Giants

Bumgarner still out of whack in loss to Padres

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Bumgarner still out of whack in loss to Padres

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SAN DIEGO Madison Bumgarner was not auditioning for a spotin the Giants postseason rotation Saturday night. Hes one of their horses, asmanager Bruce Bochy reiterated after the game.

The only question is where to slot Bumgarner after MattCain.

And no, Bumgarner did not look like a solid No. 2 starterwhile giving up a pair of home runs in just four innings of a 7-3 loss to theSan Diego Padres at Petco Park.

But in a sense, he firmed up that place in the rotation. Ifthe Giants enter the playoffs as the No. 3 seed, which is looking close tocertain at this point, they would host the first two games at AT&T Park.

And Bumgarners homeroad splits provide a compelling reasonto make sure the big left-hander takes the mound at AT&T Park and nowhereelse.

Bumgarner is 10-3 with a 2.38 ERA at home. With Saturdaysloss, he fell to 7-7 with a 4.40 ERA on the road. And of his 23 home runsallowed, the most by a Giants pitcher since Barry Zito in 2007, all but five ofthose longballs have come on the road.

Oh, we look at all the variables, said Giants managerBruce Bochy, asked about Bumgarners splits. That plays a little part.

The rotation plays a huge part in any postseason drive, andthe Giants pitching staff will not enter the playoffs on the same roll as twoyears ago, when the club posted a 1.78 ERA in September, 2010.

Bumgarner pitched like he was cramming for a midterm,knowing this would be his last chance to iron out issues before the postseason.

I cant go out there and pitch against a big league ballclub and try to work on mechanics, he said. That never works. That might bethe problem. Im thinking about it instead of going out there and throwing it.

Bumgarner is too big a piece to be hidden at home for the entirepostseason. Hell have to execute his pitches better, regardless of where orwhen hes asked to take the ball. The same is true for the rest of therotation.

Right now, hes having trouble repeating pitches and gettingthe ball inside to right-handed hitters. What about his confidence?

Its good, he said. Im not worried about anything. Ivegot plenty of time to work on it. Ive just gotta be able to make pitches whenit counts.

He could work on it with an inning in Wednesdays seasonfinale at Dodger Stadium. Bochy did not discount that possibility, especiallysince Bumgarner would have the longest layoff of all the starters as they enterthe postseason.

That 20-win season didnt materialize, as Bumgarner went 7-7after the break. But he exceeded 208 innings for the first time, finished with191 strikeouts -- exactly as many as a year before -- and shaved down his hitsallowed and WHIP, even if those 23 home runs undid most of those gains.

Still, Bochy looks at Bumgarners drivers license and willtake that kind of season from a 23-year-old.

Its been a real nice season for him, Bochy said. Likeeverybody, hes had his little rut there. Today hes fighting himself. Butoverall, an outstanding season. Hes one of our horses and hes done a reallynice job.

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

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As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

LOS ANGELES — The Giants left their dugout quickly after Friday’s loss, escaping a celebration on the mound and a fireworks show in the sky. As Dodger Stadium shook with cheers, Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani. 

“He’s good,” Bochy said, laughing. “I absolutely would play him every day.”

Earlier in the week, when it became known that Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley were headed to Japan to scout Otani, Bochy said he couldn’t imagine a player pitching and then moving to the outfield between starts. What changed? 

Perhaps it was the tape Bochy saw. Otani throws 100 mph and hits homers with ease. Or perhaps it was the game he watched Friday. The Giants lost for the 94th time, with the big blow coming from a 22-year-old Dodgers star. Cody Bellinger’s blast was the difference in a 4-2 win, and the Giants don’t have a Bellinger, or anything close. Otani, 23, is a long shot for a team that very well could finish with the worst record in baseball. Still, he’s the kind of talent that could help pull the Giants closer in a hurry. He’s the  kind of talent they haven’t developed in years, and Bochy certainly sounded a bit wistful as he talked of the power Bellinger has put on display. 

“You call up a guy and he does that — that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a rare deal.”

The ninth inning of the Dodgers’ clincher reinforced that point for the Giants. They got a homer from Pablo Sandoval, but he’s playing only because Christian Arroyo — the Giants’ best prospect bet this year — is hurt. Ryder Jones, their 23-year-old prospect, struck out to end the night, dropping his average to .180. 

That set off a celebration for Bellinger and the Dodgers. They have won five straight NL West titles, with three of the last four clinched against the Giants. 

“Congrats to them,” Bochy said. “They’ve had a tremendous year across the board, and they’ve played great baseball. They brought some guys up that really did a great job for them. It’s well deserved.”

Bochy said it was not difficult to watch this one. The division has been wrapped up for months, with only a September slide keeping the Dodgers from clinching earlier. 

“We knew what we were facing here,” Bochy said. 

The Giants have two more against the Dodgers and then six more before a long winter. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will host an NLDS series here at Dodger Stadium. Both Bochy and starter Jeff Samardzija made the same observation, that the Dodgers will have a hard time cutting their deep roster down to 25 postseason players. 

That’s a nice problem to have. It’s a foreign one right now for the Giants, who have a serious talent gap and no clear solutions internally. It’s no wonder, then, that Bochy has all of a sudden become so intrigued by a wondrous talent overseas. 

Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

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Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — When the Giants gathered for spring training in February, team officials thought they had put together a rotation with four 200-inning arms. The starters didn’t come close to hitting that lofty goal, but one Giant got to the 200-inning mark Friday night. 

Jeff Samardzija hit 200 innings in the third inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium, reaching the standard for the fifth consecutive season. Samardzija also became the first Giant this year to reach 200 strikeouts when he struck out Curtis Granderson to open the second inning. The right-hander will be the only member of the rotation to reach either milestone, with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto limited by injuries and Matt Moore having a down year. 

“These guys like Jeff that are able to handle that workload that he does and log 200 innings and have durability, that’s invaluable,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You look at what it does for the ‘pen but also the quality of innings he gives you. His record should be different with how he has thrown the ball — he can’t control that. But the workload itself is important.”

Samardzija became the first Giants right-hander to strike out 200 in a season since Tim Lincecum (220) in 2011. Samardzija joined Carlos Martinez as the only National League pitchers who have thrown 200 innings this year, and Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Robbie Ray, Martinez and Zack Greinke in the league’s 200-strikeout club.