The Giants starting pitching has been the backbone of their success. It’s what compensates for their mediocre to average lineup.
But that was far from the case over their most recent road trip to Chicago and Milwaukee, where their starters combined to total a 6.92 ERA. Matt Cain struggled, Ryan Vogelsong was shaky, Tim Lincecum yielded another big inning and even the seemingly invincible Barry Zito struggled.
He didn’t struggle in his fourth start of the season. He certainly could’ve exacerbated the situation with a rocky outing, but he pitched six innings and allowed just two runs on four hits while issuing no walks and 10 strikeouts. If anything, he alienated himself as the lone Giants starter who’s not in a funk.
Bumgarner’s solid outing against the San Diego Padres was much needed. But he wasn’t credited with a win. This was partly his fault. During an 18-pitch sixth inning, Chase Headley sent an 88 MPH slider into the left field bleachers to tie the score at two. Despite his low pitch count after six (99 pitches), Bumgarner wouldn’t come back out in the seventh.
He also failed to help himself in the bottom of the sixth inning when he came within inches of grounding into a rare triple play. Although the Padres’ infield alignment was a bit out of the norm, Bumgarner’s sharp ground-ball still found a glove that enabled three crisp tosses around the diamond. He barely beat out the throw at first base.
Bumgarner’s quality start wasn’t entirely wasted, though. With Andres Torres on second in the bottom of the ninth, Angel Pagan smacked a walk-off double down the right field line. So, Bumgarner kept them close. His record remains 3-0 and his ERA saw a slight uptick to 2.05.
Headley’s first-inning sacrifice fly initiated an inevitable sigh of “here we go again” from Giants fans. Chris Denorfia doubled to leadoff the game and Everth Cabrera bunted him over to set the table for Headley.
San Francisco would respond with a sacrifice fly of their own in the bottom half of the first against Edinson Volquez. Angel Pagan singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Marco Scutaro walked. After Pablo Sandoval advanced them over to second and third, Buster Posey lined a medium deep fly ball into center field to tie the game.
Along with his sixth RBI of the year, Posey scored from first on Hunter Pence’s RBI double in the fourth inning.
The headline, though, was Bumgarner’s ability to end the Giants’ starting pitching woes. His slider and fastball were both weapons through his six innings of work. The effectiveness of those two pitches allowed him to strike out a batter in each of his six innings of work. Not to mention that his change-up was a nice equalizer in speed.