After two weeks in a row of experiencing starts by the apparently somewhat broken Taylor Widener, I was really glad to draw a different starting pitcher, and was pleased and curious and looking forward to having a close look at the apparently rejuvenated Madison Bumgarner. I am on record as never having been a fan of the Bumgarner signing, and while I’m not at all pleased with the amount of $$$$$$$$$$$ we’re paying him, I’m glad that he seems to be getting back into form as the rotation anchor that the Diamondbacks wanted and needed him to be.
Things looked a little dicey when he came out to start the first. He retired the first two batters he faced in short order, but then gave up back-to-back singles to left field to Giants’ first baseman Darin Ruf and former Diamondbacks Swiss Army knife Wilmer Flores. Flores seems to be having a good season and is getting a lot more playing time with San Francisco than he did with us, and I’m happy for him, as he always struck me as a good guy. I don’t like seeing him do well against us, though. But no damage was done, as Bumgarner buckled down to induce a grounder to San Francisco second baseman Donovan Solano for the third out. It took him 17 pitches to get through the frame, but given how the first inning went in both of Widener’s starts that I recapped recently, I was willing to provisionally call that a win.
Josh VanMeter then led off in the bottom half against Giants righty Johnny Cueto, and lined the second pitch he saw to deep right for a leadoff double. He wound up stranded there, sadly, along with Kole Calhoun who drew a one-out walk, when both Carson Kelly and David Peralta failed to deliver.
Bumgarner continued to do the business in the top of the second, getting two looking Ks and retiring Cueto for the third out after giving up a two-out walk to Giants’ catcher and Diamondbacks killer Curt Casali. 20 pitches in this inning, so his count was up to 36, which was not great, but still in the acceptable range, especially for Diamondbacks starters this year.
Christian Walker led off the bottom of the second by blooping a little single into shallow left that wasn’t at all mighty but which got the job done. Daulton Varsho then popped out to third, bringing Nick Ahmed to the plate. Nick drilled a ball down the left field line that rolled all the way to the corner, scoring Walker from first and putting Nick on second with a stand-up double. Bumgarner then drew a walk, turning the lineup over in the bottom of the second. There was a deeply weird play during Josh VanMeter’s second at-bat, where Casili tried to chase down a Cueto pitch in the dirt, and wound up corralling it with his mask rather than his mitt, and got called for a balk?!?? Apparently catcher balks are a thing. Who knew? Baseball is weird.
Anyway, that advanced Ahmed to third and Bumgarner to second, but VanMeter was ultimately rung upon a called strike three that was well outside the zone, marking the first of many bad calls made by Chris Guccione, tonight’s home plate umpire. Ultimately, however, that didn’t matter, as Asdrubel Cabrera hit his own double, this one to right field:
Ahmed and Bumgarner scored, and Cabrera was stranded on second when Calhoun struck out, but we were on the board first, with a crooked number. 3-0 D-BACKS
Oddly enough, that was pretty much all the action and the drama of the game. Bumgarner set down the top of the Giants lineup in order to start the third, recording his first of two innings without allowing a baserunner. He gave up a one-out double to Solano in the top of the fourth, but Solano was erased by this awesome fielding play by Ahmed:
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, were continuing to put runners on base, thanks in some measure to Cueto’s wildness tonight—he wound up giving up four walks through five innings—but not getting them across. But Bumgarner was continuing to cruise, so it was more or less fine.
The only really dicey inning, and the one blemish on Bumgarner’s night, was a one-out solo homer that he surrendered to Casali in the bottom of the fifth. He then gave up a two-out double to Giants’s leadoff hitter Austin Slater, so it looked like the wheels might start to be coming off for Madison. Happily, though, he got out of it thanks to this stellar bit of fielding by Kole Calhoun:
He was pitching very well against the best team in baseball, and the position players were doing their part behind him to pick him up. It was really nice to see. It was also a really bizarre inning in that Bumgarner faced five hitters, gave up a dinger and a double, and still got through the inning having thrown all of five pitches. Again, baseball is deeply weird sometimes. 3-1 D-BACKS
Some guy named Aaron Sanchez came out of the San Francisco bullpen to take the mound for the sixth and seventh and actually the eighth, and though he gave up four walks and a Kole Calhoun double, we couldn’t capitalize, partly thanks to Chris Guccione’s worst call of the game, where he called a strike on Nick Ahmed in the 3-0 count that was a foot outside the strike zone and would have walked in a fourth Diamondbacks run. Many of us in the Gameday Thread were concerned about this, as with this team and our bullpen especially, a two-run lead is not nearly enough to make us feel secure.
But Bumgarner wound up pitching seven innings, and new lefty Tyler Gilbert set the top of the Giants lineup down in order in the eighth in his major league debut, and Tyler Clippard pitched around a one-out Solano double to record his second save of the season. I don’t remember how long it’s been that we took the lead early and held it through the entire game, but that’s how it was tonight, and it was frankly really nice.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs
Jackie Chan: Madison Bumgarner (7 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 99 pitches, +30.6% WPA)
Chris Tucker: Asdrubel Cabrera (3 AB, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 RBI, +10.6% WPA), Nick Ahmed (4 AB, 2 H, 1 R, 1 RBI, +10.3% WPA)
Reasonably robust Gameday Thread tonight, with 16 participants serving up 330 comments. Per usual, DC and Justin led the way with 67 and 42 respectively. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, Dano_in_Tucson, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Justin27, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snacks&Dbacks, Snake_Bitten, cnsieler, gzimmerm, kilnborn, since_98, therealramona
There were actually four comments that went red tonight, and only one of them was actually directly related to the game, so CotG goes to kilnborn:
Ahmed made another boneheaded decision on the basepaths in the fourth inning, for the second Tuesday night in a row, so I think the TOOTBLAA probably needs to be acknowledged as a Thing going forward. Just sayin’.
Anyhow, I hope you can join us tomorrow night for the third game of this four-game series, as Zac Gallen takes the mound against San Francisco right-hander Kevin Gaussman. First pitch is 6:40pm AZ time.
As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go D-Backs!