On most occasions, a one-hitter is a one-hitter, which is pretty damn good. But this wasn't most. This was, once again, Madison Bumgarner going into the very late innings with a perfect game. Tonight there were four outs to go when a clean single up the middle spoiled perfection. Still, it was more than a one-hitter. It was a game without Bumgarner allowing a walk or the Giants making an error. It was perfect, except for one batter.
It's a weird thing to listen to. The announcers have little to say when every single Padres player is 0 for 1 or 0 for 2, and eventually 0 for 3. But for awhile it wasn't the story to get excited about. The Giants once again beat up on the Padres offensively. They did it exclusively with singles last night in a 9-1 win--which was, by the way, a 2 hitter for Jake Peavy. But tonight they had singles, double, triples and homers by Pagan and Belt. One of those triples was almost an inside the park homer. The Giants scored 8 runs. (Once again, no Crawford or Panik in the lineup, and Blanco is out as well, with a concussion.)
But by the 7th there was just one story, and the eyes of baseball all over the country were turning towards San Francisco. And then with one swing, perfection was over. And Madison Bumgarner had merely thrown a one-hit shutout complete game, for his 18th win of the season, matching his personal best of last year's regular season. It was his third one-hitter, and the second one in two years that was perfect until very late in the game.
Sure, it's that time of year when teams clearly out of it are experimenting with minor leaguers they brought up. And the Giants pitcher do tend to throw no-nos against the Padres. But the Giants are only 8-6 v. the Padres by my count, overall this year. So these are still real games.
Big moment of the night on Friday: manager and former pitcher Bruce Bochy had sent his son and (until recently) minor league pitcher Brett Bochy in for some relief work in the ninth. Brett was doing well, got the first two outs, but gave up a hit and hit a batter. The elder Bochy had other relievers who needed work, so he took his walk out to the mound, intending to take Brett out.
Now fellow old timers will recall that managers used to make multiple trips to the mound before the rule was changed to allow them only two visits per pitcher, meaning the second time the pitcher had to be taken out. These days you seldom see a manager go to the mound except to take the pitcher out. But he doesn't have to.
The fans knew what it meant when dad headed out to the mound, and they booed him. They wanted to see Brett pitch some more. Bruce Bochy heard them, and with an eight run lead, he told his son, you get one more batter. He walked back to the dugout to the cheers. Brett struck out the batter to end the game. Hello Hollywood!
Meanwhile, things are REALLY getting interesting in the NL Central, as the Cards continue to skid while the Pirates are winning. Today the Bucs won while both the Cards and Cubs lost. The Bucs blowout over the Brewers included a pinch hit grand slam by former Giants playoff hero Michael Morse. The Pirates are just 2.5 games out of first.