SAN FRANCISCO -- If tonight’s pitching matchup of Madison Bumgarner vs. Nationals right-hander Doug Fister sounds familiar to Giants fans, it should. It’s a rematch of Game 2 of the 2012 World Series, when Fister was pitching for the Detroit Tigers and was out-dueled by Bumgarner in a 2-0 Giants win at AT&T Park.
Bumgarner threw seven innings in the shutout, allowing two hits and striking out eight. Fister allowed just one run -- which only scored after he’d been taken out of the game with a man on base -- and is maybe better remembered from that start for taking a line drive off the head from Gregor Blanco.
The ball ricocheted off Fister’s head into center field in a scary moment, but Fister stayed in the game and reported no ill effects after the game. Neither starter, of course, pitched again in the Series, as the Giants won in a sweep.
It’s easy to forget now, but Bumgarner was not pitching well before the Series began -- in fact, he was passed over in the rotation late in the NLCS after giving up six runs in 3 2/3 innings in his first start against the Cardinals. That followed a bad start against the Reds in the division series, when he allowed four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
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Manager Bruce Bochy was asked today to recall what kind of adjustment Bumgarner made before the World Series, and gave a very candid answer:
"(Pitching coach) Dave Righetti did a great job -- he got him in the pen and just got him more on line. (Bumgarner) just got out of sync with his mechanics, so he corrected some things. Sometimes Bum can get under the ball, underneath it, and go side-to-side, so he just made a couple adjustments there to help him get the ball where he wanted.
"Madison sometimes becomes his won worst enemy ‘cause he can tweak his own delivery trying to improve. So we just got him back to where he was. It clicked to him and he ran with it."
He’s still running. Bumgarner went 13-9 with a 2.77 ERA last year while making his first All-Star team, and is off to an arguably better start this season. He’s 8-3 with a 2.68 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings, tied for the N.L. lead in wins and riding a career-best six-game winning streak.
Tonight he’ll try to get the Giants back in the win column after a rare blowout loss at the hands of the Nationals on Monday night. Here’s the Giants’ lineup:
And the Nationals’ lineup:
* Reliever Santiago Casilla went through pitcher-fielding drills this afternoon with no set-backs and will start a rehab assignment at High-A San Jose on Thursday. Bochy said that Casilla will pitch one inning Thursday and, if all goes well, another two innings Saturday.
"He possibly could come up after that, or if we think he needs another outing we’ll leave him there," Bochy said. "But the good news is he’s doing well."
Casilla told reporters after the PFP session he feels "great" and doesn’t think he needs to go on a rehab assignment, but he smiled when asked if he’d win that argument with the Giants and said: "I don’t think so."
Regardless, it has been an impressive recovery by the right-hander, who could rejoin the Giants in Chicago next week. That would be a little less than four weeks since he injured his hamstring running to first base in Colorado, a grade two strain that looked like it was going to be much worse at the time.
"When I got out there I thought it was something that had detached from the bone, or the ACL, an ankle," Bochy said. "I still thought it would take a little longer than it’s taken, but it’s a credit to the shape he was in before the injury and the work he’s put in."
* Brandon Belt took ground balls today but is still a week and a half or so away from being able to throw. One development, though: Now that he has the pins out of his left thumb, he no longer has a huge cast on the hand. Belt reminded Bochy during his pre-game media session that that means Belt no longer resembles Chubbs from "Happy Gilmore" -- Bochy had said the Giants started calling Belt that after his injury.
* Bochy mentioned that he was a little short-handed in the bullpen last night, which may have played into the decision to let Ryan Vogelsong go into the seventh inning. Today he said Jeremy Affeldt specifically was off-limits after throwing three straight days.
Bochy, though, reiterated that the decision to keep Vogelsong in was more about giving Vogelsong a chance at getting a win. The game was still fairly close into the seventh, at 4-1, and the Giants have shown the ability all season to come back. Bochy said with the way Vogelsong had been pitching, he’d earned the right to go for a win.