Bumgarner loses complete game for third time in last two seasons

Bumgarner loses complete game for third time in last two seasons

SAN DIEGO — When you go the distance as a pitcher, you generally know what you’re in for. A win, an ice pack, and a cold one or two. For Madison Bumgarner, being the only Giants pitcher on the mound has become more of a coin-flip. 

For the 15th time in Bumgarner’s career, he threw a complete game. He has lost six of those starts. Three of his five complete games over the past two seasons have ended with a loss, including Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to the Padres at Petco Park. 

Bumgarner was worked hard early and then cruised through the end, allowing two runs in eight innings. For the second time on this 1-5 trip, his big day didn’t end with a win. 

“What a great job he did,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I’ll take that every time. We just got shut down. We really didn’t even threaten much. It was a tough one.”

Bumgarner has received a total of three runs of support in his six complete-game losses. The Giants didn’t score Saturday until there were two outs in the top of the ninth, after Bumgarner had thrown eight innings and 114 pitches. Buster Posey singled, took second on defensive indifference, and scored on Brandon Crawford’s single. Those might have been the two hardest-hit balls of the night. The Giants managed nothing against Jhoulys Chacin, who got pounded by the Dodgers earlier in the week.

“We didn’t hit, maybe, a (single) ball hard off him,” Bochy said. “We didn’t catch many on the barrel. We just couldn’t generate any offense.”

Chacin flummoxed the Giants with a slider that he shaped in different ways. He even handled Bumgarner, who had homered twice in his first start. 

Bumgarner was dominant in the early innings last Sunday, but he gave up two early runs to a hyper-aggressive young lineup. After throwing 73 pitches in the fourth, he found a fix. He retired 17 of the final 18 hitters he faced. 

“They tipped their hand early,” Bumgarner said. “We adjusted.”

The bullpen blew a Bumgarner win in the opener. On Saturday, the Giants tried to get him off the hook. Posey and Crawford got to Ryan Buchter, but Eduardo Nuñez flied out to end the night. After blowing eight leads in the first five games, Bochy was hoping for a turning of tables.

“You’d like to find a way to steal a couple, because we’ve lost some games we should have won,” he said. “During the course of the season, you need to find a way to make up for those. I was hoping tonight would be one of them.”

It wasn’t. Instead, it was just a different color of loss. The Giants are guaranteed of losing both series on this trip. Johnny Cueto will try to keep it from being a complete disaster. 

Bumgarner did his best to stop the skid on Saturday. He doesn’t anticipate it lasting much longer.

“It just, you know, looks bad when it happens (the first week),” he said. “It’s really early. There are a lot of games left. There’s no reason to hit the panic button.”

Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle


Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly left Scottsdale unscathed. Instead they'll leave with an injured No. 3 starter, but the news on Jeff Samardzija late Thursday night was good news. 

Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Samardzija has a strained pectoral muscle that will sideline him for the start of the season. But given that Samardzija, who has had a rough spring, went for an MRI on his shoulder a week before the season opener, team officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief. 

"He'll go a week without throwing the ball and then crank it back up," Bochy told reporters, including Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It should't take long to get him back on the mound so it's good news."

Samardzija was supposed to take the ball next Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Giants will rely on two young pitchers and a non-roster invitee at the back end of their rotation. The injury ends a three-way race for the final two spots between Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland. The Giants could use all three in the rotation until Samardzija is healthy, or they could skip their No. 5 starter and move one of the pitchers into the bullpen. 

Because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, Madison Bumgarner can line up to pitch three of the first nine games. The Giants have been considering that all spring, although they have yet to publicly announce a decision one way or the other. Bumgarner said early in camp that he would be up to the challenge, and given how sharp he was all spring, that might be the best way to tread water until Samardzija is cleared to return to the rotation.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”