Madison Bumgarner throws a No-Hitter. Sort of.
Madison Bumgarner took the mound in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon for a game that was to last seven innings. Bumgarner went the distance for the Arizona Diamondbacks to beat the Braves, 7-0. His official stats will reflect a win, shutout and full play – but not the distinguishing part of the achievement.
Bumgarner has launched a no-hitter. Sort of.
In an effort to speed up proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball said last season that matches played in a double title would only last seven innings instead of nine. Sunday was the first time since a pitcher has pitched a non-hitter in a double title – except it won’t count as one.
The league said on Sunday it would meet the Elias Athletic Bureau’s definition: “Team and individual non-hitters will not be credited in scheduled seven-innings unless the match results in additional innings and the team (or in a full game) rolls at least nine innings and does not allow a touchdown.
Don’t tell the Diamondbacks that.
“It was a seven innings game and we didn’t allow a hitting in seven innings,” said receiver Carson Kelly. “This is how I’m going to see it. Whether the league say ‘unofficial’ whatever it is, I think it’s a non-hitter. We were told we were playing seven and that he took care of business.
For Bumgarner, who played in three World Series for the San Francisco Giants in the 2010s, it was easily the best start of his two seasons with the Diamondbacks, who signed him to a five-year, $ 85 million contract. in December 2019. He had been 2-6 with a 7.16 earned-run average in 13 starts in Arizona, none spanning even six innings.
Against the Braves – who only managed one hit against Zac Gallen in the double-sided opener – Bumgarner was dazzling. He faced the 21-batting minimum, striking out seven and allowing just one base runner, Ozzie Albies, who reached in the second on a pitching error by shortstop Nick Ahmed and was quickly cleared on a double play.
“He was basically perfect for seven full innings,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “So it’s a cinch for me, and it will be forever. I don’t know what the rulebook will say and I don’t know if Major League Baseball will recognize it. But for what’s going on in this room right now, for the special feeling Madison gave us today – it was a cinch.
Bumgarner, 31, pitched four one-hit batters, including three without a hitting in seven innings. He said on Sunday that he probably could have finished it this time around.
“I mean, I would have tried,” he said, adding that there were too many variables to know for sure. “If it works for seven hours, it’s hard to imagine it won’t work for another two.”
Bumgarner was not as adamant as his receiver and manager on how to classify his performance. But he did not rule out its significance.
“I didn’t give up any moves today,” he said. “I don’t control the number of innings we play. I like the doubles thing in seven innings. I do not know.”
Baseball attempted to sort this out in 1991 with a special committee for statistical accuracy chaired by then-commissioner Fay Vincent. To be a non-official hit player, a game would have to meet this simple and narrow definition: “a pitcher or pitchers had to pitch a full game of nine or more innings without allowing a hit.”
With that, dozens of non-hitters were redefined as “notable achievements” in the Elias Book of Baseball Records. Many had been cut short by the rain, including a hitting five innings by Pascual Perez of Montreal in 1988 and a six innings performance in 1990 by his brother, Melido, for the Chicago White Sox.
Most recently, Boston rookie Devern Hansack pitched a rain-cut five-innings hitting game on the last day of the 2006 season. Like the others – and Bumgarner’s – he’s not in the 307 games. that meet the current definition.
Adam Darowski, User Experience Manager for Sports Reference – who manages Baseball Reference – tweeted Sunday that because Bumgarner’s play has reached its “preset end point” with no hits allowed, it should be no hits. By that definition, he added, two more games should be counted as hit-and-miss: eight-innings without hitting losses by Andy Hawkins of the Yankees in 1990 and the Red Sox’s Matt Young in 1992. Those two games were on the road, so the winning team didn’t beat down in the ninth.
Regardless of the classification of Bumgarner’s game on Sunday, it was meaningful for a three-time champion who showed he had not lost his inside ace.
“He has to be up there,” Bumgarner said, when asked where the timing is for him. “I’m pretty proud of it, that’s for sure.”