Madison Bumgarner reaches 2,000 career strikeouts
SAN DIEGO — When he came up to the big leagues for the first time in 2009, Madison Bumgarner was looking to win some games and stay around as long as he could.
The now 32-year-old left-hander could not imagine at that time where his career would take him — three World Series trophies, one World Series MVP and the lowest World Series ERA (0.25) in the history of the game, ahead of names like Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson.
On Wednesday night at Petco Park, Bumgarner added another piece of history to his resume by picking up his 2,000th career strikeout.
“No, definitely not,” Bumgarner said about whether he thought 13 years ago that he would be where he is now. “As a young player, you want to come in and do as good as you can, but I’ve been fortunate enough to do a small handful of things that I don’t think I’ve seen coming.”
Bumgarner came into the game needing just four strikeouts to reach the 2,000 mark, and he fanned Luke Voit to get there in the 4th inning. He is the 87th pitcher to reach 2,000 strikeouts. He added one more when he struck out the next hitter, Jorge Alfaro.
Even while frustrated with a 10-4 loss to the Padres, Bumgarner was able to appreciate the importance of the accomplishment.
“It’s special for sure,” he said. “I’m not taking that for granted. I’m thankful for the opportunity to do that. This game has been around for a long time, and not many people have been able to do that. So I’m blessed for sure, and I’m thankful that we were able to do that.”
Earlier this year, when Bumgarner realized that he would likely surpass the 2,000-strikeout mark if he stayed healthy, he glanced at the other pitchers on the list.
“There wasn’t actually as many as I thought,” Bumgarner said. “I was surprised. I thought there would have been a lot more.”
Bumgarner’s first career strikeout came on Sept. 8, 2009, while with the Giants, when he punched out San Diego’s Kevin Correia. He recorded his 500th strikeout on April 19, 2013, getting the Padres’ Yonder Alonso.
Bumgarner’s season high in strikeouts was 251 in 2016, while he was pitching for the Giants.
Rookie catcher Jose Herrera was behind the plate for the 2,000th strikeout. The 25-year-old from San Carlos, Venezuela, spent eight seasons working his way through the D-backs’ Minor League system to get his chance this year.
Herrera quickly became a favorite of Bumgarner, and has caught all but three of his starts this season. When Herrera was younger, he watched Bumgarner in the World Series, and still remembers his heroics in the 2014 series, when Bumgarner won the MVP Award.
Bench coach Jeff Banister reminded Herrera before he went out for the fourth inning to hang onto the ball if Bumgarner struck someone out because it would be the historic 2,000th.
Herrera held onto the ball and was honored to give it to Bumgarner.
“I told him, ‘Thank you for making me part of your history,'” Herrera said. “Here’s a guy I watched pitch in the World Series. It was great moment, a special moment.”