SAN FRANCISCO — Madison Bumgarner is an excellent pitcher but a substandard liar. No one is good at everything.
First, Bumgarner the pitcher.
He threw seven innings on Wednesday and beat the Padres and got his seventh win. These are the games the Giants must win — the games when a good pitcher starts, and that means Bumgarner or Matt Cain. Bruce Bochy admits the National League West is a world of its own, evenly-matched teams with deficiencies. It will be a close race among four or even five teams — if the Dodgers get it together — that will continue into September.
Now on to the subject of lying. In the interest of politeness, let's call it fibbing.
When Padres first baseman Jesus Guzman came to the plate in the top of the second, the score 0-0, Bumgarner threw his first pitch behind Guzman's tush. Guzman looked morally outraged. He started walking toward Bumgarner.
And Bumgarner started walking toward Guzman. It's unusual for a pitcher to look for trouble, but there's something of the buckaroo about MadBum. The plate umpire immediately leaped in front of Guzman and so did Buster Posey. Everything would have been hunky dory except, of course, both benches cleared and the players got ready for one of those baseball fights.
Baseball fights usually aren't fights. You'd have to call them non-fights. They are so cute. Guys mill about and look tough but you get the impression they ask each other about their stock portfolios.
Then peace got restored, not that peace was ever in danger, and the Giants got over on the Padres.
Now for the background. On Tuesday night, Guzman had hit a two-run, go-ahead homer off Jeremy Affeldt in the top of the eighth. He whooped it up running around first base, pointing his fist at the heavens.
Whooping it up is against the unwritten code of baseball, an arcane code if there ever was one. The Giants drew the conclusion Guzman showed up Affeldt and showed them up.
In baseball, showing up is the cardinal sin. Baseball is mostly a non-contact sport and the guys aren't tough like football players or boxers. They get their feelings hurt easily, and jealously guard their machismo and demonstrate it when they get a chance in the non-fight fights.
After the game, the fibbing began. It's all part of baseball tradition and it's lovable.
A reporter asked Bochy about the pitch that sailed behind Guzman. Bochy, who's had practice at answering questions like this, who could act on Broadway, never changed his expression. "Hey, what happened, happened," he intoned in the deep, sincere Bochy voice. "Bum's trying to go in, and he wasn't trying to throw the ball behind him."
There may be an ounce of truth in the Bochy statement. Maybe Bumgarner wasn't trying to throw behind Guzman. Maybe he was trying to hit him. But he certainly was sending a message, not that Bochy would admit it.
Call Bochy an A+ fibber.
Now it was Bumgarner's turn. Someone asked if the pitch in question got away.
"I'm not going to comment on that," he said. "There's no need to."
I call that not even trying. The guy works on his slider. He should work on his fibbing. He could have said, "It got away from me and I deeply regret any discomfort I caused Guzman, the Padres organization, the city of San Diego and civilized people everywhere."