Bumgarner becomes first pitcher to hit two homers on Opening Day

Bumgarner becomes first pitcher to hit two homers on Opening Day

PHOENIX — This collection of Giants is a confident group, but also a somewhat stoic one. They have plenty of fun behind closed doors, but this roster does not generally flip bats or engage in raucous dugout celebrations or skip off the mound. 

There was no hiding the emotion, however, when Madison Bumgarner hit his second homer Sunday. Some players in the dugout stared at Bumgarner, seemingly asking, “How the bleep did you do that?” Others smiled. Most laughed. 

“For us in the dugout, we’re just kind of shaking our heads,” catcher Buster Posey said. “It’s not supposed to be that easy. He kind of makes it look easy, but there’s a method to his madness. See what I did there? Mad-ness. He works at it. He takes it seriously.”

Bumgarner worked religiously this spring to improve his approach against breaking balls, and that seemed prudent his first time up. With a 3-2 count, Zack Greinke threw him a slider and then missed with a curveball that sent Bumgarner jogging down to first. It is the way Bumgarner has been pitched, even by the game’s best, for a couple of years, but if you make a mistake with your fastball, he is still waiting to pounce.

Greinke did in the fifth, and Bumgarner blasted a low liner into the seats in left, the ball never getting more than 55 feet off the ground. In the seventh, Andrew Chafin fell behind 2-0 and served one up at 92 mph. It left at 112 mph, landing 422 feet away. 

Bumgarner became the all-time franchise leader in homers for a pitcher (16) and extended his lead among active pitchers. He is the only pitcher to homer twice on Opening Day. He joined Giancarlo Stanton as the only MLB players to hit two homers at 112+ mph in one game during the Statcast era. 

“I try to be pretty level-headed and even-keeled,” he said. “Obviously it’s pretty special to do that, but my job out there is on the mound. That’s what my main concern is.”

Bumgarner was pretty dominant there, too. The man who is forever flirting with his first no-hitter took a perfect game into the sixth. The game unraveled quickly, but Bumgarner tipped his cap to A.J. Pollock, who took him deep to left for a two-run homer. 

The flurry did some damage to Bumgarner’s final line, but in his first start, at a park that plays the way Chase Field does with the roof open, he didn't do much wrong. Bumgarner was charged with three runs in seven innings. He struck out 11 and walked none while throwing 88 pitches. 

The most important number may have come on the radar gun. Bumgarner does not often worry about velocity, but an increase is a sign of proper mechanics, and after maxing out at 93.0 mph in 2016, he hit 94.3 on Sunday and repeatedly pounded fastballs that registered in the 94 mph range. 

“This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” he said. “That’s the adjustment in my delivery that I’ve been working on for a long time. It definitely was coming out good today.” 

After many of his starts the last two seasons, Bumgarner has insisted that his mechanics were not nearly as perfect as he wanted them to be. Asked on Sunday, he smiled and offered only that, “I’m a lot closer than where I was.”

“The struggle is once you get it, to keep hold of it and not lose it,” Bumgarner added. 

If this version of Bumgarner — with slightly cleaner mechanics and increased velocity — shows up all year, the Giants could once again have a Cy Young Award winner atop their rotation. If he keeps hitting for power, you’re talking about a potential MVP. Bumgarner has consistently added to his value on the mound with wondrous moments at the plate, and seven innings into his 2017 season, he’s already 40 percent of the way to his career-high for homers. In his first plate appearance, he added a walk.

“I was hoping his spot would come up again (before he was taken out) so he could get one more at-bat to go for three homers,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

The idea of a pitcher hitting three homers should be absurd. But teammates won’t rule anything out with Bumgarner, not after a day like Sunday. They’ve learned to stay out of the way and simply enjoy the show. 

“I just laughed,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “You expect him to get one every once in a while. You don’t expect him to get two the first day. There’s not much you can say. I just laughed. It’s pretty cool to watch a pitcher do that.”

Bumgarner’s first multi-homer game put him in elite company. He joined Bob Elliott, Willie Mays, Matt Williams and Barry Bonds as Giants who have hit two homers on Opening Day. Speaking after a tough loss, he shrugged all that off, saying he tries to think along with the pitcher but he was fortunate to get pitches he could handle. 

“That’s something you look back on when you’re done playing,” he said of his historic day. “Right now, I’m not concerned about that.”

Dodgers add to riches, acquire Mets slugger in trade


Dodgers add to riches, acquire Mets slugger in trade

NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired outfielder Curtis Granderson and cash from the New York Mets for a player to be named later or cash.

The teams announced the deal after their games Friday night. The 36-year-old Granderson is hitting .228 with 19 home runs and 52 RBIs this year.

Los Angeles is running away with the NL West. The Dodgers are 86-34 after Friday's win at Detroit . Granderson gives Los Angeles another option for the outfield along with Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson.

Pederson has been struggling quite a bit of late, hitting .149 since the All-Star break. Granderson, like Pederson, offers some power from the left side of the plate.

Giants pound Phillies in blowout win, Moore pitches into eighth


Giants pound Phillies in blowout win, Moore pitches into eighth


SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Moore took a one-hitter into the eighth inning and picked up his first win in nearly two months as the San Francisco Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 10-2 on Friday night.

Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford both homered, Pablo Sandoval had an RBI single and Denard Span added three hits and made a nice running catch in center field to help San Francisco to its ninth win in the last 12 games at AT&T Park.

One day after becoming the first team in major league history to reach 11,000 wins as a franchise, the Giants added on by beating the worst team in baseball again.

Moore (4-12) was crisp in his second straight strong start despite four walks, allowing two hits over 7 1/3 innings to win for the first time since June 20.

Four relievers combined for five outs to complete the four-hitter.

Jorge Alfaro singled twice and scored for Philadelphia.

Pence doubled and scored as part of a three-run first inning, then hit his 11th home run in the second.

Crawford tacked on with a two-run home run in the third, his 10th, after Sandoval walked. Crawford, who also doubled in the eighth, had been in a 2-for-22 slump.

Philadelphia didn't get a runner past second base until the eighth when Freddy Galvis singled in both runs.

Zach Elfin (1-5) allowed six runs on seven hits over five innings for the Phillies. He has lost two of three starts since a two-month stint in the minors.


Phillies: Manager Pete Mackanin's ballclub was one player short after the team placed OF Odubel Herrera on the disabled list with a hamstring injury in a move that is retroactive to Aug. 15. Herrera has a 17-game hitting streak that is the longest active in the majors. A corresponding move is expected before Saturday's game.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto threw 50 pitches in a bullpen session and could begin a rehab assignment early next week. Cueto also threw a 50-pitch bullpen during the team's recent three-game series in Miami. ... 1B Brandon Belt (concussion) and 2B Joe Panik (concussion symptoms) both did cardio work before the game.


Phillies RHP Jerad Eickoff (3-7, 4.45 ERA) makes his second start against the Giants this season Saturday while San Francisco counters with LHP Ty Blach (8-8, 4.37 ERA). Blach blanked Philadelphia with a seven-hitter on June 2.