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.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.