By Doug Bruzzone
Special to S.F. Examiner
ORACLE PARK — Madison Bumgarner turned in a dominant performance, Kevin Pillar went 4-for-5 with five RBIs, and the San Francisco offense piled on late, as the Giants secured their first winning month in a year with a 10-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon.
“It was vintage Bum,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “…He used his changeup a little bit today, so four pitches he had going, and gave us what we needed: length in the game and allowed us to work the pen like we wanted to.”
Bumgarner did disagree with one aspect of that, though.
“I’m not really a fan of that ‘vintage’ deal,” Bumgarner said a few minutes after Bochy talked, later adding that the word, “makes it sound like you’re old. I’m not old.”
Bumgarner also made history, tying Tim Lincecum for second place on San Francisco’s all-time strikeout list when he finished his day by fanning Carson Kelly on a 91 mph fastball to end the top of the seventh inning. It was Bumgarner’s 1,704th career strikeout, and since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958, only Juan Marichal has racked up more for the Giants.
“It’s pretty incredible,” Bumgarner said. “This organization has been around a long time and a lot of great players have come through here, so to be up on that list is pretty special.”
The Giants finished June with a record of 14-13, their first winning month since June of 2018, which they finished 18-10. For San Francisco’s fans, it was a welcome change from April, when they went 11-15, and May, when they went 10-16.
San Francisco was able to get to Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray early. Although the Giants’ first-inning rally was snuffed out when Brandon Belt was thrown out at home trying to score on a Buster Posey double, they came right back in the second. Evan Longoria led off the inning with a walk, and then Pillar blasted a two-run homer into the left field bleachers.
They struck again in the fourth, and again Pillar was the driving force. Belt, Tyler Austin and Posey combined to load the bases with one out. Longoria then struck out looking, leaving things up to Pillar, who blooped a single just over Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed’s outstretched glove, extending the Giants lead to 4-0.
“Great day,” Bochy said about Pillar. “Five RBIs. He got us on the board there with the two-run homer. His last out was hard too. He really swung the bat well. Came through in the clutch with big hits, so a huge day for him.”
“It’s obviously special,” Pillar said about his first career five-RBI day. “You play this game long enough, you’re gonna get an opportunity to do some things in this game you’ve never done before. The RBIs … obviously one person gets credited with driving in the runs, but it takes a lot of guys getting on base in order for you to drive in runs. That’s what we did a good job of today. I just made the most of opportunities driving in runs.”
Bumgarner took it the rest of the way. On a day when teammate Will Smith was named theGiants’ representative in the All-Star game, Bumgarner showed why he is a four-time All-Star himself.
Bumgarner gave up a run in the fifth on an Ahmed triple and a sacrifice fly, but on the afternoon, he was, whether he likes the term or not, vintage Bumgarner. In seven innings, he gave up just four hits and one run, striking out nine and not allowing a walk.
“He’s right there [at the top of his game],” Bochy said. “You look at the stuff, the numbers … He’s really pitched well. Once we got through April, you just saw him getting better once we hit May. He’s throwing the ball outstanding. What a great start, and a much-needed quality start for this club.”
The Diamondbacks, who came into the game with a 7-2 record against Bumgarner in San Francisco since 2015, were thoroughly dominated by the big Giants lefty who, along with Smith, is expected to be one of the team’s big trade pieces in July. His resurgence – don’t call it vintage – will only serve to help the Giants’ chances of getting impact players in return in what looks to be an inevitable trade.
The Giants blew the game open in the bottom of the seventh inning. After Belt, Alex Dickerson, and Posey loaded the bases on two walks and a single, the next five Giants hitters – Longoria, Pillar, Mike Yastrzemski, Joe Panik and Pablo Sandoval – each drove in at least one run, with Yastrzemski plating two on a double.
“Buster had three hits, but [everybody] did something, whether it was knock in a run or help contribute,” Bochy said. “It’s nice to break out. No getting around that. it’s been a while since we had this type of game offensively, so good for those guys.”
But it was Madison Bumgarner’s game, and he looked just like he did in his best years, even if he wanted people to avoid the V-word.
“Still not a fan of vintage,” Bumgarner said. “When I’m 40, you can say vintage.”