On MLB 2017 Opening Day Sunday, San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner not only pitched five perfect innings, but he had an historic day, becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to hit two home runs on Opening Day.
The first 16 batters Bumgarner faced he sent back to the dugout, but once he left the game after seven innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits and no walks with 11 strikeouts, the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied in the ninth inning for a 6-5 win over the Giants, giving Bumgarner the no-decision.
As great as the pitching by Bumgarner was for most of the game, his bat and swing kept the Giants in the game as he hit home runs in the fifth and seventh innings off pitcher Zack Greinke and Andrew Chafin.
ESPN reported the only other pitcher to hit multiple home runs in an MLB season opener was Don Drysdale. The article by ESPN states the following.
“Hall of Famer Don Drysdale is the only other pitcher with multiple Opening Day home runs, but he hit one homer in two separate openers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.”
Now for the Giants, their starting pitch wasn’t an issue (the perfect game was lost in the sixth inning with one out), but the play of the closer at the end was a reminder from last season that cost them wins, even though they’ve entered this MLB season with a new closer in Mark Melancon.
Now for the star in Bumgarner, in his two home runs against the Diamondbacks on Opening Day, the home run off Greinke in the fifth inning went 410 feet with no outs, and the one versus Chafin was a one-out home run that traveled 404 feet.
Chris Haft of MLB provided the following stat about the feat with Bumgarner’s two historic home runs.
“Additionally, Bumgarner joined Giancarlo Stanton as the only other player in the Statcast™ era to record two homers of 112-plus mph in the same game. Stanton did it on May 30, 2015 and July 6, 2016.”
Even though Bumgarner allowed three runs after retiring the first 16 batters he faced, the 2014 World Series MVP was un-hittable in those first five innings. Take for instance, four of the first six batters Bumgarner faced he struck out. During the first five innings, Bumgarner collected seven strikeouts.
Madison Bumgarner makes Opening Day history. pic.twitter.com/FCYyu5PV8J— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 2, 2017
Bumgarner came into the ’17 MLB season following an excellent ’16 season where he had a 2.74 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP and 5.0 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Looking at those numbers, though Bumgarner didn’t have the best of seventh innings, he did pitch near his season averages of last year.
With the bat now, Bumgarner has 16 career home runs following his record-setting Opening Day, with his best season hitting the long ball being five in 2015, and since the ’14 season, Bumgarner has hit 14 home runs.
All in all, it was a good individual day for Bumgarner for his pitching and day at the plate, but even though it is just one game, the Giants must feel a little uncomfortable about the back end of their bullpen and even their hitting to a very small degree since it was Bumgarner who had to gain two of the Opening Day home runs.
Even with the loss, it was exciting to see Bumgarner, a pitcher nonetheless, hit two home runs because it is a rare feat. Being on Opening Day, it had never happened before, making it not just exciting, but special and historic. Knowing the current pattern of batting for Bumgarner in recent MLB seasons, this won’t be the only two home runs he hits this ’17 MLB season.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]