Bumgarner evaluates his first start back with Giants: 'I'll take that anytime'

Bumgarner evaluates his first start back with Giants: 'I'll take that anytime'

SAN DIEGO — Madison Bumgarner is a perfectionist on the mound, but even he likely didn’t scrip a return like the one he had around 6 p.m. Saturday night. 

Bumgarner struck out the side in his first MLB inning since April 19, showing right from the jump that he’s the same guy. The rest of his night included some rockier moments, and the Giants ultimately lost, but they at least could walk away knowing that their ace is fine.

The team? Not so much. But Bumgarner is fine. 

“It’s good to have him back,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Overall, I thought he did a real nice job.”

Bochy did not attend any of Bumgarner’s rehab starts, although he watched video. In that sense, seeing Bumgarner stand a few feet away and sling cutters in on hands was a bit of a relief. He always felt his lefty would be fine after a dirt bike accident, but this night confirmed it.

“To see him back in action, he looked the same,” Bochy said. “His delivery and everything looked good. The command was really good tonight.”

Unfortunately for Bochy, his Giants looked the same, too. They failed to take advantage of Jhoulys Chacin’s early wobbles, scoring just two runs in the first and one in the sixth. They went down in a manner that was equally surprising and not. Hector Sanchez, the longtime backup to Buster Posey, crushed a Steven Okert pitch into the night to walk the Giants off and clinch a 5-3 win for his new team. 

Bumgarner felt some of the sting of that. On this night, he was sharp enough that he could have gone just about the distance. But Bumgarner’s pitch count was right around 100, and he was pulled after getting through seven on 102 pitches. Bumgarner was charged with three earned on four hits, including two homers. 

“I felt pretty good the whole time,” he said. “We were making pitches pretty much from the first inning on. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go much over 100 (pitches). They weren’t going to let me, anyway. Going out for seven, I’ll take that anytime.”

Bumgarner gave up two homers, both on two-strike curveballs. It took him some time during the rehab process to get his breaking pitches squared away, but he said this night wasn’t about rust. 

“They weren’t bad pitches,” he said. “Looking back, they were the wrong pitches.”

Okert made the wrong pitch, too. With the winning run on second and an open base, he threw a fat slider that Sanchez hit into the Western Metal Supply Co. building. The catcher hit .240 with 10 homers in five years with the Giants. In two seasons facing them, he is 6 for 12 with three homers and eight RBI. Sanchez has four homers this season and two have come in the ninth inning against the Giants. A third came against Sergio Romo, his former teammate. 

You can add that to the long list of things that have gone wrong in this 2017 season. The list of things that have gone right is short, but the Giants can at least sleep easier knowing that Bumgarner will carry his usual heavy load every five days the rest of the season. 

Bumgarner was not ready to look that far down the line. He didn’t think big picture Saturday. He said he was happy to be back, but when asked about the remaining schedule, he shrugged. What does he want to accomplish?

“Win tomorrow,” he said. 

Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate


Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

SACRAMENTO -- A young man named Clayton Blackburn walked into the home clubhouse at Raley Field on Tuesday decked out in Round Rock gear. 

"You're here for my start?" he said, smiling.

Sorry, Clayton, I was on Panda Watch for two days. But it was fun watching Blackburn, DFA’d in a weird move earlier this year, face former teammates. Blackburn hasn't had a great season with Texas, but he is still just 24 and he has gotten into terrific shape. Given what happened during his call-up last year, you should root for him to get a second chance. 

Blackburn gave up three runs over six innings against his former team. The River Cats won on Jarrett Parker’s walk-off homer to dead center with two outs in the ninth. Parker was one of many familiar faces in the lineup Tuesday. Here are some thoughts on guys you know, and guys you will: 

--- Trevor Brown is the backup catcher in Sacramento, which is certainly a fall from his run as Buster Posey's backup. Brown is batting .168 in what has been a very frustrating season for him. The groin injury that slowed him early lingered, he had a concussion, and he hasn't been able to find any BABIP luck. This year seems a lost one for a guy who was a big part of 2016. I’m still intrigued by his versatility.

--- Chris Shaw is the latest podcast guest. You can stream it here. We talked about his power, his move to left, thinking he was a Ray, and more. I didn't see many at-bats, but I saw enough in left field to be confident he'll be fine out there. 

--- Parker started in center field and made a nice running catch at the wall. He wouldn't hold up as a big league center fielder, but perhaps the Giants should throw him out there a few times down the stretch to see if he can be a backup option next season. Parker said he finally found his swing over the past few games. His rehab assignment ends in about a week, and he’s expected back in San Francisco. 

--- Reyes Moronta, who spent a day in the majors in May, was promoted to Triple-A. In his first inning, Drew Stubbs took him deep. I found that quirky. It's been a long season with far too many transactions. 

--- If Steven Duggar would stay healthy, he would probably make it up to SF in September. Unfortunately, his hamstring was tight again this week, keeping him out of San Jose’s lineup for a few days. Speaking of health: Tyler Beede’s groin injury will keep him out longer than just the standard DL time … Melvin Upton Jr. is still in Sacramento rehabbing a shoulder injury, but he’s not throwing yet so it’s hard to picture him making any noise before September call-up time …Christian Arroyo is in Arizona rehabbing from hand surgery. 

--- Derek Law was smiling because Derek Law is always smiling. He has a 4.32 ERA but said he feels much better than those results. “My slider is back,” Law said. He should be, too, when the Giants expand their roster. There are some other interesting relievers in Sacramento. A first baseman told me opposing hitters grumble about facing D.J. Snelten (1.84 ERA) and Tyler Rogers has a 1.94 ERA as a dirt-scraping right-hander. 

--- A teammate predicted Carlos Moncrief would hit .270 in the big leagues if called up, and he ended up getting that call Wednesday morning. Moncrief is a fun clubhouse addition. He gave Sandoval some good-natured heckling for talking to reporters after going 1 for 4. 

--- The Giants have had a lot of veterans visit San Jose this season. They all bought the postgame spread, but word around the block is that Madison Bumgarner provided the best meal. He had steak and lobster delivered to San Jose Muni. 

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Eduardo Nuñez left San Francisco in a strange way. The third baseman was traded in the middle of Tuesday night’s game and mostly said his goodbyes in a stairwell behind the home dugout at AT&T Park. Before joining the Red Sox, Nuñez took to his social media pages to send a message to the Giants and their fans. 

On Twitter, Nuñez thanked the organization for “the great opportunity and experiences learned” and wished the team the best of luck. His Instagram message was a bit longer. 

“I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing team,” Nuñez wrote. “I value the experiences learned during my time here and I will miss my teammates, the fans, and the beautiful city of San Francisco very much. Best wishes to the Giants organization during the rest of this season. God Bless.”

Nuñez is expected to join the Red Sox on Friday. Boston’s manager, John Farrell, told reporters that his new infielder will get “a high number of at-bats” despite the presence of top prospect Rafael Devers. 

"This is someone who's swinging the bat very well right now,” Farrell said, according to "A high energy player that can run the bases well. He’s got really good line drive power so his .300-plus batting average to mix into this lineup is a good addition."