PHOENIX — With two on, two outs and two strikes in the seventh, Madison Bumgarner took a pitch he felt was a ball. It was nearly four inches off the plate, per tracking data. Jerry Meals the home plate umpire, rung him up.
Bumgarner stood at the plate for a few seconds and politely disagreed with Meals, an umpire he said he likes and respects. He said what he needed to and then he got ready to return to the mound. Later, Bumgarner said it’s not a call he’ll lose sleep over, even though it was a pretty big one in a 2-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.
“I enjoy the human element of the game,” Bumgarner said. “I’m not an advocate for the stupid electronic strike zone. I don’t even like replay. I wish we could get back to the way we used to play. We won’t, but that’s just my opinion.”
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Bumgarner is old school, and Saturday was yet another old school performance from the big lefty. He threw 109 pitches on a scorching night while allowing just two runs over seven innings. He struck out seven and walked just one. He had the hardest contact off Taijuan Walker until Jarrett Parker’s fourth-inning homer. Bumgarner followed his early liner to right with one to left that was 20 feet foul of being his third homer at Chase Field in two starts.
It was the kind of night that reminds you of all Bumgarner was and still is after a dirt bike accident. Bruce Bochy saw it, too, and he wasn’t about to send up a pinch-hitter in the game’s big spot. Bumgarner homered off Andrew Chafin on opening day. Bochy gave him another shot.
“I didn’t want him to come out of that game with it 2-1, and he’s a pretty good hitter,” Bochy said. “Unfortunately he had a pretty tough pitch called in that at-bat. He had no chance on that pitch. That’s a bad break. He’s a pretty good hitter and he shortens his swing with two strikes. He saw it good and he saw it as a ball, but the call went (the Diamondbacks’) way.”
Asked about the pitch, Bumgarner paused. “I would have liked for the results to be different, I’ll say that,” he offered.
San Francisco Giants
All three runs on this night came on homers, and in that respect, the old fashioned pitcher’s duel was a very 2017 baseball game. It’s the age of the home run, and Bumgarner was done in by two. A.J Pollock and J.D. Martinez took him deep.
“That’s the game today,” Bochy said. “During BP, you look at the homers being hit, it’s incredible. In today’s game, it looks like over 50 guys will have 30 homers (this season). It’s part of the game. In this ballpark, two solo homers is a great job. That’s what you’re dealing with now.”
The Giants have fallen behind in that department, but they still have the most powerful pitcher in the game. A bad call cost him a chance to show that swing off, but Bumgarner stuck to his guns. Don’t ask him to get on board with robot umps.
“Jerry has always been really good for me,” Bumgarner said. “We’re both humans.”