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Entries in Madison Bumgarner (18)

8:21AM

S.F. Examiner: Bumgarner winless in three starts

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

Buster’s on the disabled list, if only momentarily. Mad Bum is on the outs with fortune. Brandon Belt is, well, struggling is the kind way to phrase it, although, glorioski he did get a hit after going, ooh, 0-for-18. Oh, those odd-year blues for the Giants.

Yes, the season isn’t two weeks old, and a year ago San Francisco started beautifully and ended less so, proving over 162 games and six months a great deal can change, sometimes for the better as opposed to 2016 when it was for the worse.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner

7:45AM

S.F. Examiner: Opening Day reminder of last season’s woes

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

PHOENIX — Somewhere beyond the usual platitudes and justifications, the expected words that it was only one game and yes, baseball can be bewilderingly strange, is the unavoidable fact the Giants started the 2017 season exactly the way they ended the 2016 season: With a massive bullpen failure.

Say what you want, and what manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday was true to his character, that the Giants should have scored more, that the Arizona Diamondbacks had some good fortune — “seeing-eye hits,” is the phrase — and that a couple of calls by the umpires could have, more specifically, should have gone the other way.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner

9:33AM

S.F. Examiner: Questions for Giants as they drop eight

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Eight in a row for the Giants, the wrong way. True, they don’t count, but going a week without a win, even in the exhibition season brings back haunting memories of the second half of the 2016 regular season, when those losses did count, when San Francisco plunged from first place.

Madison Bumgarner pitched beautifully on a 72-degree Sunday afternoon, and that is what we should take from yet another Cactus League defeat for the Giants, this one to the Kansas City Royals, 4-3.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner

8:47AM

Giants: Little things and big defeats

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — They’re not going to win the division. That’s for sure. Maybe the Giants still will make the postseason, get in as a wild card, and even that’s problematic.

But definitely the way they are playing, just poorly enough to lose, they won’t overtake the Dodgers — who gleefully overtook the tumbling Giants in the National League West days ago.

It’s not that the Giants are a bad team. The Atlanta Braves are a bad team. No, the Braves are a terrible team. The San Diego Padres are a bad team. They are 22 games below .500. And that’s after sweeping a three-game series from the Giants. For a second time this season.

The Giants are a good team playing badly. Or once were a good team playing badly, very badly as defined by a classical, baseball reference.

When they hit they don’t pitch, as they did and didn't on Tuesday night, San Francisco entering the ninth with a 4-1 lead and ingloriously losing to the Padres 6-4 on a home run by, not Nate Colbert or Tony Gwynn even, but Ryan Schimpf. The 27th blown save of the season. Oh, where are you now, Robb Nen?

When the Giants pitch they don’t hit, as they did and didn't on Wednesday in the sunshine and gloom (the mood, not the weather) at AT&T Park, San Francisco getting only four singles and thus getting whipped by the Pads, 3-1.

So the little bit of optimism created when the Giants had a sweep of their own, taking three in a row at Arizona over the weekend, has been trashed, smashed and tossed into McCovey Cove. So much for progress.

The Dodgers, who beat the Yankees for the second time in their three-game series at the Stadium, now are five in front of San Francisco. The billionaires at Chavez Ravine smirk.

In the post-game session Wednesday, Bruce Bochy, the Giants' manager, was asked if he had sleepless nights, to which he answered in the affirmative, adding, “I wish I could do more. Every manager or head coach does. It’s always on your mind.”

Some would say Bochy could have done more on Tuesday night if Brandon Belt hadn’t been out because he was ailing. Buster Posey was playing first, and there was a ball off Posey’s mitt, which became an infield single when reliever Hunter Strickland conceded he was slow to cover the base.

The little things, and the big defeats.

On Wednesday, the Giants' bullpen couldn’t be faulted. Neither could starter Madison Bumgarner. You allow only three runs, you’ll normally win. Not, however, when the season is coming apart at the seams.

San Diego starter Luis Perdomo mystified the Giants' batters. The first four men in the order, Denard Span, Angel Pagan, Posey and Brandon Crawford, had two walks and no hits among them. Only because Belt and Joe Panik managed back-to-back singles in the second, after a Crawford walk, did the Giants avoid a shutout.

“He had a good sinker,” Bochy, a former catcher, said of Perdomo, who didn’t look like someone who came into the game with a 7-9 record and 5.89 earned run average. Ah, but the Giants looked very much like the team that has collapsed (20-35 since July 10) in notable fashion.

Bumgarner, gracious as always post-game, stood there attired like a hunter (not Strickland) and was asked what needs to be corrected: pitching, hitting, whatever.

“I don’t know,” he answered quietly. “So far, the second half’s been a club I’ve never seen before.”

A club that Giants fans have seen too much of, one that's causing them to wonder what might have transpired if San Francisco, not the Cubs, got 100 mph closer Aroldis Chapman (or who the Giants would have been forced to trade to acquire him).

Bumgarner was unable to pick up his 100th career victory, a total that’s inevitable.

“There’s a lot of pressure this time of year,” reminded Baumgarner, reflecting on the chase for the playoffs and not his personal goals or difficulties. “It’s more of a mind-set this time of the year.”

Bochy could only agree.

“This was a big series,” he conceded about the three games, three defeats, against San Diego. “They’re all big.”

A little more than two weeks are left in a season that began so well, a season — an even year — in which the Giants were picked to be champions. How did we go wrong? How did the Giants?

7:52AM

A painful but inevitable end for the Giants

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — It hurt. Don’t doubt that. To have the Dodgers, the team that infuriates Giants fans even more than their own team enthralls them, clinch the division at their home, was painful. And, sadly, inevitable.

Finally, emphatically, the Dodgers, with all that talent, but with all those questions, ended the chase and for the Giants the hope. It was a rout Tuesday night.

It was Clayton Kershaw in full domination. It was an 8-0 victory that had the message board at AT&T Park offering L.A. congratulations — imagine that, and telling us to “#respecttherivalry” — and the defending World Series champion Giants staring in dismay, if not disbelief.

“You have to remember that in the off-season,” Madison Bumgarner said of the opposition celebrating in what in effect is his house. “You don’t want to be part of that. It’s always tough.”

Even tougher when your own fans began departing as the score built, and in the stands behind first base there were only spectators in blue jackets or jerseys shouting, “Let’s go Dodgers.”

Infuriating. And to the Giants, unacceptable.

Bumgarner was the San Francisco starter this fateful night by the Bay. He was the World Series hero last fall and the one reliable pitcher this summer. But the game and the moment — and the Dodgers — got to him, while the Giants couldn’t get to Kershaw.

Thirteen strikeouts for Kershaw. One hit for the Giants, that by Kevin Frandsen, who spent most of the season with Sacramento, the Triple A farm team. And, after seven straight defeats at AT&T this year, a momentous Los Angeles victory.

Bumgarner, trying to win his 19th game of 2015, more significantly trying to save the Giants, understood the task and the difficulty, maybe too well. “I don’t want to say it got the best of me,” said Bumgarner, a standup guy as well as a brilliant athlete, “but I was a little more emotional than I like to be. I didn’t have what I wanted to have.”

The Dodgers scored in the first, which it turned out was all they would need but not all they would get. Kike Hernandez homered in the third, Justin Ruggiano and A.J. Ellis homered back-to-back in the sixth. Mad Bum had thrown 112 pitches but would throw no more.

The game was over if there were innings left to play. The season was over, if there were five games left to play.

Yet, properly, there was little remorse from the Giants. “Four concussions and two obliques,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, reminding of a year too filled with injuries and trips to the disabled list. “And yet here we were on September 29th finally getting knocked out.

“It’s always tough when it happens, but with everything, the new kids, the injuries, to go to the last week of the season you still have to be proud of these guys. Bumgarner had a tremendous year. He had good stuff today.”

Until he wore down. Until the weeks and months caught up with a man who a year ago pitched through October and surely must have felt weary, not that he ever would suggest as much. He wanted the ball, and the Giants, who had watched him outduel Kershaw earlier this season, wanted him to have it.

“There was a lot at stake,” said Bochy, stating the obvious. There also was an uphill climb. The Giants had three long losing streaks during the season, and after allowing leads to get away last week, twice against San Diego and once against Oakland, were eight games behind the Dodgers. They cut the margin to five, but sooner or later L.A. would stop losing. Sooner happened on Monday night.

“We had no margin for error,” said Bochy, repeating a theme of the past few days. Now they will have an autumn without the playoffs. Now there will be no more pennants or paraphernalia.

It’s hard to fault a team that didn’t have Hunter Pence except for a few games, that had Brandon Belt and Nori Aoki get concussions, that for a while lost Jake Peavy and for most of the time didn’t have Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum.

In spring training gleeful Giants fans wore T-shirts that read, “We like the odds,” a play on words noting the team had won titles in even years. But the odds were not on the Giants’ side. And the Dodgers were too strong.

“We were very competitive,” said Bumgarner. “We were there to the end.”

And now it’s the end.