HRs automatically score an extra run. It's in the rulebook. Check it out.
Because I made this GIF, 109 people will stay home tonight instead of going to Petco. I really just feel awful about this.
Chapman takes a little off, and the ball comes in at a mere 100 MPH. Come on, man, put some mustard on it. Bumgarner wants to swing, but identifies the ball as too high. If the ball was just a little lower, Bumgarner probably would have swung, but as-is, it wasn't tempting enough. At some point, you might think that Chapman would have to throw a breaking ball, especially considering that Bumgarner is not an effective hitter against breaking stuff. This was not that point, apparently. And, not to spoil the end for you, the point did not come.
Because I made this GIF, 420 people cancelled their cable subscriptions in order to watch baseball on illegal streams on the Internet. Shame on me.
This was the one to hit, and Bumgarner barely missed it. It came in at 99, a clear sign of fatigue. Bumgarner was obviously just wearing Chapman out, and this was the reward. This is the pitch that professional baseball players want out of Chapman: up, but not high, fast, but also the slowest pitch so far in the PA, and very, very hittable. Bumgarner missed it. It's incredibly unfair to expect him to wallop it, but we've seen him do so many amazing things. What's one more?
Because I made this GIF, the next Chris Sale isn't even going to play baseball. He's going to sit in front of his computer and also make GIFs. HE LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING ME.
Easy take. Chapman had control problems all night, as well as command problems, which works out nicely for me because I can never remember the difference between those. It would be nice to be able to spin these not-even-close pitches as respect for Bumgarner, but that's not really a conclusion we can draw. The next guy up was Ehire Adrianza, and Chapman would hit him in the foot to force in a run. Chapman was way off with his fastball, and he didn't even consider throwing a breaking ball. In any case, this was a wasted 2-2 pitch, which was probably not Chapman's intention.
AT&T Park is going to crash into the bay because of this GIF. The damage it and others like it has done is incalculable. I am a repulsive human being.
This seems like a pretty easy take too, but Chapman changed sightlines here, trying to hit the bottom of the zone. It wasn't really close to being a strike – the framing makes it look a lot closer than it was, but don't be fooled, you savvy Internet user – but the entire PA had gone up-up-up, with only the third pitch being down before this. It's a hard thing to anticipate, much less react to, when the pitch comes in at 98 with movement like Chapman has. But Bumgarner did, and it was a hell of a job.
You might have noticed that the GIF of pitch 6 is smaller than the ones of the other pitches. This is because I am not very good at making GIFs. Yet I'm still good enough to destroy baseball as we know it. Sorry, everyone. When baseball dies, I'm so sorry. MLB Advanced Media tried to save it, and I was the bad guy the whole time. I hope they issue a cease and desist to get this post taken down. It would truly be the right thing to do.