SAN DIEGO – Madison Bumgarner ascended a major league mound again in the Giants’ 5-3 loss Saturday afternoon, and it hardly mattered that his team was buried by 27 games in the NL West.
Every waking moment provides Bumgarner an opportunity to beat someone at something. This is the pitcher who turned patio furniture roping into a competitive sport.
So when Bumgarner stared down the San Diego Padres and struck out the first three batters he faced, you had to wonder: could he just go ahead and pitch every inning in the rest of this Giants season?
“Yeah, I mean, that was impressive, the way he located,” said Buster Posey, after catching Bumgarner for seven innings in a game that the Padres won on Hector Sanchez’s walk-off shot in the ninth.
“I didn’t really have any expectations. I hadn’t seen him pitch in awhile. He was pretty sharp considering he hasn’t pitched in a couple months. He was pretty sharp across the board.”
Any additional adrenaline? Any change in demeanor? Any clue that Bumgarner was starting for the first time in three months, since he separated his pitching shoulder in an April 20 dirt bike accident?
“It didn’t seem like it,” Posey said. “Yeah, he’d probably say it was a normal start. So probably no point in asking him.”
Just like there’s no point in asking Bumgarner whether he’s sorry for getting hurt while offroading on a day off in Colorado – an injury that contributed to his team’s season-long wipeout.
Bumgarner already expressed remorse without outright begging for forgiveness, even saying as recently as Monday’s rehab start at Single-A San Jose that “I put myself in this spot” and “I’m ready to help contribute, like I should’ve been doing this whole time.”
Asked to reflect on returning to a major league mound after what easily could have been a career-ending accident, Bumgarner said: “There’s a lot of different thoughts I have on it, on the whole process. I will say, it’s definitely nice to get back out there.”
Bumgarner held the Padres to four hits and a walk while striking out five in seven innings, but two of those hits left the ballpark. Matt Szczur hit a solo home run in the third inning. Then Bumgarner hung a curveball that Jabari Blash hit for a two-run shot in the fourth.
And while the Giants are no longer waiting for their ace to return, they’re still waiting for their first victory in a game that he starts this season.
Joe Panik hit a tying home run in the sixth inning but the Giants couldn’t push ahead, and then a familiar face spoiled Bumgarner’s return.
Sanchez, who caught one of Tim Lincecum’s no-hitters against the Padres in 2014, is making a tidy living by bedeviling his former club. He connected for a two-run home run against Steven Okert in the ninth inning to send the Giants to their fifth loss in five Bumgarner starts this season.
Jabari Blash hit a leadoff single against Cory Gearrin and the Padres executed a sacrifice bunt before Sanchez, who toted a .154 average into the game, connected on a 407-foot drive to left field.
Posey wanted Okert’s pitch inside, and said it probably caught too much of the plate – way too much, when you consider there was a base open.
The game probably was lost much earlier, though.
The Giants came within a millimeter of handing Bumgarner a 6-0 lead in the second inning.
They scored twice in the first against Jhoulys Chacin despite squinting into a mix of golden sky and shadow, as Hunter Pence lined a two-run single. They loaded the bases in the second inning, too, but Posey’s deep drive to left field settled in Szczur’s glove with his back against the wall.
Chacin’s back was against something firm as well. He was approaching 60 pitches through two innings, and it appeared the Padres bullpen would be tasked with soaking up innings.
But the Giants stranded Brandon Crawford following a leadoff double in the third, and they didn’t get another runner to second base until Panik hit a tying home run in the sixth.
Bumgarner’s fastball averaged 89-90 mph but he had enough movement with his cutter and curve to keep the Padres off balance. He worked a seven-pitch second inning and only paid for the two home run balls.
“I felt pretty good the whole time,” Bumgarner said. “We gradually built up to it. We were making pitches from the first inning on tonight.”
The Giants roster is far from whole. Exhibit A: they created roster room for Bumgarner by putting their other front-of-the-rotation presence, Johnny Cueto, on the 10-day disabled list with blister precursors on three of the five fingers on his pitching hand.
But there had to be a mental boost to see Bumgarner back on the mound, throwing from that same, sidewinding arm slot.
“He looked the same,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “His delivery, everything, it looked good. I think his command was good. He was excited, being back.
“I’m not surprised by anything Bum does. It was just a solid effort. We checked on him to see where he was after six, and he said he felt great. Then he went out and threw great in the seventh.”
After missing three months, Bumgarner said he wanted to give the Giants as much as he could – no matter where they are in the standings. He was happy to get through the seventh.
“For sure, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to go much over 100 pitches – or they weren’t going to let me, anyway,” he said.
All Credit Goes To This Website: Source link