Comebacker ends Bumgarner's night early

July 7th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- saw one of his potentially final home starts for the Giants end after just two innings Saturday night after being struck on his pitching arm by a comebacker in the first inning of an 8-4 win over the Cardinals at Oracle Park.

After giving up a leadoff single to Tommy Edman, Bumgarner took a direct shot to the left triceps area above his elbow on a 98.3 mph liner off the bat of Jose Martinez. He suffered a left elbow contusion on the play, though X-rays came back negative.

Asked if he felt like he dodged a bullet, Bumgarner replied, “I feel like I jumped right in front of one.”

Bumgarner appeared unperturbed after being hit, but he didn’t wave off manager Bruce Bochy and athletic trainer Dave Groeschner when they came out to check on him. Still, Bumgarner initially managed to convince them to keep him in the game after throwing three warmup tosses.

“It got him really good. It did,” Bochy said. “You could see the big lump there where it hit him on the left elbow or just above it. He wanted to try to go. He took his time, threw some pitches and said he was good to go.”

Pitching with a noticeable red welt on his arm, Bumgarner subsequently whiffed Paul DeJong on a curveball for his 1,705th career strikeout, surpassing former teammate Tim Lincecum for sole possession of second place in the Giants' San Francisco era. The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Paul Goldschmidt, but Bumgarner managed to complete the inning on 30 pitches.

Bumgarner posted a clean second and came up to bat in the bottom half of the inning wearing a black compression sleeve and elbow guard on his pitching arm. He emerged from the dugout for the third, but he was accompanied by Groeschner and Bochy. By that point, the group had already decided to err on the side of caution and pull Bumgarner from the game, though he needed to go back out to the mound to ensure that reliever Sam Dyson received sufficient warmup pitches once he officially came in to replace him.

Bumgarner departed after throwing 39 pitches in his final start before the All-Star break.

"[Pitching coach] Curt [Young] and the training staff were just a little uncomfortable with all the swelling there," said Bumgarner, who was wearing a gray compression sleeve on his left arm following the game. "That's their job. I'm not going to dispute that. Whatever they think is best. It looks nasty, but as far as what it feels like, it never tightened up, it never got sore."

The Giants had no reason to put Bumgarner at further risk for injury, as the 29-year-old left-hander is expected to be one of the club's top assets ahead of the July 31 Trade Deadline. Eligible for free agency at the end of the season, Bumgarner has logged a 4.03 ERA over a team-high 111 2/3 innings and recorded quality starts in 13 of his 19 outings this season.

Bochy said he's optimistic Bumgarner will be ready to make his next scheduled start Saturday in Milwaukee, though the Giants could push him back if the swelling is slow to subside.

"We got a break," Bochy said. "He should be fine to go after the break. We have him going on Saturday. We have some flexibility there, if we have to change that. We'll see how he's doing over the break. If he needs more time, we can rearrange the rotation and give him more time."

There is an increasing sense that Bumgarner's tenure with the Giants could be reaching its final stages, a feeling that has become more palpable with each start. He received a louder ovation than usual when he walked onto the field to "Fire on the Mountain" on Saturday, with the fans in attendance savoring what could be one of his final starts at Oracle Park for the Giants.

"That's nice," Bumgarner said. "We have great fans. It's pretty special to play here."