Madison Bumgarner had reached 96 pitches with two outs in the sixth inning when Eric Hosmer walked to the plate. The bases were filled with Padres, and in the visitor’s dugout D-backs manager Torey Lovullo faced a decision.
Should he leave his left-handed ace, who was making his first appearance with his new team since signing a five-year, $85 million free-agent deal? Or should he go to the bullpen, where right-hander Junior Guerra was ready.
Lovullo stuck with Bumgarner, and Hosmer lifted an 0-2 cut fastball into the gap in right-center field for a three-run double that boosted the Padres toward a 7-2 victory on Friday night in the season opener for both teams at Petco Park.
It wasn’t the result the manager wanted, of course, but the reasoning behind leaving Bumgarner in was solid.
“You know the input he was giving us and everything he was showing us was that he felt good,” Lovullo said on a postgame Zoom call. “You know, once again, you send him back out there -- I want him to finish his innings. I want him to go out and do the things that he does best. So I'm not going to second-guess it. I know that it's easy to do right now, but I'll take that matchup -- left on left with good numbers -- any time.”
Hosmer hit just .231 against lefties last year with a .321 slugging percentage, compared with a .276 batting average with a .460 slugging percentage against righties.
In fact, according to ESPN Stats and Info, Hosmer hit fly balls of 347 or more feet against left-handers just three times last season. On Friday, though, it was a different story, as he hit fly balls of 347-plus feet three times, including the double off Bumgarner and another bases-clearing double in the seventh inning off righty Kevin Ginkel.
Bumgarner was not made available to speak after the game, but catcher Carson Kelly said the pitch Hosmer hit, an 82 mph cut fastball, just caught too much of the plate.
“From the reports and things like that, we had a game plan and stuck to it,” Kelly said via Zoom. “It just didn't work out for us. But you know we trust our guys and our preparation. It just got a lot more of the plate than we wanted it to, and Hosmer put a good swing on it.”
Bumgarner threw 78 pitches in his final tune-up of Summer Camp, a simulated game. At 96 pitches Friday, Lovullo and Kelly both said his stuff was there.
“I felt like he was right in that pitch range where we still felt comfortable,” Lovullo said. “He said he felt good, and it was the right matchup for us. He got him 0-2 and just made a mistake and hung a breaking ball. But he’s our guy; he’s our No. 1 starter. [The score] was 0-0, he’s throwing a shutout and still has pitches left. So the way I look at it is he’s the guy I’m going to go to and rely on in that situation.”
Bumgarner (0-1) allowed three runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Two of the three walks came during the decisive sixth when Tommy Pham and Jurickson Profar drew back-to-back free passes after Bumgarner got ahead of each with a first-pitch strike. In Profar’s case, Bumgarner had him 0-2, but the second baseman managed to push the at-bat to 10 pitches before walking.
“I felt like he looked real good,” Kelly said. “He didn’t have all of his stuff today; I think it was pretty solid stuff. They just got to him in that one inning. We made a couple of mistakes. We let them back into some counts, and we just needed to execute when we needed to. We just didn’t get it done today.”