When the San Francisco Giants signed Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million deal in December 2016, they saw the move a missing piece to make the Giants competitive.
After all, the Giants were coming off a 2016 season that saw them blow 30 saves, and that didn’t inclue the two they blew in the Division Series against the Cubs.
But with Melancon at the back of their bullpen, the Giants foresaw the following scenario playing out over and over again – ace Madison Bumgarner pitches well, leaves the game with the lead and Melancon comes in the ninth to lock down the win.
The Giants thought that scenario would first play out on Opening Day 2017 when Bumgarner pitched seven solid innings against the Diamondbacks and left with a 5-3 lead. The lead was 5-4 when Melancon enter the game in the ninth.
Melancon gave up two runs and the Diamondbacks won 6-5.
Melancon didn’t get another opportunity to save a Bumgarner win before Bum hurt himself in a dirt bike accident three weeks later.
Bumgarner would spend almost three months on the disabled list. By the time he returned in mid-July, Melancon was on the DL with a pronator strain.
Melancon came off the DL in August, but did not pitch in the closer role, which had been turned over to Sam Dyson. Melancon’s season ended in early September.
Both Bumgarner and Melancon started the 2018 season on the DL.
Melancon made his season debut on June 3. Bumgarner made his debut two days later.
However, Melancon made his first seven appearances of 2018 in a non-closer role as the Giants worked him back into form.
With the Giants’ bullpen in flux after closer Hunter Strickland punched a door and broke his hand, Melancon got his first save opportunity on Thursday against the San Diego Padres. It came after Bumgarner threw eight shutout innings on 100 pitches.
With a 3-0 lead, Melancon got three outs, allowing just one hit, to record his first save since May 27, 2017.
And it was his first save of a Madison Bumgarner win, the sight the Giants have been waiting 18 months to see.
It was Bumgarner’s first win since beating the Dodgers on Sept. 23, 2017. It was his first outing without allowing a run since July 30, 2017, and his first eight-inning outing since April 8, 2017.