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.”