KANSAS CITY — There are many ugly stats that sum up a 6-10 start to the season for the Giants, but the one that explains how they’re winless in Madison Bumgarner’s four starts might be the most vomit-inducing.
The Giants have scored five runs with Bumgarner on the mound this season. He has driven in two of them.
The group that had given Bumgarner three runs of support through three winless starts was blanked on Wednesday by Jason Vargas and two Royals relievers. The Giants lost 2-0 in Bumgarner’s return to Kauffman Stadium, continuing a disturbing April trend.
“The story was not him,” interim manager Ron Wotus said. “He did his job. We just couldn’t score a run.”
If there’s increasing frustration, Bumgarner didn’t show it. He blamed himself for not covering first quickly enough on the first run of the night. He said he missed quite a bit with his command, and he insisted he won’t press if this lack of support continues.
“I feel like there’s no chance of that,” he said. “I’ve been around and I’ve seen enough to know how this works and what I’ve got to do.”
The run that held up as the game-winner came on a play that is usually made, and that was part of the problem for Bumgarner. With a runner on third and two down in the fifth, Mike Moustakas hit a hard liner at Brandon Belt. The first baseman couldn’t field it cleanly and Moustakas slid in safely to first with an RBI infield single. Bumgarner was a beat behind him with the tag.
“I got my feet tangled there and it’s easy to take Belt for granted because he’s such a good defensive first baseman,” Bumgarner said. “I should’ve been there a little sooner.”
Against Vargas, that would be the only play that mattered. The lefty lowered his ERA to a sparkling 0.44, baffling the Giants with well-placed fastballs and a devastating changeup. For the third time in four games, the lineup failed to put a runner on in the first three innings. Vargas threw well, but it’s not exactly a murderer’s row that has set the Giants down in those three games: Tyler Chatwood, Jason Hammel and Vargas.
Wotus said he’s not concerned about the slow starts, noting that it’s a fluke of a long season. When you couple it with the Giants’ inability to come back late, however, it’s a bad marriage.
Wotus will turn the big chair back over to manager Bruce Bochy on Friday, and perhaps two days watching on the couch have led to some new thoughts about how to jumpstart an offense that all too often bogs down.
At the very least, the Giants appear close to making a change in the outfield. Michael Morse and Mac Williamson played a rehab game Wednesday in San Jose and both will join Triple-A Sacramento on Friday. Fresh blood can’t come soon enough. After Wednesday’s game, Gorkys Hernandez, Chris Marrero and Aaron Hill (who has played out of position several times) have nine hits in 83 combined at-bats.
Morse could be ready as soon as next week, team officials said Wednesday. Two other options aren't immediately in play. Justin Ruggiano was placed on the Triple-A DL and Melvin Upton Jr. was injured during an extended spring training game.