SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Madison Bumgarner's last start against the Royals didn’t end well. A year ago, Bumgarner faced Kansas City in his final Cactus League outing and suffered a fractured left hand after being struck by a comebacker off the bat of Whit Merrifield.
Bumgarner returned to pitch against the Royals on Sunday, but much to the Giants’ relief, he completed his start without incident, yielding one run on five hits over 6 2/3 innings in a 7-2 win at Scottsdale Stadium.
It was the best performance of the spring for Bumgarner, who walked none and struck out six. He also helped his own cause by tying the game with an RBI groundout in the fifth.
“I’ve never been in midseason form at the end of spring or to start the year, but I feel like I’m in a good spot to start now,” Bumgarner said.
Merrifield batted third for the Royals and went 1-for-3 against Bumgarner, driving in the lone run against him with an RBI single in the third.
“I try not to think about it, and I didn’t, really,” manager Bruce Bochy said when asked if Merrifield sparked flashbacks to last year. “But I’d be lying if I say I don’t remember it well.”
The Royals trigger memories both good and bad for Bumgarner and the Giants. They were also the team the Giants defeated in the 2014 World Series to capture their third championship in five years. Bumgarner, of course, came out of the bullpen and pitched five scoreless innings in Game 7 to clinch the title for San Francisco.
In a nod to that triumph, Bochy started the same infield -- third baseman Pablo Sandoval, shortstop Brandon Crawford, second baseman Joe Panik and first baseman Brandon Belt -- that played behind Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey in Game 7.
The configuration lasted three innings before Evan Longoria entered the game to replace Sandoval at third.
“It’s hard to believe that we can still do it,” Bochy said. “We’re talking about five years ago. It couldn’t have worked out better as far as doing it with Bum pitching. But that was a while back, and we’re not living in history, trust me. But still, it was a neat moment. You try to enjoy the game and savor some special times and moments in this game, and we did.”
Bumgarner will have one final tuneup against the D-backs on Saturday before starting on Opening Day in San Diego on March 28. Bumgarner said he expects to taper his pitch count and go about four innings in his final exhibition start.