He retired 14 consecutive batters to begin the evening, prompting thoughts of a no-hitter or even a perfect game. He struck out 10 of the first 13 Padres he faced, making him a legitimate threat to challenge Jason Schmidt's single-game franchise record of 16, which the right-hander established on June 6, 2006, against the Marlins.
Ultimately, all of these prizes eluded Bumgarner in his 7 1/3-inning stint. He didn't even receive a decision, departing after yielding Will Venable's two-run double that tied the score, 2-2. Nevertheless, Bumgarner had AT&T Park abuzz for most of his performance, and for good reason.
Bumgarner's streak of three straight eight-inning outings ended. But he lasted long enough to strike out 14, matching the highest total amassed by a left-hander since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958. Atlee Hammaker also struck out 14 on Sept. 11, 1983, against Houston. Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell had 15 back in the Gotham days, on May 26, 1932, in 12 innings against the Dodgers.
Bumgarner also eclipsed his personal best of 13, which he reached twice, His double-digit strikeout total was his third of the season and 22nd of his career. According to ESPN Stats and Info, he became the first National League pitcher to assemble a one-walk, 14-strikeout game but not get a decision since Mark Prior of the Cubs on Sept. 30, 2004.
Bumgarner didn't sound overly impressed with himself.
"I don't care if I strike out a lot of guys or not," he said. "Today just happened to be that way."
Bumgarner was especially effective against the top of San Diego's batting order. Derek Norris, Justin Upton and Matt Kemp, the Padres' 2-3-4 hitters, each struck out in all three of their plate appearances against Bumgarner.
None of this was enough to prevent the Giants from losing their 10th home game in 11 tries. Though Bumgarner hardly could be faulted for the setback, he lamented allowing Venable's opposite-field hit to left.
"It was what I wanted to throw -- a fastball out over the plate and up," Bumgarner said of the fateful 0-1 delivery. "Most lefties will swing and miss at that, but he got on top of it and slapped it down the line. I don't regret throwing it. It works a lot more often than it don't."
Something similar could be said of Bumgarner's overall effectiveness. In his last three starts, which span 23 1/3 innings, he has struck out 30 while walking five and allowing 18 hits. His ERA in this stretch is 1.93.