PHOENIX (AP) — Madison Bumgarner knew it probably wasn’t a great idea to keep feeding Washington slugger Juan Soto a steady diet of fastballs.
But the Arizona left-hander was rolling through a great start, felt good about his stuff, and kept going to the heater.
Even he was shocked it worked.
Bumgarner threw eight effective innings — striking out Soto twice on seven straight fastballs — and the Diamondbacks topped the Nationals 7-2 on Saturday night.
“I just got stupid with it and kept doing it until it didn’t work, but it worked tonight,” Bumgarner said, grinning. “I know that’s obviously not the approach to have against a player like that, but tonight it was.”
Bumgarner (6-9) continued his best season since coming to Arizona on an $85 million, five-year deal in 2020, giving up just two runs on four hits. He threw 98 pitches, including 68 strikes, and walked none while striking out nine.
“He just kept making pitches and getting outs,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “You look up there in the fourth or fifth, the pitch count is super low, and you feel like he’s going to go deep in this game.”
The four-time All-Star has struggled to regain the dominance he showed during his decade-long stint with the San Francisco Giants, but has been effective in most of his outings this year and has a 3.71 ERA.
The good stretch could make him a candidate to be dealt to a contender at the Aug. 2 trade deadline, though the financials might be tricky because there’s still two more years on his fairly expensive contract.
Arizona rookie Alek Thomas added three hits, including a two-run double. Jake McCarthy and Christian Walker both had two hits. Carson Kelly homered in the second, giving the D-backs a 2-0 lead when his high fly just cleared the left-field wall.
The D-backs have won two lopsided games over the Nats since the All-Star break.
“This is what everyone expected,” Bumgarner said.
The Nationals lost for the 17th time in 19 games.
It was another quiet day for Washington’s offense, which finished with four hits. Victor Robles connected for a solo homer. Soto was hitless in four at-bats — striking out three times for the first time this season — and had his on-base streak snapped at 28 games.
Washington veteran Aníbal Sánchez (0-2) gave up three runs on six hits over five innings, striking out four and walking two in his second start of the season.
Bumgarner was not pleased that Robles spent a few seconds admiring his solo homer in the eighth inning that made the score 7-2.
“Clown,” Bumgarner said. “No shame. It’s 7-1, you hit your third homer of the year and you act like Barry Bonds breaking a record. Clean it up. I don’t care about giving up the run. Hell, we won 7-2 or 8-2, whatever it was. It’s frustrating.
“I’m the old, grumpy guy. I know. But that type of stuff didn’t used to happen.”
DRUW JONES AT CHASE
Druw Jones was at the ballpark, a few hours after the Diamondbacks announced they had signed the No. 2 overall draft pick.
The 18-year-old outfielder is the son of former MLB star Andruw Jones, who was also an outfielder and played 17 big league seasons. The younger Jones took batting practice before Saturday’s game and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Jones joins a group of young outfielders the D-backs hope will form the core of their offense in the coming years. Thomas and Daulton Varsho are already in the big leagues, while Corbin Carroll is playing well in Triple-A.
POWER OF THE FORCE
A matchup between two last-place teams at Chase Field normally wouldn’t draw a huge crowd.
But this was Star Wars night.
There was a T-shirt giveaway, a lightsaber duel on the warning track before the game, storm troopers in the stands and other assorted Star Wars-themed shenanigans throughout the evening. It drew an announced 37,802 fans, which was the biggest crowd of the season for Arizona.
The teams play again Sunday in the three-game series finale. The D-backs will start RHP Corbin Martin (0-0, 4.40 ERA). The Nationals counter with RHP Erick Fedde (5-7, 4.91).
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