Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner made his first start in nearly a month in the D-backs’ 4-3 loss to the Giants at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Saturday night.
Not only was it the lefty’s first appearance since Aug. 9 due to a mid-back strain, but it was also Bumgarner’s first outing against his former team.
The southpaw spent 11 years in San Francisco where he compiled three World Series titles and one World Series MVP in what was one of the greatest postseason pitching performances of all time.
Bumgarner threw 72 pitches (44 strikes) over four innings and allowed two earned runs on just three hits to go along with two walks and two strikeouts.
“This day was mostly centered around Bum,” manager Torey Lovullo told media on a Zoom call after the game. “It was great to have him back out there on the mound doing his thing and it was part of the plan.
“It was something we had discussed internally as a staff that that’s about the pitch limit — he had a couple pitches left, it just wasn’t worth it to me to send him back out there. I had a discussion with him in the dugout and he said he felt good and that’s all I needed to hear.”
The game couldn’t have started any better for the former Giant.
Following a Christian Walker RBI sac-fly in the top of the first inning, Bumgarner was he was able to pitch in the bottom half of the frame with a lead for the first time in his D-backs career. The lefty only needed seven pitches in order to complete a one-two-three bottom of the first.
But Evan Longoria and Darin Ruf would get to Bumgarner in the bottom of the 2nd by leading off the inning with back-to-back solo home runs to give the Giants a 2-1 lead.
“I felt pretty good about it, where we were at,” Bumgarner said postgame. “I made more than one mistake, but there was one that cost me — to Longoria.
“I threw it about where I wanted to, I was debating whether to throw that cutter up and in or down and in. Obviously now looking back, I should’ve gone with the down and in option. But the pitch to Ruf, you just have to tip your cap to him.”
Bumgarner was activated off the 10-day injured list by the Diamondbacks earlier on Saturday. In a corresponding move, infielder Andy Young was optioned in order to make room for the starting pitcher.
The lefty came into Saturday night’s contest having allowed 18 earned runs over 17.1 innings pitched en route to an 0-3 record in four starts this season.
Lovullo said before the game that he would be monitoring things — such as pitch count — throughout the game with pitching coach Matt Herges.
“We just want it to be a healthy and strong outing where it ends on a very positive note because he deserves that,” Lovullo said pregame.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, back-to-back RBI triples from Joey Bart and Mauricio Dubon would extend San Francisco’s lead to 4-1.
D-backs’ Daulton Varsho would cut the deficit to 4-2 in the top of the 7th with the first home run of his career that landed in McCovey Cove. The rookie becomes the first visiting player in MLB history to hit his first career home run directly into the famous cove behind the Giants’ right field wall.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” Varsho said of his first big league homer. “When I hit it, I was just running out of the box and that was a pretty cool moment to see it go over the wall. … Once I saw it leave the wall, I was like ‘Man, I hit that pretty well.’
“I just didn’t know it landed in the cove, but it’s pretty cool that I was able to do that. … I think [my confidence] has definitely risen. Whenever you get a couple hits, it usually rises a little bit. So hopefully it can stay there and ride out the rest of the year.”
Arizona third baseman Eduardo Escobar would cut the deficit to just one run in the bottom of the eighth thanks to an RBI single, but the comeback would end there, as the Diamondbacks couldn’t muster anything in the top of the ninth.
The D-backs get back at it on Sunday in Game 3 of the four-game series against the Giants.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.