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Bumgarner outduels deGrom, Giants win 3-1

Madison Bumgarner threw eight strong innings and knocked in a run with a double. The universe continued to hate Jacob deGrom for some reason.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants salvaged a split with the Mets despite failing to score four or more runs in each of the four games. Still, this particular game was actually, dare I say, fun? The Giants were going against a serious Cy Young candidate with their own ace on the mound. Though they were totally overmatched against Jacob deGrom (not because the offense is so very, very bad rather deGrom is so very, very good), they put together competitive at-bats and put themselves in a position for the Mets to screw up. Sometimes, that’s all you need to do.

The Giants got their first run in an inning that went walk, strikeout, groundout, strikeout. I know. I’m shocked, too. It’s hard to remember after watching this team score just 14 runs in the past week, but sometimes, a team can just be given a run. Steven Duggar stole second as Andrew McCutchen swung through a slider at the belt. The Giants have not been a good basestealing team, but Duggar, as an individual, has been one of the most effective basestealers. Duggar eventually advanced to third on the groundout, and finally scored on a passed ball that Evan Longoria swung through. Had the Giants made contact on those two otherwise hittable pitches, they likely wouldn’t have scored in that inning.

The Giants got their second run in an inning that went groundout, single, popout, strikeout walk, double. Jacob deGrom definitely struck out Nick Hundley, but home plate umpire Tony Randazzo apparently forgot to call a strike. See if you can tell which pitch I’m talking about.

It should have ended the inning, but it didn’t. Without having watched a lot of deGrom’s starts in real time, I was still aware of his constant Cainings. deGrom has 8 wins on the season, and he’s been worth 7.6 bWAR. I figured it was the result of just general Metsing, but today was some cosmic injustice. If I had guess, I’d say that deGrom won’t win the Cy Young this year, and it’s because of nonsense like this. A passed ball and a missed strike call.

Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer are both deserving of the award, so it’s not as if it’s going to go to Rick Porcello because he was credited with 20+ wins. Still, it’s hard not to feel for the guy.

This isn’t to say that deGrom was perfect today. He walked three batters that weren’t Hundley and part of that was his changeup command. He had issues throwing the changeup for a strike, and the Giants, to their credit, did a nice job of laying off it. Even if they couldn’t do a lot against his fastball, slider, or curveball, they made him throw a lot of pitches. He threw over 100 pitches before the end of the sixth inning.

The strategy to make the starter work and get them out of the game early has fallen out of favor a bit in recent years because bullpens are so good. However, the question of “Who’d you rather face: Jacob deGrom or the Mets bullpen?” isn’t really a question at all. Even without his best stuff, deGrom struck out 10 batters. This was the eighth time he’s struck out 10 or more batters all year. The Giants have had a starter strike out 10 or more one time in 2018. That was when Johnny Cueto struck out 11 back on April 17.

I recognize that the runs credited to deGrom’s record were unfair, but I’m glad they happened because they were conducive to the Giants’ success. Had they not happened, the first 500 words of this recap would have been about how Madison Bumgarner got Cain’d. Bumgarner allowed just the one run on a solo home run to Todd Frazier. Through the sixth inning, it looked like he had a chance to throw the first complete game thrown by a Giant since last August when Jeff Samardzija shutout the Padres. The Giants don’t even have an eight-inning complete game which is when the pitcher throws eight innings but still loses. Seems like that would have happened at some point this year.

I suppose we’ll just have to settle for Bumgarner being excellent. He struck out eight and didn’t walk anyone. He got whiffs with all his pitches and he showed a lot of confidence in his curveball. He threw a nice 69 MPH curve to strike out deGrom. It was one of the slowest curves he’s thrown in the last three years (he averages around 78 with the bendy boy), and it’s a little funny that he did it against the opposing pitcher. I wouldn’t think that deGrom is the kind of hitter one would want to use a secret weapon against, but here we are.

Bumgarner backed up his strong outing with an RBI double. It was Bumgarner’s first extra-base hit of the year, so today was the platonic ideal of a Bumgarner start. Bumgarner still doesn’t have a “throw a shutout, hit a dinger” game, but “throw eight innings, hit a double” is pretty close.

Evan Longoria hit another dinger bringing his season total up to 14. The Giants are still the only team without a 15-homer hitter, but Longoria could break that. Brandon Belt and Andrew McCutchen are also sitting on 14. Longoria’s first season with the Giants has been pretty big disappointment. His 91 wRC+ would be his worst as a major leaguer. As soon as he started to put things together, he got his hand broken by the Marlins Death Fog. Still, he’s shown enough signs of promise that I’m not totally regretting the trade for him.