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.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks had a day off on Thursday, and could have used it to reset the rotation, and avoid using a fifth starter for Sunday night’s game. They didn’t.
Was that a basic organizational philosophy? Or was it an opportunity to make sure that Madison Bumgarner actually got to take the mound in his return to Oracle Park to face the San Francisco Giants?
Perhaps it was the former, but I think it’s safe to say that, had it not been an organizational philosophy, the latter would have come into play.
As it was, the Diamondbacks visited the Giants for the first of many times in the Bumgarner era on Monday, and everyone had the feels.
I had the feels. You had the feels. Bumgarner had the feels. Buster Posey had the feels. The broadcasters had the feels. Mike Murphy had the feels.
It was a day of feels.
MadBum’s first game back wasn’t quite as emotional as his last game in a Giants uniform which ... well, if you missed this game it’s not fair for you to have been deprived of your tears, so let’s give you some:
Yeesh. I should really stop cutting onions.
Bumgarner got a standing ovation when he came out to the mound in the bottom of the first, and received strong ovations in every subsequent inning, as well as all of his at-bats.
We all hope that one day we find out what happened during the offseason — Bumgarner certainly hinted that something happened — but it’s clear that there’s no shortage of love between Bumgarner and the Giants fans, Bumgarner and his former teammates, and Bumgarner and the broadcasters.
It was happy, it was sad, it was emotional.
And damn if that doesn’t describe baseball, huh?
Anyway, the game felt a little bit academic after the roaring ovation that Bumgarner got. But it was a game, and it had to be played, and it was fun at that. The beauty of baseball, in all its slow, well-paced, methodical glory, is that a game can feel both academic and joyful. It didn’t feel important, or necessary, or worth any emotional investment, but it sure was a nice thing to sit and watch for three hours.
Of course it helps that the Giants won. And they won in exactly the fashion you’d want them to win in when facing Bumgarner: By not beating him up.
Bumgarner pitched well, allowing 7 hits, 1 walk, and 2 earned runs in 6.2 innings, while striking out 6. And the Giants won.
Honestly, what more could you ask for? It was the perfect game, which is something I didn’t expect to say once about the 2020 Giants.
How they actually got to the win wasn’t that notable, but again, that’s the beauty of baseball. The Giants plodded along, the Diamondbacks plodded along, you drank a few beers and felt the healing powers of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow entering your ear holes as you tried to forget that it’s only Monday, and three hours later the baseball game was won.
There were some highlights. Let’s get to them.
- Jeff Samardzija looked good! It’s good when Jeff Samardzija looks good. Partially because it’s fun, and partially because it’s means he’s not looking bad, which is not fun. But mainly because good Samardzija could be a critical piece to move at the deadline.
- Remember in 2018, when Samardzija only walked 32 batters in 32 starts, across a league-best 207.2 innings? For a day at least, we got that Shark. In 7 innings, Samardzija allowed 0 walks, and only had a pair of three-ball counts. Add in 8 strikeouts, 6 hits, and 2 earned runs, and it was just nice.
- Buster Posey vs. Madison Bumgarner watch: Another single for Posey, and another strikeout for Bumgarner.
- Bumgarner did not get a hit, though he did hit a towering foul ball that excited the fans.
- Mauricio Dubon got the start in center field — his first of the year — and looked good. He didn’t get tested much, but his routes and breaks seemed strong.
- The Giants threw an entirely right-handed lineup at Bumgarner, which was entertaining. When was the last time they did that? Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford got off days, replaced by Austin Slater and Yolmer Sanchez (yes, things got a little funky). Dubon started in center field (Mike Yastrzemski got a day off), with Wilmer Flores getting the second base start. The corner outfield spots were flanked by Darin Ruf and Hunter Pence. Last year righties had a .763 OPS against Bumgarner, while lefties had a .555 OPS.
- Darin Ruf hit a booming home run against Bumgarner. It was entertaining.
The Giants are now 4-6. That feels about right.