Nats' bats no match for deceptive, effective Bumgarner

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Nats' bats no match for deceptive, effective Bumgarner

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Madison Bumgarner went the distance in theGiants 6-1 win Tuesday, and he did so againstsome serious competition.The Washington Nationals lead Major League Baseball with 72 wins, even afterthe loss. That whopping win total is a result of a 108 run differentialheading into the game, which was the best in the big leagues until the Giantsput a dent in it. Davey Johnsons squad is also fearless away from NationalsPark. Prior to Tuesdays loss, Washington was 40-22 on the road. Of course,that mark is the best in baseball as well. Since the All-Star break, Washingtonleads the National League in runs scored with 170, which includes the 14 runsthey scored in Mondays game on an AT&T Park-record 21 hits.But Bumgarner didnt buckle under the pressure of facing such a potent lineup,even with first place in the National League West on the line following aDodger win. He allowed just five hits and a walk and struck out six in the second complete game of his career, which included 108 pitches, 74 for strikes.Jayson Werth, who scored the lone run off Bumgarner after he tripled on a ballthat glanced off the outstretched glove of Hunter Pence in the alley, was veryreserved in his praise of the Giants young starter.Hes a good pitcher, Werth said. I think hes known forbeing a quality pitcher. Not surprising that he could have a game like that. Hemoves the ball around, throws strikes and changes speed real well. Hes adeceptive lefty.In the losing clubhouse, Werth was ready to move on and talk about theNationals chance at a series win in Wednesdays matinee marquee matchupbetween Tim Lincecum and Stephen Strasburg. However, his teammate Tyler Moorestill appeared frustrated by Bumgarners outing well after the last out. Afteroffering the normal praise of his cutter and command, Moore was asked toexplain Bumgarners dominance.I dont know that angle, Moore muttered under his breath after he went0-for-4 with a strikeout.Bumgarners helicopter delivery is certainly unique, especially when contrastedwith that of Jordan Zimmermann, who utilizes a more textbook technique.Zimmermann, who came into Tuesdays game with the best ERA among startersin the N.L. at 2.35 (only thanks to Ryan Vogelsongs ERA-inflating outingMonday), was impressed with his counterpart.He was mixing it up well tonight, Zimmermann said. Throwingthat cutter and then that fastball. You have to tip your cap to him. Hes beenthrowing the ball well and had another great game tonight.Bumgarners masterful pitching at AT&T Park has become the norm, as he ownsa N.L.-leading 1.88 ERA home ERA, but the Nationals have owned him in threeprior outings. On Independence Day 2012 in the nations capital, Bumgarnerallowed seven earned runs, including three long balls, in just five innings.For his career, Bumgarner was 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA against Washington headinginto Tuesdays game.Like Bumgarner, Lincecum has struggled throughout his career against theNationals to the tune of a 1-3 record and a 5.36 ERA. A day before Bumgarnerwas lit up in Washington earlier this season, the Nationals tagged Lincecum foreight runs, seven earned, in 3.1 innings.If Lincecum can follow in Bumgarners Carhartt bootprints on Wednesday, theGiants will earn a series win over baseballs hottest team. With the Dodgers ona roll, having won eight of their last 11 contests, the Giants could useanother dominant outing from a man with a similarly unique and deceptive delivery.

Giants spring training Day 13: Cain goes two; Melancon has perfect debut

Giants spring training Day 13: Cain goes two; Melancon has perfect debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bruce Bochy planned to give most of his pitchers one-inning stints during the first weekend of spring ball, but Matt Cain stretched it out to 40 pitches on Saturday. 

“I’ve had enough days off the past couple of years,” Cain said, smiling.

In his first start of a crucial spring, Cain threw two innings. He was charged with three hits and two runs, just one of them earned. 

“He’s in a good place right now with his arm strength,” Bochy said. “His delivery is consistent. I’m glad he got a lot of work today, to be honest. It’s something he needs as much as anybody on this staff, is work. He’s going to get it.”

Ty Blach, Cain’s biggest competition for the fifth starter spot, gave up four hits and one earned in his two innings. Neither pitcher was hit particularly hard, and both suffered a bit from iffy defense in the early innings of an 8-6 win over the Cubs. 

The inning separating Cain and Blach was notable for other reasons. Mark Melancon made his Giants debut, getting two groundouts and a fly to right in a quick inning. Melancon received a nice ovation, and he noted the opponent — a Cubs team that helped guarantee the Giants would spend big on a closer — but he didn’t put any added importance on the outing. 

“It doesn’t matter what I do out there right now,” he said. 

Melancon’s new teammates might disagree. Spring or not, the Giants certainly enjoyed watching a closer breeze through his inning. Especially against the Cubs. 

“He’s a pro,” Bochy said. “He’s going to be out there working on stuff, his command and pitches. It was good for Buster (Posey) to catch him. It was a good day for him.”

NOTABLE: On his first swing of the spring, Posey threw his bat up against the visiting dugout. It can only go uphill from there … Bryan Morris had a scoreless debut, striking out one … Josh Osich ran into some trouble in the eighth and gave up a pair of runs, but Bochy appreciated the way he fought his way out of the frame … Former Giants prospect Chris Dominguez started for the Cubs at first base. He had a couple of hits ... If you're headed to Goodyear for tomorrow's game, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, Conor Gillaspie, Jimmy Rollins, Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker, Gorkys Hernandez and Trevor Brown will start behind Matt Moore. Also, if you're headed to Goodyear, I'm sorry. 

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez is limited to DH duty for now because of a sore throwing shoulder. Nuñez said the tightness popped up after some work in the weight room, but he’s not concerned at all. He said he would have played third base if Saturday’s game was a regular season contest. The Giants expect him in the field sometime next week. 

Nuñez also said it took five weeks after the season ended for his hamstring to get back to 100 percent, so apparently that injury was much worse than it first looked. Nuñez was out on the field before every NLDS game, trying to get clearance to return. He never quite got there. 

Will Smith (elbow) is just a day or two from throwing off flat ground, Bochy said. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants had hoped to have Johnny Cueto in camp this weekend, but he remains in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. Cueto is waiting for a visa for his ill father, Domingo, who will travel to Scottsdale with Johnny. 

LIGHTER SIDE: Brandon Crawford spent a couple of minutes learning some of Jeff Samardzija’s mound moves. The impersonation is pretty solid. 

Giants rookie Hwang goes opposite field for first spring homer

Giants rookie Hwang goes opposite field for first spring homer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jae-gyun Hwang spent his final season in Korea focusing on not flipping his bat. The excitement of his first home run in a Giants uniform nearly scuttled that plan.

“If I would have known it was going to go over the wall, I maybe would have thought about (flipping the bat),” Hwang joked. 

Hwang instead busted it nearly all the way to third on a ball that cleared the wall a few feet from the right-field poll. He said he was aiming for a triple off the bat, but the ball had enough backspin to hit the berm. The opposite-field homer came on a two-strike count. 

“I’m sure it's a relief for him to get his first hit, and of course, a homer,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The ball carries here and he’s strong. Once it got up in the air there I thought it would go out. He did a good job of going the other way. You get a couple of strikes, you want to think the other way there.”

Bochy has liked what he’s seen from right-handed hitters the first two games, both victories. The Giants are intent on adding some thunder to their bench and on back-to-back days they have gotten late homers from non-roster invitees. A day after Chris Marrero’s three-run walk-off, Hwang hit a three-run shot. Justin Ruggiano, another right-handed bat, scorched a double in Saturday’s 8-6 win over the Cubs.

“We’ve got some good candidates and good players,” Bochy said. “They have pop. We’ll keep throwing them out there. You hope they make it hard on you, and I’m sure they will.”

Hwang had a rough debut, striking out twice in Friday’s Cactus League opener. He said he was over-swinging. 

“Typically I don’t really get nervous before games, but I got a little nervous and jittery yesterday,” he said through interpreter Mark Kim. “I had unnecessary power in my swings.”

Hwang said coaches approached him after Friday’s game and told him to relax. The easy power that so intrigued the Giants showed up on Saturday.