SAN DIEGO — Over seven innings Saturday night, Madison Bumgarner quieted any doubters.
The ace returned to the mound after nearly three months on the disabled list and looked very much like his old self. In his first start since a season-altering dirt bike crash on April 20, Bumgarner allowed just four hits and three earned runs. He walked two and struck out five. Bumgarner left with the Giants and Padres tied at three after seven.
Bumgarner has always had a sense of the moment, and he returned with a bang, striking out the side. His first big league pitch since April 19 was a 90 mph fastball to Manuel Margot, who later check-swinged over the top of a 3-2 pitch. Bumgarner then froze Carlos Asuaje with a 90 mph fastball at the knees. After misjudging Wil Myers’ pop-up in foul territory, he struck Myers out on a sharp cutter.
Bumgarner cruised through the second on just seven pitches and got old friend Hector Sanchez to pop up to open the third. Any thoughts of something really special were put to an end right there, as Matt Szczur crushed a solo homer to left.
It took until Monday, Bumgarner’s last rehab outing, for him to lock in with his breaking pitches. He had an issue in the fourth inning Saturday, hanging a 2-2 curveball to Jabari Blash that was crushed over the wall in center. The two-run shot gave the Padres a 3-2 lead.
Bumgarner worked around a bunt single in the fifth and a two-out double in the sixth, finishing the latter inning at 83 pitches, three shy of his high during a rehab assignment. He walked Szczur with two outs in the seventh but got pinch-hitter Corey Spangenberg to pop up on his 102nd and final pitch.
Bumgarner tried to walk toward the corner of the dugout when he returned, but Bruce Bochy found him for the “you’re done” handshake. The seven-inning performance was just the second by a Giants starter in the last 16 games.