It takes a great deal for Mrs SnakePit to speak ill of a Diamondback player. But when she does... They are dead to her. And tonight, she'd had enough of Madison Bumgarner. The invective unleashed was of a level not heard since the latter days of the Eric Byrnes contract extension. Among the statements which came from her lips - at least, those that would not violate the site's prohibition on profanity:
- How much are we paying him?
- No, really. How much?
- He's thinking about buying a new vacation home in Flagstaff, I bet.
- Why is he still pitching?
- Don't they have anyone better?
- Maybe he should do front-flips on the way to the mound, at least give us some entertainment.
[I told you she didn't like Eric Byrnes...]
To no great surprise, the visitors took the lead in the first. The Athletics got a lead-off double, and with one out, the runner took off for third. It looked like Bumgarner forgot about the runner. Stephen Vogt's throw sailed over third; fortunately, Nick Ahmed was alertly backing up the play and the runner had to stay. It was just a momentary reprieve, as the next batter grounded out softly to second, and the run scored. Arizona came in hitting .179 with RISP. Their .617 OPS ranked 12th in the NL, and the first inning didn't help. Tim Locastro legged out an infield hit and Kole Calhoun walked, to put two on with no outs. But Asdrubal Cabrera K'd and David Peralta hit into an inning-ending double-play.
Bumgarner put up a zero in the second, but it was almost entirely due to Ahmed. The lower half of the A's order had been struggling, but a single and double put runners on second and third with no outs. The next batter lined a 106 mph ball that seemed destined for left field, but somehow Ahmed leaped up to snag it, then fired to second to double off the runner (below). It was an amazing play. MadBum, learning from previous mistakes, walked the #8 hitter to get to the pitcher, and retired him to end the inning. But again, the visitors were making a lot more hard contact. Through three innings, the Athletics had put eight balls in play over 85 mph: the Diamondbacks, one.
106 mph off the bat is no match for Air Ahmed. pic.twitter.com/icrJxa8DsK— Bally Sports Arizona (@BallySportSAZ) April 13, 2021
And it was in the third that Oakland scored two more. After a leadoff walk, there were two consecutive hits that you feel Eduardo Escobar could probably have handled better. The second scored a pair of runs, though it was bizarre. Coming home, the second runner's helmet flew off and hit Vogt, apparently distracting home so the throw home from Nick went past him, allowing the runner to take third. Ahmed was the unlucky recipient of an error on the play, because somebody had to. Bumgarner did strand the runner, and his one-out walk helped get the D-backs on the board. Locastro also walked, and both scored on the subsequent Calhoun single and Cabrera sacrifice fly. That made it a one-run game, 3-2 to Oakland.
Both sides were retired 1-2-3 in the fourth, which was probably more notable for Bumgarner than his opposite number. It was his thirteenth inning of the season, but only his third without allowing a base-runner. But just like all his other starts for Arizona, there would be no quality start for Madison. He fell apart in the fifth, first horribly notching a pick-off throw to third, then serving up a long home-run to Matt Chapman. He hit the next batter, eventually forcing Torey Lovullo to replace him. Bumgarner’s final line: six runs, all earned, in 4.2 innings, on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts. His ERA, after briefly dipping into single digits, ended the night higher than it was coming in, at 11.20.
After falling behind 6-2, the Diamondbacks had a chance to pull somewhat back in the bottom of the fifth. Two walks and an error loaded the bases with one out, but Cabrera popped up on the first pitch, and David Peralta flew out. After a seven-pitch inning by Caleb Smith, Arizona did get a run on in the bottom of the sixth. Josh VanMeter had a lead-off triple, and scored one out later on an Ahmed groundout. Still: 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position to this point. The numbers improved in the seventh as two-out hits from Cabrera and Peralta each drove in run. With Smith putting up another scoreless inning, it was now only 6-5 to Oakland.
Unfortunately, Kevin Ginkel wasn't able to keep it there. A double down the line in left and a single to right brought a man home, the runner just sliding under Vogt's tag as the ball from Calhoun to the plate took a high hop. Stefan Crichton fared even worse in the ninth, with a walk, wild pitch, bloop RBI single and a dubious bit of pitch selection (per Bob Brenly) leading to an RBI double, made it 9-5, effectively putting the game out of reach. [Though, to be honest, Bumgarner had more or less done that already] Matt Peacock had to come in and get the last out. Calhoun got his third hit in the bottom of the ninth, but the modest Diamondbacks winning streak ended at two.
Outside of Kole, Locastro was on base three times, with a hit and two walks, and the hitters did generally show good patience drawing five walks, all in the front five innings off A’s starter Chris Bassitt. But the hole Bumgarner dug for them was always going to be tough to climb out of, and outside of Ahmed’s Play of the Year candidate, the defense was wobbly as well. It was another long, drawn-out contest at 3:29, though with the teams combining for 14 runs on 19 hits, there is some excuse. The crowd at Chase was 8.768, which I imagine is the first time in franchise history the team has failed to break ten thousand in attendance.
Torey Lovullo: “There are some identifiable things” that the team can do better. With regard to Bumgarner, “it’s a work in progress”, and it’s a question of getting ahead hitter and finishing off hitters. “We’re going to spit this one out and be ready to go tomorrow.” He was asked about the “work in progress” comment, with regard to Bumgarner’s stature, and replied that “Sometimes, things don’t work the way you want to... We know what he’s capable of, but he ain’t gonna stop trying..” Torey stressed that “I’m going to continue to believe in him, continue to support him.”
Madison Bumgarner did speak to the media, what was obviously a tough post game interview for him. Of course he sounded very dejected and frustrated, but to his credit he “faced” the music and tried to answer the questions. “I’ve got to give us a lot better chance than I have been doing.” He couldn’t point to one single thing, but it was “a little bit of everything,” but mentioned getting behind in the count too much. Jack asked him his thoughts about the change-up and why he decided not to try to implement that pitch this spring:
It’s such a tough pitch for me. I’ve never been able to throw it very good. I mean, I’m gonna have to at some point, but it’s hard to turn to that pitch when you’re struggling because it’s my fourth best pitch. I’ve never had a very good feel for it. There’s been days here or there where I throw a few good ones. I don’t know, it’s tough to convince myself to throw it when you don’t have a lot of confidence in it.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Demolition Man: Kole Calhoun, +26.8%
Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot: Madison Bumgarner, -37.2%
Party at Kitty and Stud's: Eduardo Escobar, -11.9%
357 comments in the GDT, which is pretty good for a fairly crappy game on a Monday night. Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, DORRITO, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Imstillhungry95, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Schilling2001, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, gzimmerm, kilnborn, makattack71, redsedona and since_98. Comment of the thread - for the second of my recaps in a row, so I’m expecting a check in the post - to ish95, for his savage shade to a pro-DH comment.
This is just a two-game set, so the series finale is tomorrow. It’s a day game, with a 12:40 pm first pitch, and will see the season debut of Zac Gallen. I’m hoping it will therefore be slightly better pitched than tonight’s contest.