Bumgarner's velocity returns for playoff push
PHOENIX -- Not only is 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner rising to the challenge of a major league pennant race, but he's popping the glove again, too.
Bumgarner hit 94 mph with consistency while tossing 71/3 innings in the Giants' 2-0 victory Monday, flashing the kind of velocity not seen since he was a 19-year-old elite prospect blowing doors off hitters in the Low-A South Atlantic League.
Bumgarner's most impressive act came when he pumped a fastball past hot-hitting Adam LaRoche to win a nine-pitch battle and strand two runners in the first inning. Catcher Buster Posey said it was the best stuff he's seen from the big left-hander.
"It's just my mechanics getting better and better," said Bumgarner, who lost some sheen as a top prospect when he struggled to hit 90 mph last summer and this spring. "I'm learning more about 'em as I go. I think that had a lot to do with it last year. I never had a reason to mess with them before."
Earlier this season, GM Brian Sabean said he wasn't sure that Bumgarner prepared himself over the winter to compete for the No. 5 starter job this spring -- a role that went to Todd Wellemeyer when the season began.
Bumgarner alluded to that, saying that he is staying in a routine that includes running and a throwing program.
-- ANDREW BAGGARLY