Baseball’s ceremonial opening day arrived Sunday afternoon, and the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks got first billing as the debut game on ESPN. As is customary, both teams put their aces on the mound. The Giants trotted Pitching Jesus, a.k.a. Madison Bumgarner, to give the D-Backs a rude welcome to the 2017 season.
Though the Giants took the L, Bumgarner did Bumgarner-like things, striking out 11 in seven innings. He wasn’t in peak unhittable form, giving up a 3-run homer in the 6th; but the Giants entered the bottom of the 9th with a 5-4 lead before their bullpen blew it.
Bumgarner’s work on the mound is no longer the only impressive part of his game. His plate appearances have become mandatory viewing, and on Thursday, Bumgarner was simply showing off.
The man they call MadBum jacked two dingers, both solo shots and both traveling well over 400 feet before landing in the left field seats of Chase Field. Those baseballs weren’t just hit far, either. Their exit velocities—i.e., how fast they shot off Bumgarner’s bat and into the crowd—were the 7th and 9th hardest hit balls over two days of baseball.
Bumgarner’s first jack, off of Zach Grienke, sped off his bat at 112.5 mph, according to Statcast. His second registered 112.1 mph.
Bumgarner is now as much of a threat to crush home runs as any power hitter in Major League Baseball. Someone please let our man enter the 2017 Home Run Derby.