Opening Day is still 22 days away, but in Wednesday’s 4-4 tie with the San Diego Padres, the Giants unveiled a close resemblance to their possible 2018 Opening Day lineup — including a strong performance from Madison Bumgarner.
With every starter in position minus Buster Posey, who is still dealing with a tweaked ankle, Bumgarner made his third appearance of the spring and delivered another convincing performance that alluded to the haunts of 2017 being behind him. He maneuvered through 3.1 innings on 69 pitches, giving up two runs on five hits, and fanned six — including the Padres’ prized-acquisition Eric Hosmer, twice.
“I feel completely normal now,” Bumgarner said. “I felt pretty much normal last year when I came back, I did come back a little on the faster side, but it was pretty much normal. Now everything feels the exact same.”
While it’s still only March, Bumgarner’s numbers are hard to deny. Of the 24 total batters he’s retired this spring so far, 15 have come from strikeouts. Over his eight total innings pitched, he’s given up four earned runs over nine hits and walked just one.
The Giants’ starting lineup featured every position player in their designated spot, except Nick Hundley, who filled in for Posey. Notable differences included the Giants’ revamped outfield — Andrew McCutchen in right, Austin Jackson in center and Hunter Pence in left, and Joe Panik, who took the lead off spot in the batting order.
A glimpse of the Giant’s every day lineup may have rejuvenated Bumgarner, who admitted he did not check the lineup prior to taking the mound before the game.
“It definetely catches your attention. I didn’t come in and look at the lineup and see who’s playing. I just walked out onto the field, and to see some of those names, it’s a pretty good feeling.
“Since I’ve been here, this might be the best team we’ve had on paper,” he added. “Now we have to go out there and do it, but I feel really good about it. It’s nice to see those guys out there, we had a lot of them out there today and I think everybody’s excited about it.”
Mark Melancon made his spring debut, pitching in a live game for the first time since September 5. He retired all three batters he faced in order, including Wil Myers on a fly out to Pence.
Andrew McCutchen showed some signs of adaptation in right field, as he made a sliding catch to open the game and rob Manuel Margot of a base hit.
Josh Osich, Tony Watson, Chris Stratton and Tyler Herb all faced hitters for the Giants as well. Watson pitched a hitless inning, but walked one. Stratton gave up two runs and three hits over three innings, including a game-tying solo shot via Dusty Coleman in the top of the ninth.
The Giants banged out 12 hits, including doubles from Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt. Longoria had two RBI, Brandon Crawford drove in a run with an RBI single in the bottom of the first and Josh Rutledge accounted for a run off a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh.
Giants threatened with two on and two out in the bottom of the tenth, but roster-hopeful Steven Duggar struck out looking to end the game.