“I’ve always been an advocate against that kind of thing,” Bumgarner said. “I have to give all my concentration on getting these guys out.”
Bumgarner accomplished that goal. The leader of San Francisco’s pitching staff delivered a familiar effort, allowing three runs and four hits in seven innings before leaving the game with the score tied. The Giants ultimately lost to the San Diego Padres, 5-3, as former teammate Hector Sanchez belted a two-run, ninth-inning homer.
Bumgarner did express a modicum of satisfaction after his all-but-triumphant return to the Giants’ pitching rotation.
“I will say it’s definitely nice to get back out there,” he said, adding that he was “happy for sure” to last seven innings.
Bumgarner made his first appearance since April 19, one day before he sprained his left (throwing) shoulder and sustained bruised ribs in a dirt-bike accident. Having endured a disappointing season, the Giants welcomed Bumgarner’s return as if it were a break in the clouds.
“It’s good to have him back,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the four-time All-Star and 2014 postseason hero. “He gives us a presence and he gave us a chance to win.”
Bumgarner accomplished that immediately by striking out the side on 20 pitches in the first inning.
“That was impressive, the way he located,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “He was pretty sharp across the board.”
“To see him back in action, he looks the same,” Bochy said. “His delivery and everything looked good.”
Bumgarner’s brief lapses — demonstrated by his vulnerability to the long ball — also looked familiar. He retired the first seven batters he faced before Matt Szczur homered in the third. One inning later, Jabari Blash clobbered a two-run homer.
Both clouts came on 2-2 curveballs. Bumgarner explained his pitch selection.
“A curveball’s coming down, so when the guy hits it, it’s going to obviously [fly],” he said. “If he takes it, it’s going to end up lower than he’d like to make contact, so I wanted to throw strikes. I felt they would’ve ended up close to the bottom of the zone. That’s all you can do. Obviously looking back, it was the wrong idea.”
Mostly, however, Bumgarner maintained the right approach.
“I tried to be all business about it,” he said.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.