With his future up in the air, a Madison Bumgarner from the past showed up at Oracle Park on Tuesday.
The face of the Giants, a wanted face by general managers across baseball, showed off what kind of addition he could be with a masterpiece, allowing two runs – one legitimate – in six innings in a 4-2 win over the Rockies in front of 31,458.
Bumgarner was marvelous, untouchable early and getting by with enough stuff late to escape damage he didn’t ask for. He struck out 11 – his 33rd career double-digit K game, though first since April 2017 – and allowed just three hits – two legitimate – to a strong Colorado lineup.
He threw 97 pitches, his low-90s fastball, curveball and cutter working, and could have gone longer if not for some unfortunate Giants (34-44) defense.
Charlie Blackmon opened the sixth with a double to center that Kevin Pillar never got a bead on. But Bumgarner, biggest when it matters, got Ian Desmond on a strikeout, Nolan Arenado on a pop-up. And he got David Dahl to pop-up, but…
Alex Dickerson lost it in the lights, standing frozen as it looped his way. Pillar raced over but was a half-step too slow. The ball fell and was recorded as a double, perhaps the only thing to go wrong for Bumgarner, as Blackmon scored to make it 3-2.
But that’s as close as Colorado would get. Tyler Austin, who’s been lost in the outfield shuffle and hadn’t played since Saturday, pinch-hit in the seventh and crushed a Bryan Shaw cutter 411 feet, pushing the Giants’ lead to 4-2.
Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Will Smith got the last nine outs without allowing a baserunner.
For six innings, there was some old coming through in Bumgarner, who even drove in a run with a fourth-inning single. There was some new coming through in Dickerson, who, suddenly the cleanup hitter, went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He made solid plays whenever he could see, at least.
Through 10 batters, Madison Bumgarner was literally unhittable. The lefty, whose every start brings questions of whether this is his final one as a Giant, pitched like he wanted to make another memory. And like he wants to help his trade value.
The quality start lowered his ERA to 4.21, which had taken a hit with his six-run, 3 2/3-inning start against the Dodgers on Thursday. But the Giants’ concerns – and those of his trade targets – had to be pacified a bit.
The brilliance hit a roadblock in the fourth, when Ian Desmond saw a first-pitch changeup and hit it 382 feet to tie the game, 1-1, the Giants’ lead lasting all of three pitches to Rockies hitters.
The Giants got on the board first in the third, when Brandon Belt worked an eight-pitch at-bat that finished with a sacrifice fly to score Donovan Solano.