SEATTLE -- Throwing a no-hitter is so rare that to consider the feat inevitable in any pitcher's career might seem foolhardy. Presumptuous. An affront to the baseball gods. Then again, Madison Bumgarner has proven that he's not just any pitcher.
As he has done repeatedly in six Major League seasons, Bumgarner looked dazzling enough Wednesday night at Safeco Field to join the coterie of teammates past and present -- Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Chris Heston -- to hold the opposition hitless. But a bad-hop single and a questionably played RBI triple helped dash Bumgarner's momentum in San Francisco's 2-0 Interleague loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Complementing a darting fastball that reached 94 mph with an impressive array of curveballs and sliders, Bumgarner retired the first 13 batters he faced. In the Giants' dugout, manager Bruce Bochy allowed himself to speculate about a no-hitter for Bumgarner.
"I thought he had a chance tonight, I'll be honest," Bochy said. "I hope I didn't jinx him."
Even Bumgarner, who proved capable of prodigious accomplishments during his otherworldly October last postseason, admitted he had settled into a favorable groove.
"It was one of those days when everything was there," he said. "... One of those starts in the the year where you feel about as good as you can feel."
Bumgarner's perfect game evaporated as Mark Trumbo recorded a single on a grounder that took a sudden, wicked hop off shortstop Brandon Crawford's chest.
"It was one of the worst [bad hops] I've seen, actually," Bumgarner said.
There remained a slender chance that the official scorer might change his call to an error if Bumgarner remained untouched through the rest of the evening. But three consecutive one-out hits in the sixth -- Mike Zunino's sharp grounder to left field, Austin Jackson's triple to right-center and Robinson Cano's double -- not only evaporated Bumgarner's no-hit hopes but also the Giants' victory bid. Because Seattle's Felix Hernandez was equally impressive, blanking San Francisco on four hits in eight innings.
Center fielder Angel Pagan acknowledged he should have caught Jackson's drive at the warning track.
"I missed it. I missed it," Pagan said. "I gave it my best effort and I missed it. I should have caught it."
Had he done so, Bochy suggested the Giants might have doubled Zunino off first base. Instead, Zunino charged home, capitalizing on second baseman Joe Panik's wide relay to slide under catcher Buster Posey's tag.
"When you're in a tight game like that and you make a mistake, it's probably going to hurt you," Bochy said.
Bumgarner (7-4) has yielded three runs in 16 innings in his last two starts, yet lost both decisions. As for the vanished no-hitter, he accepted his fate philosophically, observing that luck is as much of a factor as skill in such instances.
"You just have to have everything work in your favor," he said.