It is no secret that Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants is a great pitcher. It’s also no secret that he hits well – very well, in fact.
Clayton Kershaw, the reigning National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner, got just a little taste of Bumgarner’s power Thursday, as the Giants ace deposited a ball into the left field stands in the third inning. The home run gave the Giants a 1-0 lead and they never looked back.
The solo shot didn’t come as a surprise to Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, who had an amusing take on Bumgarner’s power compared to that of his teammates, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group:
A.J. Ellis noted that in batting practice, Bumgarner "launches balls probably further than any position player they have on that team."
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) May 21, 2015
After hitting two grand slams and four total home runs in 2014, Bumgarner’s homer on Thursday is the first on the season. He also became the first pitcher to hit a home run off of Kershaw.
However, Kershaw, although not being as much of a threat with the bat as Bumgarner, has had his own success as a hitter in his career. The left-hander hit above .200 in both the 2011 and 2012 season, and hit his first and only career home run on Opening Day against the Giants in 2013.
Although the Dodgers offense did not help Kershaw much, the 27 year old has not been the kind of pitcher that the fans are accustomed to seeing. While it is still early in the season, there has yet to be a glimpse of the dominant Cy Young winner of 2014.
With the home run to Bumgarner, Kershaw has now allowed six home runs in eight games. To put that in perspective, he allowed nine in 27 starts last season. While Kershaw has struggled through his first few starts of the season, there still isn’t reason panic.
In his career, Kershaw’s ERA tends to drop as the season progresses. So, there’s still plenty of time for him to right the ship.