Bumgarner is latest roadkill victim on Giants staff

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Bumgarner is latest roadkill victim on Giants staff

WASHINGTON Remember that historic, four-game shutout streak? Thatwas fun.

It also happened at AT&T Park. The road is a muchdifferent story for the Giants. There are strange things lurking about. Wildand strange things like opposite-field home runs, which Madison Bumgarnerencountered three times in a five-batter span Wednesday morningafternoon.

Bumgarner got tagged for seven runs and the WashingtonNationals scored nine for the second consecutive game while sticking a sparklerup the Giants rear end in a 9-4 victory on Independence Day.

Some numbers to ponder as you skewer those All-Americankebabs:

--Those sure were majestic blasts to right-center byJhonatan Solano, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse. As for the Giants, they owntwo opposite-field home runs ALL SEASON -- both hit by Buster Posey in April.

--Pablo Sandoval gave the Giants a 3-0 lead with a home runin the first inning. The last Giant OTHER than Sandoval to go deep was MelkyCabrera, off the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw on June 26. That was eight games ago.Or 65 innings, if you prefer.

--Oddly, the Giants entered this series having outscored theNats 317-316. Hard to believe, since the Nationals had out-homered them 80-48.

--The Giants road ERA ballooned to 4.70. As of this moment,that ranks 26th out of 30 major league clubs in road ERA, and is ahalf-run above the league average. Even the broken-armed Colorado Rockies had alower road ERA than the Giants.

--Compare and contrast! The Giants home ERA is 2.42, whichis the second best in the big leagues. (Only the Pittsburgh Pirates, theGiants next opponent, was lower as of this writing.) The Giants home ERA is1.35 runs below the league average.

To summarize and synthesize:

The Giants dont hit a lot of home runs. You knew that. At Thirdand King, thats not an issue. They find a way to manufacture enough runs tosupport their fantastic pitching.

On the road, unless the pitching firms up, theyll have towin more slugfests. And they arent really built to do that. Especially whenits hot. Especially when theres a jet stream to right field.

In the postgame clubhouse, Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasasked if the early start time, the heat or the travel played a role in thesetwo flat losses.

Well, sure, he said. You travel across the country andget acclimated to the time change and have to bounce back and play an earlygame sure it plays a part. But its part of the schedule and you deal withit.

That last sentence was the nugget. The rest was soft-shoe.

Bochy said Bumgarner was just making mistakes, especiallywith two strikes. Its true, the three homers all game on two-strike pitches(2-2 slider to Solano, 2-2 slider to Zimmerman, 0-2 fastball to Morse).Bumgarner also allowed a tying, two-run single to Ian Desmond on a two-out,two-strike pitch in the third inning. But that one was a curveball in a prettygood location that Desmond was able to ground up the middle.

I had a hard time finishing guys, Bumgarner said. It wascarrying today, but they all put the good part of the bat on it.

You can finish all talk of Bumgarner being a last-minute additionto the All-Star team, too. Although much was made of Ryan Vogelsongs snub,nobody asked Bumgarner how he felt to be left off.

Did he put a chip on his shoulder, as Vogelsong did?

No, he said. I knew I pitched good enough to have a shotat it, but a lot of guys better than me got left off the team. So Im notreally too worried about it.

As for that other topic, the widening gap between the Giantshomeroad ERA, dont ask Bumgarner for any revelations about it.

He pointed out that the discrepancy was reversed for him in2010, when he was 6-3 with a 1.91 ERA on the road but asked constantly abouthis 1-3 record and 4.60 ERA at AT&T Park.

Its coincidence, Bumgarner said. Its just the way itsgoing right now."

If it keeps going that way, the Giants probably won't enter the All-Star break as a first-place club.

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.