D-backs get 'statement' win behind aggressive Bumgarner
PHOENIX -- One day after watching his team suffer what he termed an "emotional" loss to the Rockies, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo showed up to Chase Field on Saturday morning still a bit salty over the previous night's shenanigans.
Lovullo was upset when a pitch sailed behind Daulton Varsho in the bottom of the fifth inning Friday in apparent retaliation for the D-backs hitting Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron for the seventh time in two seasons in the top half of the inning.
More than that, Lovullo was interested in seeing how his team, riding a three-game losing streak, responded with a quick turnaround for a day game.
He had to like what he saw as Madison Bumgarner tossed seven strong innings, matching his season high, and allowed just two runs in a 9-2 D-backs win.
"It was a really good response to something that hasn't been going our way over the past three games," Lovullo said. "I think this team was a little frustrated walking in the clubhouse doors today, and they went out and executed a really good game plan and made some statements all day long. It came at a perfect time. I know you guys know there was some emotion here in this ballpark yesterday. Surely you felt it for me postgame. These guys came out and did what they had to do to make a statement."
There was plenty to like about the Arizona offense, particularly Josh Rojas, who continued his hot hitting of late with a 3-for-5 game that included a bunt single, two doubles and three RBIs.
The best news for the D-backs going forward, though, was the performance by Bumgarner. After his last start -- an 8-3 win over his former team, the Giants -- he lamented the fact that he had only gone five innings. It was the third start in a row in which he had logged five or fewer innings.
"Definitely I'm trying to rearrange that and fix it, because I'm not getting paid to go five innings every time," Bumgarner said after that start.
Instead, he's getting paid to be the leader of the pitching staff, and he filled that role Saturday by stepping in when his team -- with a tired bullpen -- desperately needed a win.
"I earned my paycheck a little more today," Bumgarner said.
One of the things Bumgarner changed up a bit for this start was making even more of an effort to be aggressive in the strike zone early in counts, instead of trying to be too perfect with his pitches.
"It's funny because it led probably to making better pitches by doing that," Bumgarner said.
Being aggressive in the zone led to more balls being put in play and fewer strikeouts. Bumgarner struck out just two batters through six innings.
Lovullo elected to send Bumgarner back out for the seventh at 94 pitches, and the veteran made the move look genius by striking out the side to give himself five punchouts on the day.
"To sit them down like that, three strikeouts in a row, is pretty sick," Rojas said of Bumgarner.
Bumgarner allowed six hits and did not walk a batter.
"He just makes good pitches," Rockies outfielder Yonathan Daza said. "He doesn’t miss a lot. But his velocity is up more consistently than last year, and his pitches are moving better.”
It's a trend the D-backs are hoping continues.
"I think his last three innings were his best innings that I've seen since he's been here," Lovullo said.