Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Madison Bumgarner pumped strikes, recorded outs and pitched deep into a game on Saturday night. He then followed his vintage performance on the mound with some on-brand postgame comments.
Annoyed at the way Victor Robles appreciated his solo home run in the eighth inning of the Diamondbacks’ 7-2 win, Bumgarner took aim at the Washington Nationals outfielder during his session with reporters.
“Guy’s a clown,” Bumgarner said. “Golly, no shame. No shame.”
With the Diamondbacks ahead 7-1 in the eighth, Robles launched a Bumgarner cutter 413 feet to left field, then took his time before beginning his trot around the bases, sidestepping his way out of the batter’s box.
“Like, it’s 7-1, you hit your third homer of the year and you act like Barry Bonds breaking the record,” Bumgarner continued. “Clean it up. I don’t care about giving up the run. Hell, we won 7-2, 8-2, whatever it was. It’s frustrating. I’m the old grumpy guy, I know, but that type of stuff, that didn’t use to happen. That’s ridiculous.”
Bumgarner has not made many comments like that since joining the Diamondbacks in 2020, but he was known for them during his time with the San Francisco Giants, most notably having run-ins with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and Max Muncy.
For his part, Robles did not seem to make much of Bumgarner’s remarks. While crediting Bumgarner for what he has accomplished in his career, he mostly seemed to shrug it off.
“When he’s pitching well, he’s able to celebrate and do what he likes to do,” Robles said through interpreter Octavio Martinez. “It seems like he calls everybody a clown that has a big hit or a home run against him. If he doesn’t want anybody hitting a home run against him or having any issues with that, then keep striking people out or making better pitches to where he doesn’t have to worry about that.”
For the second consecutive day, just about everything went right for the Diamondbacks, who beat up on the Nationals, baseball’s worst team. Bumgarner was efficient and effective, completing eight innings for just the second time in his Diamondbacks tenure while allowing only two runs on four hits. He struck out nine.
Manager Torey Lovullo has been sort of hinting that he believed a performance like this was coming from Bumgarner. Two starts prior, Lovullo went so far as to call a three-inning stretch from the veteran left-hander the best he had seen from him the past three years; that is saying something given that Bumgarner threw a seven-inning no-hitter against the Braves last season.
“Today was probably the most consistent I’ve seen,” Lovullo said. “He was just pounding the zone with three pitches and it seemed like he could work that arm-side edge as often as he wanted to.”
Said Kelly: “The last couple of starts you’ve seen him gain momentum. The velocity is up and I think the stuff is getting better and better and a little bit sharper. You can see the confidence that he has when he goes out there.”
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Bumgarner thought his stuff in his final start before the All-Star break was as good as it had been in years; he touched 95 mph that day but did not get good results, giving up five runs (four earned) in five innings. Comparatively, he thought his stuff was just average on Saturday but that his command was good and his secondary pitches were doing what he wanted them to do.
Bumgarner held Nationals star Juan Soto in check by attacking him only with fastballs, getting him to fly to center in his first at-bat before striking him out in his next two trips to the plate. He called his pitch selection the result of being “stubborn.” He threw him three fastballs in the first inning, four in the third and three more in the sixth.
“We just went at him and then I just got stupid with it and kept on ‘til it didn’t work,” Bumgarner said. “But it worked tonight. I know that’s obviously not the approach to have against a player like that, but tonight it was.”
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.