In one of their most getaway-day-iest performances of a very long season, the Braves got four-hit, Aaron Blair gave up six runs in the fifth inning, and that was very much that.
Madison Bumgarner struck out eleven men. It almost looked like we might be able to get to him in the first inning, after a single by Chase d’Arnaud — who is currently hitting .351/.431/.474, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — and a ground-rule double by Freddie Freeman. But Bumgarner struck out cleanup hitter Jeff Francoeur, whom we should probably call FCHE, and then he struck out Adonis Garcia to end the inning. That was the last time the Braves would have two men reach safely until the 8th inning, when a walk, a wild pitch, and a rare Brandon Crawford error put men on first and second. But consecutive groundouts ended the threat.
It didn’t help that Blair, who opened the game with four scoreless innings, can’t get swings and misses. On the year, he has 16 strikeouts and 18 walks, and that’s not a ratio that bodes well. Entering the game, his swinging strike rate was just 6.8%, significantly below the league average of 9.9%. If he can’t get swings and misses, he’s not long for the league. He got thoroughly outclassed.
Now, Madison Bumgarner is a good pitcher. He’s really good! He’s been an All-Star in each of the past three seasons, and he’s only 26. He destroyed us in this game all by himself. It’s hard to ask Blair to outpitch him.
But the fifth inning may have been his ticket back to Gwinnett. San Francisco’s eighth-place hitter, Gregor Blanco, led off and got a walk. The ninth-place hitter, Bumgarner, hit a two-run homer. Then the leadoff man, Denard Span, walked. The second-place hitter, Joe Panik, followed that with a two-run homer. Then the third-place hitter, Matt Duffy, got hit by a pitch. Then the cleanup hitter, Buster Posey, hit a two-run homer.
Now, Madison Bumgarner is a good hitter. He’s really good! For his career, he has a .180/.220/.306 batting line, which is very similar to Warren Spahn’s career line of .194/.234/.287. And there’s this:
Babe Ruth career
Innings pitched: 1,221⅓
HR hit as a pitcher: 13
Madison Bumgarner career
Innings pitched: 1,251
HR hit as a pitcher: 13
— Ace of MLB Stats (@theaceofspaeder) June 2, 2016
For the Braves to be good again, we’re going to need some of the guys in our farm system to turn into players as good as Bumgarner. Who will they be?