Bumgarner moves past 2011 struggles with dominant start to spring

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Bumgarner moves past 2011 struggles with dominant start to spring

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Madison Bumgarner started the 2011 season 0-6, but after keeping the Padres off balance for three innings Thursday in Peoria, its clear the 22-year-old southpaw wants no part of any early season struggles.By blowing his fastball by San Diegos hitters and locating his secondary pitches, Bumgarner became the first Giants starter to complete three innings this spring, striking out five in a scoreless outing. The first-round pick in 2007 has now allowed just one run on three hits and a walk in 5.2 innings and leads the Cactus League in strikeouts.Its still really early but I definitely feel good, Bumgarner said. Command feels pretty good.

RELATED: Madison Bumgarner career stats 2011 game logs splits
Bumgarner said he used his full repertoire against the Padres, but wished he had the opportunity to throw more changeups. Regardless of what hes throwing, Bumgarner is locating like most pitchers his age can only dream of.Its no secret what is motivating Bumgarner. On June 21, he walked off the mound at AT&T Park with his head down after giving up eight runs on nine hits in only a third of an inning against the Twins.
REWIND: Twins pounce on Bumgarner early, Giants fall
That infamous outing dropped Bumgarners record to 3-9, but also may have motivated him as he went on a dominant run to end his second full MLB season. In his next start, Bumgarner allowed a run in seven innings and struck out 11 Indians, starting off a stretch in which he posted a 2.62 ERA and 125 strikeouts with just 22 walks in 120.1 innings pitched over his final 18 starts.Hopefully each year will keep getting better and better, Bumgarner said. I think thats what everybody strives for. Trying to constantly keep learning and dont get complacent and just keeping working hard and trying to get better. So hopefully it will be better.Bumgarner said he learned a lot throughout last season, not just from the forgettable outing against Minnesota, but also from his rotation-mates Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.We all kind of feed off each other, Bumgarner said. It seems like those guys are constantly going out there and throwing at least a quality start and most of the time better I probably drive them crazy asking questions throughout the year. But its definitely nice to have those guys as teammates and be able to learn from them.As for that fateful June night in San Francisco?I just tried to forget about it and move on, he said. You know thats what youre supposed to do anyway but sometimes its easier said than done. I started just focusing on making pitches instead of being out on the mound worrying about mechanics or anything else.A less worried Bumgarner appears poised to fill the Giants second rotation slot. But he isnt overly excited about his promotion, acknowledging that its just to break up right-handed co-aces Lincecum and Cain.While Lincecum and Cain have long been the Giants frontline starters, they may have some competition if Bumgarner continues to mature and develop the way he has in his short service time so far.I learned a lot over the year last year and the year before that, he said. You just keep learning.

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away. 

They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them. 

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line. 

The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts. 

Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres. 

“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”

Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2. 

Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated. 

“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — A day after he did his press conference from a “Game of Thrones” throne, manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy the Giants won their series finale against the Indians and kept that plan in play. In that respect, he’s lucky his team wasn’t facing the Padres on Wednesday. 

The Giants were on Thursday, however, and they continued their baffling stretch of ineptitude against what is supposed to be the worst team in the National League West. The 5-2 loss to San Diego was the 15th in the last 20 meetings between the two teams, one of which has a $200 million payroll and the other of which is actively tanking. 

The Giants had a shot at a comeback in the eighth, but Buster Posey flied out to right with two outs and the bases loaded. Here are five things to know, if you are the curious type: 

—- Madison Bumgarner has faced the Padres twice since returning. In 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs. He is getting hurt by a familiar problem for the 2017 Giants: The Padres have four homers off Bumgarner in those two starts. Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg took him deep Thursday, with Spangenberg hitting one out to the deepest part of the yard on Bumgarner’s final pitch. 

—- This is the first time in Bumgarner’s career that he has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back starts. 

—- Kyle Crick showed good stuff — sitting 96-97 — while stranding a runner on second in the eighth. He followed that with a scoreless ninth. The Giants should make it a priority to throw him into some deeper water over the next two months. 

—- There’s an epidemic these days of outfielders making foolish throws to the plate. We see it just about every night, and it cost the Padres in the sixth. Gorkys Hernandez was on second and he took off right away on Denard Span’s single to right. Renfroe had no play at the plate but he threw it anyway and Span took second. He scored when Eduardo Nuñez singled to left. 

—- The Giants announced their second consecutive sellout. That’s a streak. Maybe?