SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner has faced the Giants twice since signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Thursday night's game will be a whole new experience.
Bumgarner faced the Giants at Oracle Park last September but did so in front of cardboard cutouts, and when he dominated them in August, there were fewer than 9,000 Diamondbacks fans at Chase Field. There should be a big and appreciative crowd on hand Thursday night, and there will be one other twist, too.
A day before the matchup, manager Gabe Kapler said there's "a very good chance" that Buster Posey faces Bumgarner for the first time. Posey opted out of the 2020 season and was not in the lineup earlier this year against Bumgarner.
"I don't want to say anything definitive because obviously I'm going to check in with Buster after the game," Kapler said. "We'll talk about it. There's a good chance he'll start tomorrow."
The Giants have mostly gone two on, one off for Posey this year, but this is the week to push Posey and it helps that the Giants have four consecutive night games to kick off the homestand. Bumgarner gets the final matchup of the year between the Giants and Diamondbacks, and it won't be an easy task for his old team.
Bumgarner has a 3.75 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break, an improvement on most of his tenure in Arizona. That includes seven one-run innings he threw against the Giants on Aug. 3. They went heavy on the right-handers that day and expect to do so again Thursday, with Darin Ruf coming off the IL to start.
There will be at least one veteran lefty in the lineup, though. Scott Kazmir will go up against Bumgarner, with Kapler saying Kazmir's "performance, track record and experience" made him the right choice.
"He's been there in the big spots," Kapler said. "And tomorrow is a big game for us."
Aside from draft positioning, it is meaningless for the Diamondbacks, but that won't matter to Bumgarner. He is as competitive as it gets, and you can bet he'll have the juices flowing Thursday night.
"Without question I think everybody understands the importance of that (start for him)," Kapler said. "I obviously respect Bumgarner's history here in San Francisco and I know the fans will probably really appreciate having him back in the ballpark and on the mound. I'm sure our players are looking forward to a really good competition."