The San Francisco Giants gave up first place in the NL West in their fifth straight loss on Tuesday night. Their skid continued against the former last place AL Central Minnesota Twins in the first game of the inter-league play series.
Madison Bumgarner took the mound for his 15th start of the season—and the game was all but decided in the top of the first
It was an unheard of 74 degrees at AT&T Park in San Francisco on the first day of summer and the longest day of the year.
And it turned out to be a very long first inning for Madison Bumgarner, who gave up eight earned runs and lasted through just one out before being pulled from the game.
The Giants 21-year-old starter allowed four doubles and four singles to the first eight batters he faced. The Twins tied a major league record for consecutive hits to start a game.
Guillermo Mota, who replaced Bumgarner in the first, pitched four scoreless innings and hit a double, but never made it home. The Giants scored just two runs. One came on an Emmanuel Burriss RBI that broke the Giants 0-31 slide with runners in scoring position. The other came on an Eli Whiteside homer.
Carl Pavano pitched for the Twins and although he said he didn’t have his best stuff after the game, he didn’t need it. He gave up nine hits through eight innings.
The task given to the Giants offense to score at least nine runs for the win, even if they had all nine innings to do it, was unlikely. San Francisco is in last place in all of the majors in runs scored in 2011.
Madison Bumgarner is now 3-9 on the season with a 4.06 era. The 6'5" southpaw is actually a very good young pitcher, who has had some bad luck and one very bad start this season. Despite his numbers, the lefty has not disappointed San Francisco in 2011 after a promising rookie season.
In fact, it has been San Francisco’s offense (or lack thereof) that has disappointed Bumgarner, who has emerged as one of the leagues best starting rotation’s fourth man this year.
Before last night, Bumgarner had tossed nine consecutive quality starts in which he won just three games, in a stretch where he had given up more than two runs just twice.
So what’s a pitcher to do when he can’t get a win? Maybe Bumgarner was checking to see how the Giants offense would respond to something other than a quality performance from him. It sure looked like he was tossing batting practice out there.
Stay tuned for game two of the series on Wednesday night. The Giants will try to halt their losing streak in hopes of reclaiming first place in the NL West. Minnesota looks to extend their winning streak to nine as Nick Blackburn takes on San Francisco’s comeback pitcher Ryan Vogelsong.