Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw take the bump for round two of this highly anticipated pitching matchup. We take a look at this duel of the southpaws and highlight what worked for each pitcher, and what didn’t…
For the second time in one week, MadBum and Kershaw went head to head in a battle of southpaw aces. How did this duel of the titans shake down? Let’s break it down from the beginning:
To start the game, Kershaw set up his inside-outside approach where he hammered the inside part of the plate with hard stuff, then came back with breaking balls on the outside part of the plate that fooled the Giants’ batters on a consistent basis. Kershaw’s curveball and slider were on point Friday night; and boy, were they filthy. Kershaw effectively mixed up both pitches, along with his fourseam fastball, to put out batters. The curveball, when it was hit, induced groundouts while the slider induced some gnarly swings-and-misses from Giants’ batters. Just ask Joe Panik, who was fooled by the slider repeatedly throughout the night.
Kershaw ran into trouble during the third inning when he gave up two singles and saw his defense boot a ball that set up a bases loaded situation for Buster Posey. Next pitch, Kershaw sends the ball to the backstop, and we have a tie ball game. Kershaw then proceeded to put out Posey and prevent any further damage. However, Kershaw looked uncharacteristically human during that third inning but cruised for the most part after that.
Bumgarner, through the early innings, was very solid. Other than two poorly located fastballs against Enrique Hernandez that resulted in two home runs, Bumgarner effectively used low cutters to set up the high four-seam fastball punch out pitch that fooled several Dodger players throughout the night. Aside from the two at bats against Enrique Hernandez, Bumgarner cruised right alongside Kershaw.
That is until the fourth inning came along.
To start the inning, Bumgarner gave up a walk and a single to put runners on first and second. Then the flood gates opened. Kelby Tomlinson and Joe Panik both booted potential inning ending double plays that loaded the bases and extended the inning. And both times, the Dodgers took advantage of the Giants’ errors and hung up a four spot in the bottom of the fourth. This included another extra base hit from Hernandez that continued to highlight Kiki’s Hernandez’s ownage of Madbum. Madison’s pitches weren’t fooling the Dodgers anymore as they were hitting him, and hitting him hard. Though the catastrophe that was the fourth inning wasn’t necessarily all on Bumgarner, he didn’t help himself much, as his pitches looked flat and were poorly located, and the Dodgers repeatedly took advantage of his mistakes. The fourth inning was as long as it was brutal to see a pitcher struggle as Madbum did.
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By the fifth inning, the Dodgers led 6-1. With Kershaw on the mound and a lead like that, it seems like this game should be over, right?
Not so fast, skip.
The Giants came out in the sixth inning and strung together several productive AB’s that ate up 31 pitches from Kershaw. Singles from Angel Pagan and Joe Panik set up a 9 pitch at-bat from Hunter Pence that saw Kershaw send another ball to the backstop as well as a single to score two more runs. Kershaw couldn’t get into a rhythm against the Giants during the sixth but still managed to strut his filthy pitches, inducing several swings-and-misses with his curveball and slider. The Giants managed to get 2 runs in the sixth to get back to a more manageable score of 6-3.
To the bottom of the sixth we go, and more issues for Bumgarner.
Madbum tried establishing his fourseam fastball, but wasn’t able to locate it as successfully as he did earlier in the game. The Dodgers took advantage of his poor location and put up an extra base hit followed by two singles that netted the Dodgers another run. In what would be his final inning, Madbum gave up three consecutive hits before being relieved by Cory Gearrin. Bumgarner finished the night with 5.0 IP, 8 hits, 4 earned runs and 7 SO’s.
Kershaw eased through the seventh in what would be his final inning of the game. Kershaw added another K to his belt by striking out Tomlinson and inducing two groundouts. In his final inning, Kershaw looked just as strong in his finish as he did in the beginning, effectively mixing up his pitches to keep the Giants’ batters unsuccessfully guessing. Kershaw finished his night at 7.0 IP, 5 hits, 3 earned runs, and 6 SO’s.
The Dodgers ended up winning the game 7-3, taking game one of this three game series.
This game became a much higher scoring game than anyone expected, but this wasn’t due to a surplus of hitting. Four of this game’s ten runs came due to errors. There was plenty of sloppy baseball play from both benches. This is a bit of shame as a pitching matchup like this is so much sweeter with good defense to keep the game low scoring and exciting for fans.
Kershaw looked to be his usual self as he had Giants’ batters fooled for most of the night. His pitching, aside from a few hits here and there combined with an error, was flawless. To the most part, we got the Kershaw we expected to see on Jackie Robinson Night.
Bumgarner, on the other hand, didn’t have nearly as solid of a performance as should be expected of him. Yes, there were a handful of errors committed by the Giants’ defense that added three or four more runs to the scoreboard. But, Bumgarner didn’t look like himself later in the game. His pitches didn’t have the life I was used to seeing, as his cutter didn’t break as hard and his curve seemed to not have as much snap as I expected. His four-seam fastball looked very good, but we all know you can’t live off one pitch and survive in the MLB unless you’re Mo Rivera.
Bumgarner has had one solid start vs the Dodger, but has otherwise had a very slow start to the season. He still doesn’t have his location and timing down just yet. At this point in the season, we should see a turnaround from Bumgarner fairly soon. Madbum is a professional and should figure out his mechanical issue fairly quickly. We are in week two of the MLB season, starts like this are beneficial to helping a pitcher find and work out any issues. Bumgarner will turn it around. Stay strong, SF.