Giants seek sixth straight win behind Bumgarner

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Giants seek sixth straight win behind Bumgarner

Sept. 16, 2011

GIANTS (80-70) vs.
COLORADO (70-79)

Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on NBC Bay Area

DENVER (AP) -- Madison Bumgarner has arguably been San Francisco's top starting pitcher over the last three weeks, but with close to 200 innings pitched and the Giants' postseason hopes dwindling, the team is considering shutting him down to preserve his arm.

In what could be one of his final outings, Bumgarner looks to win a career-high fifth straight start when he faces the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.

San Francisco (80-70) won its fifth in a row with an 8-5 victory in Thursday's series opener, preventing Arizona from moving closer to clinching the NL West. This surge might be too little too late for the defending World Series champions, however, as the Giants are seven games back with 12 to play.

"We've got a chance," Pablo Sandoval said. "You never know what's going to happen."

Bumgarner (11-12, 3.33 ERA) has done his best to keep the Giants in the playoff picture, recording a 1.30 ERA in winning his last four starts, while striking out 34 and posting a 0.94 WHIP over 27 2-3 innings. Against the Dodgers on Sunday, he allowed a run and three hits with eight strikeouts in five innings of an 8-1 victory, improving to 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA since the All-Star break.

"I'm just making better pitches and having a little better luck at the same time," said Bumgarner, who was 4-9 with a 3.87 before the break. "I don't know if I've gotten stronger. I still feel good. I'm not worried about wins and losses for me. The biggest thing is innings. You want to stay out there and pitch late. That's probably the most important thing."

In his first full season in the majors, the 22-year-old left-hander has amassed 186 2-3 innings, and the Giants plan to take a cautious approach.

"I just like where he's at right now," Bruce Bochy said.

Bumgarner has been solid in his two starts against the Rockies (70-79) this year, recording a 1.38 ERA, but three total runs of support has left him with an 0-1 record.

The Giants had no trouble generating offense in the opener, pounding out 13 hits and scoring eight runs for the third time in five games. They had reached the eight-run mark in only three of their previous 89 contests.

Sandoval led the way Thursday, becoming the 25th Giant to hit for the cycle. The All-Star third baseman is batting .524 with two homers, four doubles and seven RBIs during the winning streak.

URBAN: Giants' Sandoval a true sports hero

San Francisco's suddenly potent offense now tries to make things tough on Alex White (2-1, 8.18), who has allowed nine home runs and has a 1.73 WHIP over 22 innings in four starts for the Rockies.

Five of those homers came against Cincinnati on Saturday. The right-hander, acquired from Cleveland as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, permitted three other hits and seven runs in five innings, but was bailed out by his offense and earned his second straight victory in a 12-7 win.

Troy Tulowitzki (hip) and Todd Helton (back tightness) each missed their second straight game in the opener, and it doesn't seem likely either will play Friday. Their replacements, shortstop Tommy Field and first baseman Jordan Pacheco, both made errors Thursday.

The Rockies are 3-6 without Tulowitzki and 9-16 without Helton.

Headed for 100 losses, Giants quietly give up on "Don't Stop Believin'" tradition

Headed for 100 losses, Giants quietly give up on "Don't Stop Believin'" tradition

SAN FRANCISCO — At some point over the last month, the Giants quietly stopped playing “Don’t Stop Believin’” in the late innings of games they trail. 

It’s unclear exactly when it started, or who made the decision. A number of team employees, surveyed over the past week, had noticed. But nobody knew the exact details. Perhaps the longtime staple of AT&T Park was shelved on July 9, when FanGraphs dropped the playoff odds to 0.00 percent for the first time in a lost season. Maybe it was during a bad loss before that or a bad loss after that. You can take your pick. This season has been filled with so many of them it’s hard to keep track. 

Friday’s stood out, in part because this was the kind of night where Journey briefly made sense. The Giants gave Jeff Samardzija a 4-0 lead in the first inning against a Padres team that spent the early innings kicking and throwing the ball all over the field and making mistakes on the bases. It was 5-1 after three innings. By the sixth, the Padres had tied it. By the seventh, they had the lead. By the eighth, it was a three-run lead. 

Before the bottom of the eighth, the in-stadium crew played Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” for a crowd of a few thousand. Last weekend, Huey Lewis was the fill-in for Journey. On Wednesday, a game the Giants actually came back to win, the scoreboard played a singalong game to “Happy Together” by The Turtles. 

On this night, the Giants actually would come back. Conor Gillaspie hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth, tying the game and sending it into extras. The Giants had trailed by three with one out remaining, but the momentum provided by Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Gillaspie was just a blip. The Padres scored three in the 11th off George Kontos, who has pitched five times over the last eight days and was supposed to get a night to rest. 

Kontos was the last to give up runs in a 12-9 loss, but hardly the only one. Samardzija took blame after failing to get through five with a big early cushion. That put pressure on the tired bullpen, and the relievers blew it over and over again. The Padres scored runs in six consecutive innings at one point and had 20 hits. 

“We couldn’t stop them,” Bruce Bochy said, shaking his head. 

Nothing can apparently stop this skid. The Giants are 37-61 and six games behind the Padres. They are much closer to the No. 1 draft pick than they are to fourth place in their division. 

“Don’t Stop Believin’” survived the 2013 season. It survived 2015 and the second half of last year. Nothing can survive this season.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants lose marathon in extras to Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants lose marathon in extras to Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — A few hundred, maybe a few thousand, stayed to watch the Giants late Friday night. The Giants did not make it worth the effort. 

Conor Gillaspie’s two-out homer in the ninth sent the game to extras, but the Giants lost 12-9 in a game that lasted nearly five hours. The Giants had trailed by three with two outs and nobody on in the ninth. They tied it. Instead of carrying that momentum over, they suffered yet another demoralizing loss. 

They have dropped both games of this series and they trail the Padres -- who had 20 hits -- by six games in the race for fourth place. Those are facts. Here are five more, mostly from earlier, when a young man harbored dreams of leaving a ballpark before 1 a.m. … 

—- Hector Sanchez took Jeff Samardzija deep to lead off the fourth, and at this point it’s flat-out hilarious. Sanchez has seven homers this season and three have come against his former team. He hit two homers at AT&T Park in 296 plate appearances as a Giant, and the fourth-inning blast gave him three in 11 plate appearances as a Padre. He also doubled in a run and singled. It’s an all-time revenge tour. Just go along for the ride. 

—- There were a ton of scouts on hand to watch two starting pitchers who could move in the next 10 days, and they left disappointed. Trevor Cahill gave up six earned on seven hits and four walks and lasted just 3 2/3 innings. Jeff Samardzija gave up eight hits and five earned in 4 1/3 innings. 

—- I dunno man, it’s really hard getting to five of these every night. Sam Dyson was good again. 

—- Gillaspie's pinch-hit homer was the sixth of his career. He's a hero around these parts, but perhaps Bobby Evans should see if a team out there was watching Friday and remembers his October run. Gillaspie could help a contender. 

—- When MLB inevitably introduces a pitch clock and pitchers start complaining, this will be the game I tell them to sit down and try to watch start to finish.