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Tired bullpen? No problem, says Bumgarner

@goodforball
April 13, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Probably just one person left Oracle Park on Saturday believing that Madison Bumgarner had failed: himself. That sentiment reflected the high standards that Bumgarner regularly sets for himself. Though the left-hander didn’t reach his pregame objective of pitching at least eight innings, he goaded himself through seven

SAN FRANCISCO -- Probably just one person left Oracle Park on Saturday believing that Madison Bumgarner had failed: himself.

That sentiment reflected the high standards that Bumgarner regularly sets for himself. Though the left-hander didn’t reach his pregame objective of pitching at least eight innings, he goaded himself through seven authoritative innings. That propelled him to his first victory of the season as the Giants defeated the Colorado Rockies, 5-2.

The Giants (7-9) clinched their first winning series of the season with their third triumph in a row over the Rockies.

“I think we’re going to be a good team in the [National League West] division,” Bumgarner said. “I’m excited about it, for sure.”

San Francisco needed a durable performance from Bumgarner in the wake of Friday night’s 18-inning marathon. Giants manager Bruce Bochy used every reliever in the 3-2 triumph over Colorado. Bumgarner’s status as the staff ace obligated him to work into the late innings.

Joking only slightly, Bumgarner told Bochy before the game that he could endure throwing 140 pitches.

“That wasn’t going to happen,” Bochy said. “But he was sending a message.”

It was a message that conveyed Bumgarner’s characteristic toughness.

“I don’t feel like I did enough,” Bumgarner said. “In my mind, eight [innings] was the minimum for a day like today. ... You have to take care of your bullpen.”

In Bochy’s opinion, Bumgarner fulfilled his role.

“Bum did what we were looking for,” Bochy said.

Bumgarner displayed his elite form, walking none and striking out seven while liberally mixing cutters and curveballs. Proving he can still blow away hitters, he flung a 93 mph fastball past Nolan Arenado in the sixth inning for a called third strike, stranding a runner on third base.

Overall, San Francisco’s relief corps was indeed fatigued. Asked how many members of the bullpen were unavailable, Bochy said, “Pretty much all of them, except for the two you saw.”

That pair consisted of right-handers Reyes Moronta and Sam Dyson. Moronta struck out the side after Chris Iannetta’s eighth-inning leadoff double chased Bumgarner with the Giants clinging to a 3-2 advantage.

“He started to leave some pitches over the plate there towards the end,” said Colorado’s Mark Reynolds, who homered off Bumgarner in the seventh inning. “But he’s a battler, man. We’ve faced him for a long time. Today he was keeping his slider down, hitting his spots, throwing his backdoor cutter pretty well, mixing his changeup in just to get us off hitter’s counts. He pitched a great game.”

Dyson pitched a perfect ninth for his first save, sealing Colorado’s eighth consecutive loss and 12th defeat in its last 13 games.

Losers in seven of Bumgarner’s eight previous starts dating back to last year, the Giants complemented his effectiveness with a balanced effort. Buster Posey went 2-for-4 and recorded his first RBI of the season with a third-inning double. Kevin Pillar drove in two of San Francisco’s runs with a fifth-inning homer and a third-inning sacrifice fly. He has four homers and 12 RBIs in his last six games.

Defensively, left fielder Gerardo Parra and right fielder Steven Duggar each robbed Arenado of bloop hits. Third baseman Evan Longoria turned in a sparkling play on Yonathan Daza’s third-inning bunt.

In the ninth inning, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and second baseman Joe Panik went to their knees to handle difficult grounders.

“That’s something that has to be constant,” Bochy said of San Francisco’s defense.

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.