Madison Bumgarner was fantastic on Sunday. He took the mound for all 24 outs that the San Francisco Giants needed a pitcher against the Washington Nationals, allow just four opposing hitters reached base: two by walk, one by double, and the fourth on a four-bagger.
Unfortunately, that home run was the only run scored in the entire game. And the way baseball goes, it doesn’t matter how dominant you are—if you allow a run and your offense doesn’t muster any scoring at all, you lose.
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It probably shouldn’t be that surprising, though, that the Giants offense went cold today (just five hits), considering that Hunter Pence sat this one out with a hurt face (save for a pinch-ht appearance). Because, as are probably well aware, the offense is helpless without Pence.
That’s why it would have been nice for the Giants to pick up a slugger before the non-waiver trade deadline. Matt Moore and Will Smith are both nice additions to the pitching staff, and Eduardo Nunez makes the offense better. But it’s days like this—and there are many days like these—that make a Ryan Braun-type so appealing.
Then again, if Buster Posey were more of a .320 hitter—even a .310 hitter—than a .290 hitter, that would help. It would also make a difference if Denard Span and Joe Panik could raise their averages 20 or 30 points. Also, even though Pence was out on Sunday, he actually hasn’t been that helpful since returning from injury, having failed to knock in a run during the week-plus he’s been back. So, maybe if some key Giants hitters were performing at their expected levels, then the need for another bat wouldn’t be so glaring.
If we’re going to look for some positive in today’s game, we probably have to return to Bumgarner, who lowered his ERA to 2.20 to keep himself in the running for the National League Cy Young award. Clayton Kershaw’s surgery probably means he won’t toss enough innings this year to qualify for the ERA title, so MadBum is effectively the NL ERA leader now. He’s also third in strikeouts and first in innings pitched.
The combination of ERA and innings pitched is probably the most important parlay of pitching stats out there, and considering that he leads in both categories (again, effectively in ERA), that pretty much makes him the most important pitcher in the league.
So, there’s that. But in order for that to matter, the Giants, who have won six games and lost 15 since the all-star break, need to more regularly hit like they did on Saturday when they scored seven runs and chased Stephen Strasburg from the game.
Otherwise, their grasp on a playoff spot will slip away, and that MadBum greatness we witnessed in the 2014 postseason and have been seeing throughout this season won’t get to be on display this October.