SAN FRANCISCO -- Monday night proved that Madison Bumgarner truly is mortal, even in October.
The franchise's premier postseason pitcher looked shockingly ordinary in the second inning of Game 3 of the National League Division Series, as opposing starter Jake Arrieta of the Cubs lined a three-run homer into the left-field seats.
The Giants ultimately triumphed, 6-5 in 13 innings, to narrow their deficit in the best-of-five series to 2-1. But it marked the first time in 233 regular-season and postseason performances that Bumgarner allowed a pitcher to take him deep. Game 4 is set for 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 PT Tuesday on FS1.
"It was probably the best pitch I threw to him in the at-bat," Bumgarner said of the 1-2 fastball that Arrieta redirected. Bumgarner said that he and catcher Buster Posey considered throwing Arrieta a breaking pitch. But based on Arrieta's apparent difficulty handling the previous few pitches, they opted for the fastball.
"Sometimes you might help a guy out by slowing down, but from what I saw, I felt like I was making the right pitch," said Bumgarner, whose 24-inning postseason scoring streak ended. "He just made a good adjustment and got the head out."
Those were the only runs Bumgarner allowed during his five-inning stint.
"Obviously I'd like for it to be better, but if it weren't for that one pitch, that was the three runs they scored," he said.
Nevertheless, Bumgarner fell short of the standard he set for himself in his 15 previous postseason games, when he posted an 8-3 record with a 1.94 ERA. He certainly lacked the sharpness he displayed in last Wednesday's Wild Card Game at New York, when he twirled a complete-game four-hitter in the Giants' 3-0 triumph.
Bumgarner answered questions about his stuff by saying he felt normal. But managers Bruce Bochy of the Giants and Joe Maddon of the Cubs sensed otherwise.
"He didn't have his best stuff, but he willed his way through five innings," Bochy said. "... He kept the score where we had a chance to come back. So I thought he did a terrific job."
Said Maddon, "I thought he was wanting to throw more offspeed pitches, so maybe he wasn't feeling it tonight. That's probably what it was. ... I didn't see the bigger number on the board, but he still pitched well and effectively. ... From Bumgarner's perspective, I think he was not feeling his fastball."
However, Bumgarner definitely felt supportive of his teammates, who reciprocated the numerous occasions in which he rescued them with an outstanding performance. Departing from the customary behavior of starting pitchers, who typically remain in the clubhouse after they're removed from a game, Bumgarner returned to the Giants' dugout after he iced his arm.
"To watch everyone battle and not give up ... We're hard to kill, I'll say that for sure," he said. "We have a special group of guys and that was fun watching. We'll have as much momentum as we could have going into tomorrow's game."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.