PHOENIX -- The Giants are all too familiar with the Madison Bumgarner who showed up at Chase Field.
He was efficient and workmanlike for seven strong innings in the 3-1 victory. The performance was reminiscent of the veteran’s days in San Francisco where he became a legend, even if, as he later admitted, it still feels odd to face his former team.
“I don’t know, it just felt strange,” Bumgarner said after the game. “I really don’t know what else to say about it. It’s weird.”
What’s certain is that the D-backs, who signed the left-hander to a five-year deal in 2019, are going to need the veteran to continue pitching well this season and into the future if the club expects to survive in the competitive National League West.
Tuesday was another good start. The D-backs want more.
“Tonight was Bum’s night,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We won this game because of Madison Bumgarner.”
Bumgarner gave up only one run on six hits Tuesday. He struck out four and did not walk a batter. The secret to his success was really no secret at all. During the postgame interview, the pitcher was asked what was working for him on the mound.
“Mostly everything,” Bumgarner quipped. “We were moving the ball around good, throwing all four pitches and everything was pretty good. The command was good, that's the main thing.”
Bumgarner is healthy and on a roll. He allowed only two runs in seven innings against the Rangers in his previous start and has pitched at least five innings in the four starts since coming off of a six-week stint on the injured list because of left shoulder inflammation.
“He's battled some injuries and he's worked hard to get through those and it's nice to see him in a good space right now,” Lovullo said. “And I know that there's been a certain degree of frustration with not being able to stay healthy, but I'll take tonight.”
Bumgarner will take it, too.
“I just want to do everything I can do to help this team win,” he said. “It's been more than tough this year, for sure, but that's just part of it. I look forward to doing whatever I can to make this process go as fast as I can and as smooth as it can to try to turn things around here.”
Bumgarner has been around long enough to know he can’t do it alone. He had help Tuesday.
D-backs first baseman Christian Walker led off the second inning with a single off Giants starter Johnny Cueto and scored when Nick Ahmed followed with a double, his 19th of the season, to put the D-backs ahead, 1-0. Bumgarner then walked on six pitches to set the stage for one of the most unusual plays in baseball.
After the first pitch to Asdrúbal Cabrera, home-plate umpire Chris Guccione called Giants catcher Curt Casali for an error after the catcher took off his mask and used it to stop the ball. Ahmed and Bumgarner advanced to the next base. Cabrera followed with a double that scored them both to push the D-backs ahead 3-0.
“The home-plate umpire got it right. I thought he did a good job,” Lovullo said. “The catcher clearly dragged the ball back with his mask and you can't use it.”
The inning changed the course of the game and Bumgarner made the lead stick. He was relieved by Tyler Gilbert, who made his Major League debut, to start the eighth. The rookie proceeded to strike out two of the three batters he faced in a scoreless inning.
Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless ninth.
“It couldn't have been a better night for us on the mound,” Lovullo said. “Offensively, things worked really well. We scored those three runs and made it stand up. Our pitchers really made tonight happen.”