Madison Bumgarner seemed like he was destined to hit a home run when it counted at some point. Some of you have probably seen the clip I filmed of Bumgarner hitting one 20 rows back into the bleachers in left-center during batting practice on Friday, and during Tuesday afternoon’s BP session Bumgarner hit two pitches in a row into the bleachers. On Tuesday night, Bumgarner’s power went from spectacle to spectacular.
It had to feel good, because this is no exaggeration: the Giants’ starting pitchers spend most of BP either laying down bunts or taking Juan Uribe-like hacks. Call it a diversion, call it machismo, but going yard a couple hours before first pitch matters to these guys.
While Bumgarner has no real competition in the cage, it doesn’t matter until you hit one in a game.
“(Bumgarner’s) probably got the most power on the pitching staff. Incredible power, really. So I know he’s glad to hit his first home run in the Major Leagues,” Bruce Bochy said.
I took that comment and went to Bumgarner with it, and here’s what he said:
This is probably the biggest smile I’ve seen from Bumgarner, and check out the deadpan delivery! In case you can’t watch the 21-second video for whatever reason, it reads like this:
BASG: “Bruce said that you have the most power of all the Giants pitchers. Would you agree, and did this kind of prove it today for you?”
Bumgarner: “I don’t know, Zito’s got some pretty good pop. (Looks over at Zito’s locker) I don’t know if he’s over there, but he does. That’d be the only competition, really.”
Did Bumgarner know his teammates were giving him the silent treatment when he got back to the dugout?
“I was definitely aware. They’ve been giving me crap since about the first day here, since I hadn’t hit one.”
Again, easily the most smiles I’ve seen from Bumgarner during a postgame interview.
Bumgarner’s shot (the one he hit off Bud Norris, not Mark Gardner) traveled 397 feet, but it had the effect of a 550-foot blast for the Giants, who had gone 16 games without a home run at AT&T Park. That was a huge hurdle for the team. Brandon Belt went Edwin Moses over his own personal mental roadblock, hitting his first home run of the season in the 8th inning. For the Giants, who for the first time seem to be hoping as strongly as some of their fans that Belt grabs the first base job and never lets go, it might have been a sign that all the “adjustments” they’ve been leaning on Belt to make are taking — and working.
Think Belt was pressing? Check out his quotes afterward (or watch in the video):
“I was trying to keep it out of the back of my mind, but you had quite a few people on the team that like to remind you pretty much every day. I got to the field today and Bam told me that I was on pace for zero home runs this year, so I figured I had to do something about it.”
Oh, right. Pitching. Fine…
— It’s not often that a 12-strikeout performance gets pushed to the bottom of a post, but Bumgarner is a strikeout pitcher again. has Bumgarner has struck out 10 or more in three of his last five games.
— No walks either, but that seems to almost be the norm at home. In six home starts (43.2 IP) Bumgarner has walked 3. That’s a BB/9 rate of 0.62.
— The Giants’ first round pick, Chris Stratton, came to AT&T on Tuesday night after signing for $1.85 million, the assigned value for his draft slot. In this video he talks about his favorite pitcher on the Giants and how he feels about getting drafted by a team with a reputation for developing strong young starting pitchers.
— And here’s Stratton talking about what it’s like to visit San Francisco for the first time. He said he likes the restaurants because he loves to eat, but it sure doesn’t show. He’s listed at 6′ 3″ and 198 lbs, but while he sat in the stands during the entire game (good fan, especially compared to the thousands that left early), he looked like a kid wearing one of his dad’s sportcoats.