ATLANTA -- When Madison Bumgarner stares down Braves hitters from 60 feet, six inches away, location has meant everything and nothing this season: everything in terms of pitch location; nothing in terms of venue. The 23-year-old rising star toyed with Atlanta's hitters for the second consecutive time Friday, painting corners, throwing strikes and delivering an arsenal of deceptive pitches from what must seem (to opposing hitters) like the first base line.
Were it not for a comfortable 6-0 lead, his final line would likely be even better: seven innings pitched, two hits allowed, zero earned runs and 10 strikeouts.
He walked just one batter center fielder B.J. Upton, in fact, whose walk rate is a much-improved 19 percent this month and never once looked uncomfortable. Even as Upton stole second base following the base on balls, Bumgarner (6-4) calmly turned his 6-foot-5 frame to face Dan Uggla, setting him down on strikes with five of his 108 pitches.
"He changed speeds. Sliders ...