KANSAS CITY — For years, things have just gone Madison Bumgarner’s way. When the Giants needed a big start, he’s been the guy.
So far, as well as he’s pitched in three of his four outings, the Giants have lost every time he’s taken the mound so far in 2017.
Wednesday’s 2-0 loss in Kansas City was just the latest of these episodes. Bumgarner was solid, limiting the Royals to one run over six innings, but Jason Vargas and the Kansas City bullpen shut the San Francisco offense down, limiting the Giants to just four hits and a walk while striking out 10.
Vargas’ nine strikeouts were one shy of his career high. Usually a soft-tosser who pitches to contact, Vargas has been masterful so far in 2017, winning all three of his starts while allowing just one run. In his last two starts, against the A’s and the Giants, he has thrown 14 2/3 shutout innings while striking out 17.
As for Bumgarner, he wasn’t perfect, but he was sharp enough that even a below-average offense would have been enough to give him a shot at a win. Facing a pesky Kansas City lineup that sacrifices power and patience for the sake of making contact, he yielded seven hits while striking out just four. He got out of a jam in the second when Eduardo Nunez snared a line drive off the bat of Cheslor Cuthbert. Luck evened out in the fifth when Mike Moustakas’ hard-hit grounder was knocked down by Brandon Belt, but Moustakas beat the throw and dove into first ahead of Bumgarner’s tag. Paulo Orlando, whose steal of second base in the inning was reviewed, scored on the play.
Kansas City tacked on a run in the eighth when Eric Hosmer doubled off Derek Law and scored on Salvador Perez’s RBI single.
Bumgarner needed a below-average offense, but the San Francisco bats were downright bad. Vargas retired the first 13 men he faced, including six on strikeouts.
Kelvin Herrera closed out the game despite issuing a leadoff walk in the ninth.