Madison Bumgarner SF Giants

The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers played against each other for 30 innings and over 11 hours, and the Giants came away with two wins while outscoring the Dodgers 6-5. If this series was any indication of how this season’s going to go, we’re in for a grueling (and thrilling) summer and fall.

You could either focus on the five runs allowed (hey!) or the six runs scored (oh). Since each team went 0-for-5 with the bases loaded in this series, there was probably some bad offensive luck involved here. Both lineups looked decent before this series started, and it’ll probably play out that way over 162. But when San Francisco’s bullpen is pitching this well, it’s easy to point to the big-money guys in the heart of the order and wish for three easy victories.

“We’ve got some guys that, to be honest, they’re not swinging the bat well right now. They haven’t gotten into the groove and their timing. When you’re not clicking offensively, two or three of your bigger bats aren’t swinging well, it’s hard to put runs on the board,” said Bruce Bochy.

“This team should put up more runs. It should drive the ball better. I know it’s a wait and see, but that’s how I feel.”

The Giants went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base, including two each in the last two innings.

Madison Bumgarner only lasted 4.1 innings during Thursday’s 2-1 series-salvaging win for the Dodgers. It was the second time he’s failed to go five innings this season. He allowed two runs and dealt with rookie umpire Seth Buckminster’s unyielding strike zone.

“I felt like I made some pretty good pitches there and they didn’t go my way in some big situations,” said Bumgarner, who wouldn’t go any further but was clearly frustrated.

From Matt Kemp’s at-bat in the fourth inning:

Kemp AB strike

Tim Federowicz’s walk, also in the fourth:

Federowicz walk

There were plenty of other examples, but gameday is different than Brooks Baseball. I’m a total nerd for Brooks Baseball, and Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles checked out their strikezone plot from today’s game. Spoiler: maybe the strike zone wasn’t that crazy, and both Bochy and Bumgarner may have hoped for a little Tommy Glavine treatment that wasn’t coming.

In addition, the zone wasn’t the only reason why his pitch count was already at 89 before the fifth inning started. Either he’s too good at missing bats, the bats are hitting too many pitches out of play, or he’s a tad strikeout-happy through four starts.

Bumgarner struck out six today, giving him 26 strikeouts on the season in 20.2 innings. That’s 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings, a ridiculously high rate. He’s also throwing 19.5 pitches per inning, so it’s pretty easy to do the math and see why he isn’t averaging six innings per start in the season’s opening month. In 2012 he had 8.3 K/9 and threw 15.7 pitches per inning. His K/9 rose to 8.9 in 2013, when he threw 16.4 pitches per frame. So “striking out too many dudes” probably isn’t a permanent problem for Bumgarner.

Bochy didn’t seem worried when I brought up these concerns after the game, focusing instead on the pesky Dodgers hitters and the home plate umpire.

“He threw a lot of strikes and had some long at-bats. A few of those hitters, they kept fouling balls off,” said Bruce Bochy, who tossed a subtle dig Buckminster’s way.

“I thought he made some good pitches. For some reason, the outside corner today was hard to get for him. That was frustrating. That could’ve shortened up a couple at-bats. But he’s not pitching away from contact. He’s going at ‘em.”

Does Bumgarner think he’s focusing too much on striking guys out?

“I don’t think so. I’m just trying to make pitches. What I want to do is make pitches and get good, quick outs and get off the field as quick as we can. Go deep into ballgames, give us a chance to win. I’m just throwing a lot of pitches right now. I’ve got to find a way to get past it,” he said.

Bumgarner really did make some great pitches, and the Dodgers had a hell of a time catching up to his fastball. He struck out three of the first four hitters he faced, all on 93-mph fastballs either at or above the belt. Bumgarner is frustrated with today’s result, but he’s been around long enough to know that things will even themselves out as long as he continues pitching this well. Guys won’t foul off so many pitches every game, and Buckminster won’t always be behind the plate.

Extra BASGs

– Pablo Sandoval came through with a couple singles yesterday, but his average dropped to .175 after going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts today.

“He’s really pressing, I think, more than anything. It’s human nature for these guys, they don’t get off to a good start, they’re not getting their numbers, they’re hitting .180 or whatever. So they start fighting that,” said Bochy.

“Maybe I’ll drop him down in the order, try to take some pressure off him. He’s a good hitter.”

– Sandoval may end up hitting fifth tomorrow night in San Diego, but that’s not a lock if Buster Posey gets a day off. Posey slid awkwardly into second base last night and caught a foul tip off his shoulder today. Bochy said he’d talk to Posey on the flight to see how he’s feeling.

“There’s a chance he won’t be behind the plate,” Bochy said.

Talkin’ Ehire Adrianza:

“I was really happy for him. What a great day he had, and that goes unnoticed when you lose a game like this. Steps in there and gets three hits. He’s probably had the toughest role of anybody, pinch-hitting against tough pitching,” said Bochy. “He threw out a very nice game. That should do a lot for his confidence. I need to find a way to find him a few more starts.”

– Like I mentioned earlier, the bullpen was phenomenal yet again. Yusmeiro Petit threw 2.2 scoreless innings and Jeremy Affeldt chipped in two shutout innings of his own in his 2014 debut.

“It didn’t start out how I wanted it to, with a leadoff double,” Affeldt said. “I felt pretty calm actually out there. I’m very thankful that I’m out there pitching without pain and I can compete and have some fun.”

– In truth, this game was rather boring except for three innings. The Giants made it interesting in the eighth and ninth against Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen, but fell just short. I’m pretty sure we saw that exact same inning from Wilson about 80 times when he was with the Giants.

The second inning was pretty action-packed, with the Dodgers scraping together a run in the top half and Yasiel Puig showing why he’s rapidly becoming the league’s most fascinating/maddening player. A terrible attempt at a basket catch meant dropping Brandon Hicks’ lazy fly ball with Brandon Belt on first. But while Puig doesn’t always show great focus, his fast-twitch muscles are without compare. He picked up the ball and fired it to second base in about 0.02 seconds, barely forcing Belt.

“Belt just got too far off and had his momentum going to first. You want to get into a position where you can go either way once he drops it. He admitted he went too far,” Bochy said. “That was a big play.”

Then Blanco followed with a curving liner that Puig caught over his left shoulder. The route he took looked awfully strange, but the wind was blowing pretty strong from right to left. Bochy didn’t seem like he was in any mood to give Puig much credit, however.

“It just looked like he reached up and caught it. I haven’t looked at the replay, but it looked like it just found his glove. He threw it up there and he (caught) it.”