The Clayton Kershaw–Madison Bumgarner battles of the past few years have become some of the most memorable matchups in recent baseball history. Both pitchers with no small number of accomplishments, both getting the better of other at various times.
When it comes to actual head-to-head matchups — one guy pitching to the other — Bumgarner has had the advantage. He’s the better hitter. Maybe the best hitting pitcher in baseball. Certainly the best power hitting pitcher. But last night Kershaw had a hell of an at bat against Bumgarner. And a useful one too, even if he was ultimately retired by the reigning World Series MVP.
Kershaw ended up grounding out to second base, but he worked Bumgarner for 13 pitches. According to Andrew Baggerly of the Mercury News, it was the longest at bat for a pitcher in more than nine years. The last pitcher to work a 13-pitch at-bat: Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, on June 8, 2006, against Arizona’s Claudio Vargas. Watch:
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Bumgarner ended up leaving in the sixth inning, having tossed 112 pitches. Certainly not his most efficient outing ever. But made far less efficient by Kershaw being pesky and making MadBum work.