Bumgarner benefits from Crawford's all-around effort

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Bumgarner benefits from Crawford's all-around effort

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SAN FRANCISCO Madison Bumgarner became the firstleft-handed Giants pitcher to win 15 games since Shawn Estes in 2000. TheGiants young southpaw accomplished the feat in Mondays 2-1 win over theColorado Rockies despite mechanics that he described as probably as bad astheyve been all year.Bumgarner labored through six innings, but held the Rockies to one run to helpthe Giants lower their magic number to eight games, with the second-place Dodgersidle Monday.At the tender age of 23, Bumgarner has made a name for himself in the bigleagues thanks to routinely pinpoint control. That wasnt the case Monday.I dont think he was quite as sharp, but he competed reallywell out there, made pitches when he had to, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Hemixed in a few walks, and thats unlike Madison, and he got in a couple jams,but kept his poise out there and made the pitches when he had to. Thats alwaysa great sign. He found a way to win that ballgame for us.Bumgarners assessment?My mechanics were way off compared to when Im usually on and feeling good,Bumgarner said. I dont know if its necessarily one thing but Im going toget a closer look at it the next couple of days and try to figure it out andget back on track.Bumgarner doesnt think hes back on track, despite picking up the qualitystart after he came into Mondays game with a 7.29 ERA and nine walks over hislast four outings. However, he did say that its encouraging to end up with arespectable pitching line without your A-game.It feels better to win a game like that then it does to goout there when youre really sharp and throwing good, Bumgarner said. Itfeels good to know that if you dont have your best stuff, you can still fightyour way through and give us a chance.I was just trying to battle and make pitches and just keepbattling every inning. I was fortunate to make pitches when I needed to and getout of it.Fortunate may be the right word for Bumgarner, consideringhe only put together one 1-2-3 inning and set a new career-high with his fivefree passes. The only reason the Rockies ended up with a 1 in the run columnis because Bumgarner benefited from some spectacular defense, especially fromshortstop Brandon Crawford. First it was Buster Posey helping Bumgarner with agreat throw to nail Dexter Fowler trying to steal second after a leadoff walkto open the game. Crawford then helped Bumgarner through two more scorelessframes, starting an inning-ending double play in the second and completing aspectacular backhanded grab on a ground ball in the hole with a perfect throwacross his body from the edge of the outfield grass in the third. There weretwo runners on at the time and neither would end up scoring.Bumgarner knew he needed to give Posey and Crawford some credit for theircontributions.Thats big; thats a momentum changer, Bumgarner said of Poseys play in thefirst and Crawfords in the third. Theres no telling what could happen ifthey didnt. I was obviously trying to battle and get out of it, but those aretwo big plays.Bochy appears close to starting a door-to-door campaign forCrawfords Gold Glove candidacy.I dont know whos playing better defensively, Bochy said.Hes got the confidence going, a sense of belonging up here. Hes doing agreat job.While Crawford was known for his defensive pedigree in theminor leagues, it didnt carry over at the start of the 2012 season. His Apriland May struggles are long forgotten in the Giants clubhouse, though.Weve known it all along, Bumgarner said of Crawfordsglove-work. He struggled a little bit earlier in the year, but hes got one ofthe best gloves in the game. Hes very athletic and a really good shortstop.Crawford has been carrying his weight on defense for some time now, but hasntcontributed at the plate with regularity. But he came through with a triple anda double on Monday, the first of which was as close to a home run as you canget at AT&T Park and the second of which would have been a triple if ithadnt skipped over the wall out of play.Crawford led off the third inning with a ball that bouncedoff the top of the wall in center and scored the Giants first run on a passedball. Ian Kinsler wore a stunned look on his face when the same thing happenedto him in Game 2 of the 2010 World Series. Crawford said he hadnt seenKinslers hit but planned to after an unnamed teammate told him about it. Inhis next at-bat, Crawford led off the fifth with a double that wouldve been ahome run in most parks.Both of them off the bat Ithought might be out, Crawford said. But you never know here. Got about asclose as you can without hitting a home run.Once again the Giants won a game without hitting a home run. With the win, SanFrancisco is now an even 42-42 when held homer-less. The Giants are 42-21 whenthey go deep. More importantly, the Giants have now won 29 one-run games, themost in Major League Baseball. Its what you talk about, you hope for in spring training and here we are,Bochy said. These are very exciting games. Of course you can feel it from thecrowd. But we have baseball left and you have to come out here every day and beon your toes.The Giants now have a season-high eight-game lead over the Dodgers in thedivision. But Bochy isnt comfortable with his advantage yet.Youd like to hopefully keep that margin for error and comeout here and go hard every day, Bochy said. All these games are important.Were not taking anything for granted. We have work ahead of us playing goodtimes and thats how you have to approach it. You dont watch what the otherclubs are doing, just focus on what you need to do and thats go out there andplay good ball and play hard.

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

DENVER — Bruce Bochy watched the first two games of this road trip from his home in San Diego and the final three from the top step of the dugout at Coors Field. He did not like what he saw, but at the moment he’s more concerned with what he might hear. 

“What you have to careful of — you can’t let any kind of complacency set in and say, ‘It’s early, we’ll be ok.’ I don’t want to hear that either,” Bochy said. “It’s the old adage that you come out with some sense of urgency. All these games are important. You’ve got to stay away from that attitude, too: ‘We’re not through April yet and have 140-something games left.’ That doesn’t work out.”

Three weeks into the season, nothing is working. The rotation has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the Majors. The lineup scored 10 runs over a five-game road trip and got shut out twice. The bullpen hasn’t been given many leads with which to make up for the first-week trouble. The defense has been uncharacteristically sloppy. 

It has added up to a 6-13 start, tied for the worst in club history. The Giants have lost six of seven and they’ll head home seven games out of first place. 

“Right now there’s nothing clicking,” Bochy said. “Let’s be honest, this has been a rough start and we’re not very good right now. I’m not saying we’re not very good. We are good, but we’ve got to find a way to come out of this. This was a tough way to end this series. We’ve been through it. I’ve got men out there and that’s when you find a way to get through this. They will.”

Perhaps Monday will bring some fresh blood for the roster. Drew Stubbs appears poised to give the Giants another veteran option should they cut bait with a struggling outfielder. Michael Morse could be an option in left field soon, and if he’s mostly relegated to first, the Giants can put Brandon Belt in the outfield. He looked fine there Sunday while playing both corner spots. 

Those are moves made around the edges of the roster, though. There is no magic bullet coming from the outside, not even Christian Arroyo, who continues to mash at Triple-A. This is a $200 million roster and much of that has been spent on the rotation. Through 13 games, it is the worst in the National League, and the ace was lost to an off-field accident. Sure, the starters have pitched at Chase Field and Coors Field, but on back-to-back days they were dominated by Rockies rookies who make a living here. 

Samardzija could not keep pace with left-hander Kyle Freeland, who sawed off a handful of bats while cruising through seven. Samardzjiza gave up a run early, two more in the fourth on a hanging splitter that was blasted to right, and five in the sixth.

Bochy challenged his starting staff to improve after Saturday’s game. He has not publicly done the same with the lineup, but subtle changes have been made here and there. It is a group that, outside of a couple of players, has lacked energy. Because they don’t hit for power, the Giants are reliant on stringing together rallies. For the fourth time in seven games, the lineup failed to put a runner on base the first time through the order. 

“Even in spring training we had our games where we had trouble getting something going early,” Bochy said. “It’s the fourth or fifth before a hit. Somehow, we’ve got to change that.”

The Giants played Sunday without Jarrett Parker (clavicle) and Denard Span (right shoulder sprain), but for the most part the lineup is healthy. Bochy said he has talked to hitting coach Hensley Meulens about possibly altering pre-game routines, but that seems a cosmetic fix. 

“We’ve talked and we’ve shaken up the lineup, but as you saw today, there’s only so much you can do,” he said. 

Bochy knows there is outside noise regarding the roster. His eyes bulged the other day when asked if Arroyo would get a call-up next week. The Giants do not feel he is quite ready, or that there is a spot for him on the infield. For all the potential bench options waiting at Triple-A, this team's core is set, and it’s not outrageously banged-up compared to the rest of the division. 

The Dodgers, who come into town Monday, have 10 players on the disabled list, including No. 2 starter Rich Hill, second baseman Logan Forsythe, and left fielder Andre Ethier. The Rockies, the best team in the NL West thus far, are off to this start without big offseason acquisition Ian Desmond and young slugger David Dahl. Jon Gray, their opening day starter, went on the DL after facing the Giants in San Francisco. Chad Bettis, a rotation member, is getting treatment for testicular cancer. 

This division is better than expected, and as the end of April approaches, the Giants are bringing up the rear. Bochy’s plea for urgency was one that would have fit right in with last season’s second half. Back then, the Giants could at least lean on a huge start that got them into the postseason. As they flew home Sunday, there was nothing to fall back on but a simple truth.

This is the team. It must play better.

“We have everything we need in this room,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes you need to go out on the field and prove it.”

 

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

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DENVER — Bruce Bochy spent about 10 minutes before Sunday’s game talking about potential options in left field and center. The problems for this lineup, however, currently go much deeper than the outfield. 

A day after the Giants managed just four hits off Antonio Senzatela, the bats went completely limp against fellow Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland. The Giants were shut out 8-0, a rarity at Coors Field. They were blanked twice on the road trip and scored just 10 runs during a five-game swing through Kansas City and Denver. 

The sweep at Coors Field was the Giants' first since 2002. At 6-13, they have the worst record in the National League.

For the fourth time in seven games, and third time on this five-game road trip, the Giants went one time through the order without a baserunner. That puts added pressure on your starter, and Jeff Samardzija couldn’t keep it close. Charlie Blackmon hit a leadoff liner to right that was misplayed into a triple and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Gerardo Parra got a spinner down in the zone in the fourth and blasted a two-run shot to right. 

As they did Saturday night, the Rockies pulled away with a huge rally. Nolan Arenado’s infield single and a walk of Carlos Gonzalez set the table in the sixth. Gerardo Parra lined a single to center and all runners advanced when Gorkys Hernandez kicked it. Trevor Story’s single to right was bobbled by Hunter Pence and two more scored. Blackmon’s double made it 8-0.

Starting pitching report: Samardzija was charged with seven earned in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 7.40 ERA through four starts. The starting staff has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the majors. That won’t play, not when you’ve spent most of your resources the last two years on starters. 

Bullpen report: Hunter Strickland's Mullet had a scoreless debut. 

At the plate: Nope. 

In the field: Brandon Belt’s first start in left this season was rather uneventful. He caught a liner right at him in the first and came up inches short on a diving attempt in foul territory. Belt moved to right in the seventh inning. He had one previous inning there in the big leagues but he actually prefers right because it’s the same angle as his normal position. Belt gloved a liner right at him in the eighth. 

Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 42,011 human beings and one donkey, who was a menace. 

Up next: The first look at the Dodgers. The Giants will see Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and likely Julio Urias in the four-game series.