With the MLB season suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, there are no baseball games and limited baseball news. So I’m creating a hypothetical season — complete with news and recaps — until baseball resumes. All news and recaps will have the hypothetical tag, so you can at least know when you’re suspending reality. And you can click “hypothetical season” above the headline to see everything that has happened in this “season.”
Counting the postseason, Madison Bumgarner made a perfectly clean 300 starts with the San Francisco Giants.
It only took two starts with his new club to once again find himself sharing a field with Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and a bunch of orange and black clad ballplayers.
Bumgarner made his Arizona Diamondbacks debut on Thursday against the Atlanta Braves (a destination many had him pegged for in free agency), and he didn’t exactly introduce himself to his new fanbase quite the way he intended to. He got knocked out of the game after just 4.1 innings and 5 earned runs. He looked angry but resilient as he walked off the mound, just as we’ve grown accustomed to him looking during struggles.
So Tuesday night’s game against the Giants provided the perfect opportunity for the four-time All-Star: He could get into the hearts of Diamondbacks fans, while sticking it to his former club, all in one fell swoop. And he had an inept offense handed to him on a silver platter, just waiting for his punishment.
MadBum obliged. It was a vintage performance, as his trademark pitch - the “slutter” - dropped away from batters, making the Giants look foolish. Bumgarner pitched 7 innings, allowed just 4 hits (all singles) and 2 walks, and struck out 11. He added an RBI double in the third inning because why not?
It was a sight familiar to every Giants fan, and if you squinted your eyes (or drank enough beer) you could almost forget that the vintage performance was coming against the Giants, rather than for them.
And this, dear friends, is the essence of baseball. Bumgarner dismantling the Giants was poetic in both its beauty and tragedy. It made you happy, but it also made you want to cry, punch things, and snuggle up with your 2014 World Series commemorative teddy bear. It gave you a full range of emotions, and then invited you to come back tomorrow.
Once brought on to be Bumgarner’s co-ace, Johnny Cueto couldn’t quite match his former teammate. Cueto missed his fair share of bats - he recorded 14 swings and misses, en route to 7 strikeouts - but the Diamondbacks peppered hits across the diamond. Cueto limited the damage for a while, keeping the Giants in it for as long as possible, but seemed to always be in trouble.
The death blow of sorts finally came in the bottom of the sixth, when Ketel Marte blasted a two-run home run to give Arizona a 4-0 lead. Cueto recorded another out to get out of the inning, but the inning not only put the Giants in an insurmountable hole, but ran up his ERA.
San Francisco, meanwhile, couldn’t find any opportunities against Bumgarner, though it was fun to see Posey rope a single against his longtime battery mate (even if he struck out in the other two at-bats). The Giants finally got on the board in the ninth inning, when a Brandon Belt two-run home run set the final score: Diamondbacks 5, Giants 2.
The first loss to Bumgarner. The first of many, I’m sure. There have been happier times with him on the mound, of that much we can be certain.
But for now, Bumgarner can sleep tight, we can toss in our beds wondering when we’ll hear his honest opinion on what happened in free agency, and the Giants can wake up with a record of 1-4. Whoop-de-doo.