PHOENIX -- Madison Bumgarner thought about this moment, because all pitchers do. He probably thought it would last more than four innings, though.
Bumgarner was pulled in the fifth inning of a 9-8 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on opening night, and it wasn't an easy decision for manager Bruce Bochy. With two runners in scoring position and one out, Bochy felt he needed a spark, so he turned to Gregor Blanco.
"I was caught in a hard spot," Bochy said. "I hate to take (Bumgarner) out in that situation, but down three, I felt we had to do something. Finally, it started clicking."
It clicked too late for Bumgarner to pick up his 50th career win, and truth be told, Bumgarner probably went to sleep Monday night thinking he didn't deserve it anyway. He's the ace now, and he feels responsible on nights like this. When the guys behind him made a hot mess of the top of the fourth, Bumgarner couldn't stop the bleeding. Aaron Hill's double made it a four-run frame.
"I had a chance to get it out of it," he said. "Unfortunately I didn't. I feel like I did a great job of containing nerves. I felt really relaxed. I was able to control it enough where none of the hoopla bothered me. But my command was a little erratic. Arizona is not the easiest place to pitch."
It's because of that last part that Bochy felt he could make the move. The Diamondbacks struggle to pitch here, too, and Bochy wanted to start a rally. Bumgarner didn't fight him, even when he found out the bat was being taken out of his power-hitting hands.
"It was a tough decision," Bumgarner said.
His first career opening day start was a no-decision, but there probably will be more openers for the 24-year-old. Plus, there are these numbers: 0.00 (his ERA) and 1-0 (the team's record).
"That wasn't quite the way I drew it up," Bumgarner said, smiling. "But however we get the win, I'll take it."
"It's different, but we have to be aware of that," Belt said. "We're professionals. It's a little harder than most places, but we knew that. It shouldn't be an excuse for us."
The Giants will need to lock it up defensively, Belt included. But he's already locked in at the plate.
"He settled down and made some great pitches," Bochy said. "Machi has got that ability. He throws hard and he's got three pitches to work with."
Said Posey: "He kept us within striking distance."
"I was happy for the kid," Bochy said of the double. "That's pretty impressive."