Bumgarner subdues Dodgers with eight-inning gem
LOS ANGELES -- Madison Bumgarner's first pitch Tuesday night was a strike. So were most of the remaining 100 he threw.
After being subdued by Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day, the Giants reversed their fortunes as Bumgarner gave the reigning World Series champions their first victory of the year. Displaying remarkable precision, Bumgarner limited the Dodgers to two hits in eight innings in San Francisco's 3-0 triumph.
This didn't quite match Gaylord Perry and Ray Washburn pitching back-to-back no-hitters in September 1968 at Candlestick Park. But it was along those lines as Bumgarner followed Kershaw's four-hit shutout with an equally admirable performance.
Bumgarner retired the first five hitters he faced before Andre Ethier doubled. That prompted Bumgarner to record 18 outs in a row, a spell broken by A.J. Ellis' two-out double in the eighth. Undaunted, Bumgarner ended the inning by slipping a called third strike past Nick Punto.
Sergio Romo recorded his first save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
While Bumgarner threw 76 strikes in 101 pitches, his accuracy was as well-timed as it was consistent. Bumgarner threw first-pitch strikes to the first 17 batters he faced and 22 of 26 overall. He issued no walks and didn't reach a three-ball count until he confronted his 19th hitter, Jerry Hairston Jr., in the sixth inning.
"That's the best I've felt in a long time," said Bumgarner, who's 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in his last six starts against the Dodgers.
Forced to protect a 1-0 lead until shortstop Justin Sellers' pair of seventh-inning throwing errors helped the Giants score two unearned runs, Bumgarner responded to the taut score.
"If it's close like that, there's no room for error," he said. "I felt like I was careful and kept the ball out of the middle as much as I could."
Catcher Buster Posey confirmed Bumgarner's view.
"His command on the fastball was outstanding from start to finish and he mixed his pitches really well," Posey said. "He throws the ball inside so well that when he can locate on the outside corner, he's going to be really tough."
Manager Bruce Bochy sensed immediately that the Giants would receive Bumgarner's best. The left-hander threw nine strikes in 11 pitches during the first inning.
"You could tell that he was on top of his game early," Bochy said.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly didn't argue with any of these assessments.
"Madison tonight was kind of exceptional with his control," Mattingly said. "I've never seen him throw quite that many strikes. It seemed like he was ahead of every guy. Obviously he's a guy that's got good stuff. He's deceptive. He's got a good arm. He's got a tough angle for guys to deal with. If he gets the ball to the other side of the plate, he's going to be tough. He's a guy we've had trouble with in the past and tonight in the present also. We're going to have to do a little bit better job with him and make some adjustments."
Facing Hyun-Jin Ryu, the left-hander making his first Major League start after starring for seven seasons in Korean professional ball, the Giants looked goofy at best and ragged at worst on offense. Joaquin Arias, replacing the ill Brandon Belt at first base, collected the team's initial RBI of 2013. Free-swinging Pablo Sandoval coaxed the first walk. The Giants grounded into four double plays, two by Posey. And they still don't have an extra-base hit.
The Giants amassed nine hits, all singles, in the first five innings. But they went only 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position in that span as Ryu induced three double-play grounders.
San Francisco mustered a fourth-inning run, its first of the season, on consecutive one-out singles by Posey, Hunter Pence and Arias.
The Giants seized upon the Dodgers' sloppiness to score a pair of unearned runs in the seventh. Arias opened the inning by reaching first base as Sellers' throw pulled Adrian Gonzalez off the bag. After Andres Torres singled to right, Brandon Crawford's grounder to first advanced the runners. Out went Ryu and in came hard-throwing right-hander Ronald Belisario. Bumgarner met that challenge by hitting a high chopper up the middle. Sellers grabbed the ball and overthrew catcher Ellis as Arias slid home. Belisario compounded the error by forgetting to cover home plate, enabling Torres to score.
"It was a 100 percent team effort," Bumgarner said.
His effort at least equaled that figure.