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Madison Bumgarner dominates the Padres, 3-0

Madison Bumgarner threw eight shutout innings and knocked in the only run the Giants needed.

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Ordinarily, I would say that one start doesn’t prove anything about a pitcher. I don’t want to sound like Mike Krukow after a good Tim Lincecum start, but Madison Bumgarner is back y’all. Not that he went anywhere. He broke his hand and had a few shaky outings when he returned, but he’s back, dang it.

In Bumgarner’s previous three starts this year, he’s been missing something whether it’s command or sharpness on his breaking pitches. Tonight, he was complete. His fastball, slider/cutter, change, and curveball megazorded into Madison Effing Bumgarner.

Bumgarner went eight innings, struck out eight, walked two, and only allowed three hits. He’s had better starts than this. Going off of game score, this wasn’t even in his top ten. But it’s been a while since a Giants starter has seen the eighth inning. The last time a Giants starter finished the eighth inning was September 15, 2017 when Jeff Samardzija threw eight innings against Arizona.

His strength tonight was that he didn’t have to rely on just one pitch. He got a strike out with every one of his pitches except the changeup. Even then he still got whiffs with the changeup. He got hitters to chase curveballs below the zone. He exploded hitters’ thumbs with his cutter. He blew high fastballs by guys.

In other words, he pitched like Madison Bumgarner.

The Giants couldn’t hit Tyson Ross, but it didn’t matter. Because no one could hit Bumgarner.

That is except for Manuel Margot. Margot had the two hardest hit balls off Bumgarner tonight. Both went for doubles. One to lead off an inning. The other should have set up runners at second and third with one out, but Jose Pirela ran through a stop sign.

I love me a good TOOTBLAN. I especially love TOOTBLANs that come as a result of running through a stop sign the third base coach has put up. A third base coach essentially does two things: relay the signs from the manager to the batter and look at where the ball is hit and tell the runner whether to try to score or stay at third. Since anyone could relay signs, they really just do one thing.

Imagine the gall it takes to tell not only a coworker, but a supervisor, “I know you’re an expert in this one thing you do, but nah, I got this.” That’s essentially what Jose Pirela told the Padres’ third base coach, Glenn Hoffman. “I know you get paid a lot of money to do this one, simple thing, but I got this.”

Hoffman admittedly gave Pirela a late stop sign, but that’s because he was waiting to see what kind of throw Andrew McCutchen made. Pirela did not see the play happening behind him. He didn’t see McCutchen deftly pick the ball up with a bare hand and fire a perfect throw to Joe Panik. If had, he would have known how totally boned he would be if he tried to score. How boned was he?

Pretty boned!

I don’t want to ignore how good of a play the Giants made though. A bad throw or a fumble and Pirela no longer looks like a nincompoop. Instead, he looks like a genius and/or the Giants look like nincompoops.

With the way Bumgarner pitched tonight, I’m not even sure that if Pirela holds up he’s going to score anyways. It’s possible, nay probable, that Bumgarner would have struck out the next batter and got the next to pop up. But who knows? Maybe that situation sends us on a darker timeline than the one we’re on now. Maybe the Padres score four runs in that inning and a thousand more “What’s wrong with Bumgarner?” articles are written.

I for one am glad Pirela ran through the stop sign so I didn’t have to find out what would have happened.

The home run surge has really messed with my ability to tell if a ball is gone or not. When home runs were up last year, balls that I thought were routine flies went ten rows up. This year, when home runs are down, balls that I think are ten rows up wind up being routine flies. I think it’s happening to Duane Kuiper, too because he’s gone into his home run call for balls that haven’t hit the warning track about 137 times this season. I don’t remember him doing that this often, if at all.

I could have sworn Bumgarner’s sacrifice fly was going to hit off the Coke Bottle. It wasn’t just all the people in the stands jumping out of their seats, or Kuiper getting excited. It looked like a dinger off the bat. For about six tenths of a second, I thought Bumgarner was finally going to get a throw-a-shutout-hit-a-dinger game. Bumgarner is due for a throw-a-shutout-hit-a-dinger game. It’ll happen eventually. It has to.

Instead, he’ll have to settle for throw-eight-innings-hit-a-sacfly-and-have-the-offense-add-on-later. Those are good, too. They don’t quite roll off the tongue though.

As arbitrary a stat as saves are, it was good to see Mark Melancon get one tonight. It was his first save in over a year. Does he get this opportunity if Sam Dyson doesn’t nearly blow the game yesterday? Probably not. Regardless of what inning he’s pitching, Melancon being good is of even greater importance with Strickland out. His outing wasn’t without it’s collar-tugging; he allowed the leadoff hitter to get on. But he finished the game out with weak contact and a knee-buckling curve.

I am here for Mark Melancon returning to form. I don’t know if he’s there yet or even close, but he can reclaim the mostly meaningless title of closer. All he has to do is pitch like his old self.