Urban: Giants' Bumgarner blanked but unbowed

June 10, 2011, 5:41 am
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June 9, 2011

MadBum?The way the Giants are scoring for their 21-year-old southpaw this season, he's got every right to be ChappedLikeAllHellBum.Another month of this criminal lack of support business and, were he so inclined, he might be ReadyForATri-StateKillingSpreeBum.Fortunately for the Giants, Madison Bumgarner is decidedly not so inclined. Sure, he's had a few meltdowns here and there. One was fairly epic; early last year, while still in the minors, he turned into CrazyBum over some questionable calls by the home-plate umpire and displayed his displeasure by doing his best Mat Latos, trying to fire the ball all the way out of the stadium. He's had one in the bigs, too, venting more than a little frustration by doing his best Manny Pacquiao, pummeling the dugout bench as though paid by the punch.
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So yeah, when MadBum snaps, he goes big. But his default disposition is as close to asleep as one can get without counting sheep.
He is to wired what Brian Wilson is to mellow.And this, without question, is going to help young Madison immensely as long as he's pitching for a team that appears to be in some sort of shock therapy that jolts them with KNBR's 50,000 watts every time one of their own dares cross that pentagon thingy they have to stand next to when that guy with the ball is throwing it toward them.Thursday's 3-0 loss to Edgar Renteria and a bunch of guys who didn't bring a World Series title to San Francisco -- sorry, Dusty; not a dig -- was all too familiar for Bumgarner.He's made 13 starts this year. In 10 of them, the Giants have scored three runs or less. In nine of them, two runs or less. In six of them, one run or less.In five of them -- five of 13! -- the Giants have rewarded his mostly solid efforts with the baseball equivalent of a Halloween bucket full of pencils. Nada. Nothing. Zero.RECAP: Cueto quiets Giants' bats, Reds take openerBumgarner's reaction to the lack of largesse? Laid back. If there's any sort of self-pity or teammate-loathing churning inside the kid's big body, he certainly suppresses it well.One explanation for his ability to avoid any run-related snappage might be that he knows there's no better 2-8 pitcher in the game, and he has a 3.23 ERA to prove it. Over his past nine starts, all of them "quality" by definition and "damn good" by decree, he's rocking a 1.93 ERA -- and a 2-5 record.That explanation likely doesn't tell the story, though. What likely does is that Bumgarner has quite a few teammates who qualify as experienced hands when it comes to pitching without a safety net.Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito have each taken more than a few turns on the throw-a-shutout-or-lose carousel in recent years, and surely their counsel is invaluable. Reliever Jeremy Affeldt has been mentoring Bumgarner on the ways of the big-league world since he arrived, and that's helped, too.More than anything, though, it's a function of personality. Of maturity. Of an understanding that baseball, as often as not, is fond of kicking even its finest where they'd better be wearing a cup.BitterBum? Not this guy. He knows the score.Even when there's no score at all.