SAN FRANCISCO Madison Bumgarner has spoiled us all.Bumgarner, who is still just 23, has been so good so far inhis young career that sometimes he makes you forget just how difficult it is topitch in the major leagues.Sometimes, you forget how easily a game can be ruined, how onesmall lapse can be all it takes. When you see what happened on a day likeSaturday, it actually makes you appreciate even more what Bumgarner did in hisprevious start, when he shut out the Dodgers over eight innings of sheerbrilliance.But he wasnt thinking about that in the wake of the Giants7-3 loss to the Braves. He had the sour look of a guy who just failed histeammates, even though, by an objective standard, he still wasnt that bad, andhe left with his team still in the game.I just got out of whack mentally and mechanically, andwasnt able to get it back, Bumgarner said.He was referring to the third inning. Opposing pitcher MikeMinor with a .024 batting average, one hit and one walk in 45 plateappearances was in the box to start the inning. Bumgarner walked him. After astrikeout, he walked Martin Prado.Then with the sizzling Jason Heyward at the plate, hisfastball outside wasnt so much outside as, wellOver the middle of the plate, Bumgarner said.And Heyward drilled it over the right-field fence, hisfourth homer in 10 games. Just like that, the Braves had a 3-0 lead.I felt pretty good the first couple innings, then thewheels kind of fell off, Bumgarner said. I was still able to battle throughand get some outs, but you cant pitch that way, not feeling confident in yourstuff, not feeling like you can put the ball where you want, especially againsta team like that.Bumgarner did it again in the seventh, when he grooved afastball to Minor, who ripped it off the right-field wall for a double.I just kind of set it out there on a tee for him,Bumgarner said. It just goes back to not having confidence in your stuff. Ididnt feel like I could put it where I needed to. Its something you have towork through.Truth be told, Bumgarner was a little hard on himself.Manager Bruce Bochy said overall I thought he pitched pretty good. When Bumgarnersfinal line was tallied, hed allowed four runs in six-plus innings, which iscertainly a passable bad start.The Giants still had a shot to win the game even after hewas done, thanks to Gregor Blancos two-run pinch-hit double in the bottom ofthe seventh, which made it 4-3.Only the Giants bullpen We got a little sloppy there inthe eighth and ninth, Bochy said put the game out of reach again, and theysaw their five-game winning streak come to an end.Bumgarners struggles and those of the offense, which hadbeen hitting .299 and scoring more than five runs a game over the previouseight, were rare enough that the Giants could simply shrug their shoulders andblow this one off. The Braves, after all, are no punching bag. They entered theday as leaders in the wild card race, with the exact same record as the Giants.We knew it was going to be hard, Blanco said. We had five straight wins and we wanted it to be six, but this happens and hopefully well start another streak tomorrow.
SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.
The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. The job was previously held by Shane Turner. At the end of the season, team officials hinted that Turner could be one of several members of the organization to be reassigned.
In a statement, general manager Bobby Evans said Bell will "help shape our ongoing strategy and continued commitment to player development."
Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS.
Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis.
Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.
Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.
Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.
But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.
He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.
Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.
And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.
So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.
At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.
Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.