Bumgarner blanks Braves, tosses two-hitter in 6-0 win
Madison Bumgarner was magic on the mound Friday in Georgia in front of 40 of his closest family and friends.
The former South Caldwell High and current San Francisco Giants pitcher tossed a two-hit gem in a 6-0 victory against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
Bumgarner spoke after Friday's game that he knew "after the first out" of his potential perfect game and no-hit performances.
"My command felt good," Bumgarner said. "The fastball and cutter combination felt good. We threw most of that. We threw some curve balls and change ups. They felt pretty good tonight, too, but it was mostly the fastball and cutter that saved the day."
Entering this season, Bumgarner was 1-3 lifetime against Atlanta (39-28) in five starts, including one no decision.
His only victory against the Braves came in his first-ever start against them — a 1-0 shutout on Oct. 11, 2010 during the National League Division Series.
That victory put Bumgarner into the Giants' record books as the youngest San Francisco pitcher to play in and win a postseason game.
Bumgarner's bad luck against the Braves so far in his career changed this season on May 11.
He struck out 11 batters in that seven-inning appearance, allowing four hits, two walks and an earned run in a 10-1 home victory.
"I think I've just caught them at good times for me," Bumgarner said of his performances recently against Atlanta. "I felt good earlier in the year when I faced them. I've kind of had some rough starts here. We've been trying to get it together. I was able to come out today and felt good. I had good life on the ball. I was making good pitches and hitting spots. I think that is just maybe a little bit of luck and a little bit of catching (the Braves) at the right time."
Giants leadoff hitter and former Atlanta Brave Gregor Blanco enacted some revenge on his former club.
Blanco homered for the first time this season in the first at bat of Friday's game, taking a pitch from Atlanta starting pitcher Kris Medlin deep to right-center field on a 2-1 count to put the Giants ahead 1-0.
One inning later, Blanco singled to shallow right field, bringing home Joaquin Arias for his second and final RBI of the game.
Doubles by a couple of Giants players in the middle of the contest helped pad San Francisco's slim lead.
Hunter Pence's double just in front of Atlanta center fielder Justin Upton gave the Giants a three-run edge in the third.
Two innings later, another two-base knock — this time by shortstop Brandon Crawford — made it 4-0 advantage for San Francisco.
The hits by Pence and Crawford were part of 11 total hits by the Giants in Friday's contest.
Medlin exited after six innings, allowing nine hits, four runs (all earned) and no walks. He also struck out four Giants batters.
San Francisco (35-31) took advantage of the Braves bullpen immediately, scoring two runs on reliever Alex Wood — an RBI double by catcher Buster Posey and another on a bases loaded balk.
Posey appeared to feed off of Bumgarner's pitching performance from behind the plate.
"All four pitches (Bumgarner) threw for the most part were where he wanted to the whole night," Posey said.
Entering Friday's game with 16 doubles on the season, Posey tallied a trio of two-baggers in the contest, including an RBI double in the seventh.
Posey recently moved up to the No. 3 spot in the San Francisco batting order, which doesn't appear to have bothered him one bit.
"You try to get runners on base and then when you get a chance to cash them in, do it," Posey said. "Blanco's two-out RBI was a big hit and obviously his homer. We just keep pressuring their defense."
Atlanta's B.J. Upton drew a walk on five pitches with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning to end Bumgarner's chance at a perfect game.
One inning later, Bumgarner's opportunity at a no-hitter was also erased on a bloop single by Chris Johnson to shallow center field.
After both plays, Bumgarner kept his focus and composure on the mound.
"You can't start thinking about that," Bumgarner said of both potential feats. "You've just got to start focusing on the next guy pitch by pitch."
Bumgarner would give up one more hit — a single from Freddie Freeman in the seventh inning — before exiting from the mound.
The former top-10 MLB Draft pick finished the day giving up two hits, no runs, one walk and striking out 10 batters with 108 pitches — 68 for strikes and 38 for balls.
"It feels good," Bumgarner said of his performance. "We're not catching any breaks right now. We've all got to start locking it in coming up on the second half here if we want to make a playoff push. Everyone knows that. We're starting to turn it around. It feels good."
Giants reliever Sandy Rosario closed out the final two innings of the game, allowing only one more base knock to shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the ninth inning, to seal his team's three-hit shutout.
It was the second-straight game that San Francisco allowed no runs after blanking Pittsburgh 10-0 on Thursday night.
The Braves are now tied with the Miami Marlins for the most shutouts by a Major League Baseball team with nine.
Atlanta and San Francisco continue the three-game intraleague series on Saturday with game two at 4:05 p.m.
The two teams play the third and final game in a nightcap on Sunday, which is scheduled for an 8:05 p.m. first pitch.