With every outing this season, the San Francisco Giants’ big contracts can either help or hurt a club they won’t be a part of.
Every good start for Madison Bumgarner means that Farhan Zaidi can ask for more and better prospects from a team that needs that one difference-maker at the trade deadline. Every day that Jeff Samardzija stays healthy means more organizational pieces Zaidi can acquire to stock the farm system.
On Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bumgarner — in his second start of the season — didn’t give up a single earned run, but he looked uncomfortable, threw softly and gave give up a grand slam, precipitated by his own throwing error that led to a clamitous five-run third inning that helped the Los Angeles Dodgers withstand a late comeback and escape with a 6-5 win.
If Monday night was an example of what San Francisco can be when all goes right, Tuesday showed just how fragile that balance can be.
Bumgarner, in contrast to his 92-pitch, seven-inning, nine-strikeout season debut in San Diego, managed to survive his first two innings on Tuesday while having “no feel.”
“That’s as lost as I’ve felt up there in a long time, as far as command-wise,” Bumgarner said.
Then, in the third, the aging Russell Martin — back for one more spin with the team that drafted him — sent a dribbler to the left of the mound to lead off the third. Bumgarner sprung off the mound to field it, but threw in the dirt to Brandon Belt at first, who couldn’t pick it.
He then walked his opposing number, Hyun-Jin Ryu — trying to give himself up via sacrifice — on four straight pitches, and allowed an RBI single to Kike Hernandez.
With two on and one out, Bumgarner managed to get shortstop Corey Seager to fly out to Connor Joe in left. The rookie — an infielder by trade — didn’t notice Ryu drifting a bit far off of second, and instead of coming into the ball with the intent to throw, tossed it back to the infield, giving Ryu time to retreat. Instead of gtting out of the inning, he allowed a two-out single to A.J. Pollock before he left a flat, 86-mph cutter out over the outer half of the plate for Cody Bellinger, who sent it over the center field wall for his fifth home run of the season, and fourth career grand slam.
“It’s a shame how that inning unraveled,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “Dribbler back to him, he threw it in the dirt, but nine times out of 10, Belt usually picks that. Then, of course he walked the pitcher. That’s a tough way for that inning to go. Then they got the big hit.”
Bumgarner recovered well enough, and didn’t allow another run for his final three innings, but the Bumgarner that pitched the first three could be something teams remember come trade time.
In the top of the sixth, Bumgarner chipped in on offense and sent his first home run of the season into the left field pavilion, and San Francisco followed up with back-to-back singles from Steven Duggar and Belt. With two on and one out, though, the Giants failed to capitalize, with Evan Longoria striking out and Buster Posey grounding into a force at third. While San Francisco got timely hits in the series-opening win on Monday, on Tuesday the Giants reverted to the mean; coming into the game, they had hit .185 with runners on base, 25th in the Major Leagues.
San Francisco, though, did manage to spark a comeback in the ninth. Longoria doubled off Yimi Garcia, who then walked Posey, necessitating an appearance from Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen.
Jansen got a grounder to first off the bat of Brandon Crawford, but the ball skipped off Max Muncy’s mitt as the Dodgers first baseman tried to start a 3-6-3 double play. He recovered, only to throw high and hard to Jansen covering first. The throw skipped out of Jansen’s glove, loading the bases.
A four-pitch walk to Yangervis Solarte brought a run home, and after striking out Joe, Jansen gave up a first-pitch RBI single up the middle to Gerardo Parra, bringing San Francisco within one. Pinch hitter Pablo Sandoval, though, tried to slip Jansen’s first offering through the hole on the left side of the infield, but Seager was there, easily starting a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
“It was such a big blow there in the third,” Bumgarner said. “Tough for any team to come back from, and we almost did.”
Duggar made a diving grab on a soft liner by Justin Turner in the bottom of the seventh, the first time he’s really landed hard on anything near his surgically-repaired left shoulder. He got up, stretched it out a bit and returned to duty. The liner, though, served as a sacrifice fly to bring home Martin and extend the lead to 6-2 against reliever Nick Vincent. Duggar caught the very next ball — a pop up by A.J. Pollock — to end the inning. Bochy said after the game that Duggar suffered no ill effects.
Newly-acquired outfielder Kevin Pillar pinch hit for Vincent in the top of the eighth. He struck out on seven pitches, but battled. Not bad for a guy fresh off a trans-continental international flight.