Madison Bumgarner’s 2014 playoff run — over 50 innings of absolute dominance — is perhaps the greatest postseason pitching performance of all time. And the end of it was the icing on the cake: 4 innings of relief in Kansas City, with Game 7 of the World Series hanging in the balance. Bumgarner made it out intact, San Francisco won, and the whole thing is now the stuff of legend.
But what did it take for the Giants to get to that point? What opportunities did the Royals have to win Game 7? How close did Bumgarner come to blowing it? If you rewind the tape — to earlier in the game, the series, and in fact the whole season, you’ll discover how precarious the circumstances were for Bumgarner’s victorious final moments. And you’ll see how Derek Jeter is kinda sorta involved.
Watch Episode 2 of REWINDER above, and check out Episode 1, on Michael Jordan’s iconic final shot as a Bull here.
SAN FRANCISCO — With the Giants coming home having lost six of their last seven but staying within striking distance in the National League West, they were buoyed by the sight of ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner taking the mound Monday night.
It was only a 20-pitch bullpen session before the Giants began a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T Park, but Bumgarner looks as if he’ll be ready to pitch in late May or early June.
Bumgarner threw all fastballs — he’s been throwing breaking stuff off flat gound — but is optimistic about his recovery from a broken left pinky finger sustained on fielding a comebacker during his last spring training start.
“I feel good,” Bumgarner said. “The only thing now is arm strength and getting the pitch count up. Everything feels good now.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy likes what he sees of Bumgarner’s attitude and progress.
“He’s on his way,” Bochy said. “I think at this point, throwing off the mound, he’ll throw again on Wednesday and then he’ll go Saturday.”
“After Saturday, then he’s giong to throw to hitters in Houton, and then you’ll see him down pitching in the minor leagues,” Bochy said.
The dilemma for the Giants will be whether to give Bumgarner a start with a limited pitch count — Jeff Samardzija was held to 75 under similar circumstances — or wait until his arm strength is such that he could push 100.
“It just depends on if they want me back throwing 60 pitches or 100,” Bumgarner said. “That’s what it comes down to.”
Bochy said he still considers May 25 — the first day Bumgarner as eligible to pitch — as a bit ambitious and he’s hoping for two rehab starts.
It’s been a more aggressive rehab than last year’s injury to his pitching shoulder following a dirt bike accident given the nature of the injury.
“We’re not dealing with an arm injury. It’s a finger,” Bochy said. “That’s why he’s letting go like he is right now. If you watched the bullpen today, you’d think he was making his next start. that’s where he’s at . . . you’ve got to build some stamina and strength because he hasn’t been throwing that much.”
Bumgarner spent part of Monday’s pregame working with pitchers on their bunting and although he’s getting close to returning, his frustrating at his second protracted absence in two seasons.
“Yeah, I mean, it sucks,” Bumgarner said. “That’s two years in a row. Last year was obviously my fault, those emotions are a little different. This year, just a freak thing on the last day of spring, and such a small thing at that.
“It’s amazing how much that pinky can effect, not just baseball but every day life too. I’m definitely ready to get back out there.”
Of some consolation is that although the Giants lost six straight before beating Pittsburgh Sunday, they returned home just 4 1/2 games out of first place — after starting the trip five games out. They remained in third place the entire time.
“We’ve played 10 days, two weeks, where we look really good, and then we have some that look the exact opposite of that,” Bumgarner said. “It’s still the early part of the season. The guys are probably going to put it together at the right time for us.”
Said Bochy: “We were fortunate, in our division, other teams are going through their issues too. That’s a good thing. But you look at the other side, we could have made up a lot of ground had we played better. We didn’t and that’s what happens and what you’ve got to deal with in this game.”
— Alen Hanson, the second baseman who provided a spark when Joe Panik was lost to a left thumb sprain, was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a hamstring strain and Austin Slater was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento.
Slater was hitting .386 in 24 games for Sacramento. He’s an outfielder who can play the corner infield positions and also has played second base.
Bochy indicated another infielder would be arriving soon.
“We thought (Hanson’s hamstring) was so mild it would be a couple days, but he had an MRI today and they’re guessing 10 to 14 (days) and we’re hoping for the lesser, trust me,” Bochy said. “This kid was really playing some great ball. Good second base, providing power, speed, he was doing a nice job.”
Slater said he wasn’t sure what the plan was, noting, “It’s still very fluid. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on.”
— Relief pitcher Mark Melancon, like Bumgarner eligible to return May 25, threw a 25-pitch bullpen session.
“Mark threw all his pitches,” Melancon said. “He wasn’t hesitant on anything. We’ll see how he comes out of it. He’s close to facing live hitters, too.”
PITTSBURGH–Madison Bumgarner needed four rehab starts to work his way back from a sprained shoulder last season, but the Giants can’t afford to have their ace on the shelf much longer.
Bumgarner is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list on May 25, and even though he has yet to throw a bullpen, the Giants are optimistic the left-hander will return to the rotation shortly after that date.
Bumgarner had surgery to repair a fractured pinky at the end of spring training and had three pins removed from his pitching hand on April 19.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner will throw his first bullpen since his injury on Monday at AT&T Park. The Giants expect Bumgarner to face live hitters for the first time when the team travels to Houston on May 22.
Bochy said the 10th-year Major League veteran could need just one rehab start after he faces hitters before the Giants are ready for Bumgarner to rejoin the rotation.
Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner flew Monday night to Arizona to consult with hand specialist Dr. Donald Sheridan in hopes of being given the go-ahead to start throwing as he continues to recover from a broken little finger on his throwing hand, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“If all goes well,” manager Bruce Bochy told reporters, Bumgarner would begin throwing on flat ground this week and it likely will be another two weeks before he advances to throwing bullpen sessions.
The broken finger has sidelined Bumgarner all season.
Doctors removed three pins from his hand April 19. He is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list May 25, although it’s unlikely he would be ready to pitch in the majors at that point.
The continuing plan: Bumgarner will need to build his arm strength, throw off a mound, throw to live hitters and presumably make at least two rehab starts in the minors. For all that to happen, even if he starts playing catch this week, would be a tight timeline.
Bumgarner, 104-76 in his career, had double-digit victories from 2011-16 but in an injury-plagued 2017 season fell to 4-9 with a 3.32 ERA, the first time his season ERA was above 3.00 since 2012.
The Giants are 15-14 in his absence and in second place in the NL West entering Tuesday’s play, but four pitchers — Jeff Samardzija, Derek Holland, Andrew Suarez and Tyler Beede — have shared the last spot in the team’s rotation and are a combined 1-6.
Madison Bumgarner had pins removed from the broken pinkie on his pitching hand Thursday, and the San Francisco Giants are hopeful that their ace can start playing catch in the next two weeks.
“He’s coming along, he’s got a cast or splint on there but I know he’s excited to get those things out,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters Thursday.
The 28-year-old lefty was injured March 23 when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield in his spring training outing prior to Opening Day.
Bochy remains optimistic that Bumgarner will be able to return to rotation in June. The 2014 World Series MVP is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 25.
“Knowing him, how hard he’s going to work,” Bochy said. “It all depends when he starts throwing. He’s a ways away, probably two weeks before you start playing catch.”
Bumgarner had a 3.43 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 21 innings this spring.
San Francisco has yet to win a series this season.