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D-backs’ Madison Bumgarner’s struggles intensify in loss vs. Athletics

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner, right, hands the baseball over to manager Torey Lovullo as Bumgarner is taken out of the game during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics Monday, April 12, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — The 2021 MLB season has not gotten off to a great start for pitcher Madison Bumgarner.

The starting pitcher again could not find the answer to stifling the opposing team’s bats in a 9-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

The loss snaps Arizona’s two-game winning streak and dissipates the wave of success the team was riding after its series win the night prior.

“It’s a little bit of everything here and there, it just depends on which game you point at,” Bumgarner said via Zoom of his 2021 struggles. “Nothing has been consistent for me, hadn’t been able to get ahead of guys, put guys away, throwing a lot of pitches, getting behind too much. That’s a recipe for a not very good game like we had tonight and like I had the last three.”

It took just one inning for Bumgarner (0-2) and the D-backs to find themselves facing a deficit.

After a seven-pitch at-bat led to a leadoff double for outfielder Mark Canha, Bumgarner saw the first of his six earned runs cross the plate two batters later after Canha scored on a one-out groundout.

Bumgarner struck out first baseman Matt Olson to end the frame.

Bumgarner continued to have trouble putting batters away in the second inning. The starter allowed another leadoff hit, this time a single, before a double put runners in scoring position.

Luckily for Bumgarner, the defense behind him stepped up big before the inning really got away from Arizona.

Taking the second offering of his at-bat, Oakland’s Stephen Piscotty ripped a liner that undoubtedly would have scored both runners.

But instead of watching two more runs cross the plate, shortstop Nick Ahmed jumped for an impressive grab before turning the double play at second base.

Much like the first two innings, Bumgarner could not get the leadoff batter out, allowing a walk to start the third.

And unlike the second, the A’s made the starting pitcher pay, following up the walk with a single before second baseman Jed Lowrie brought both runners home with a double. Both hits came off 83 mph cutters.

“I thought with Bum’s situation, we were trying to get him through five innings. … He got kinda nicked up on the backend of his outing,” skipper Torey Lovullo said via Zoom. “But really for me, [the struggles] continue to be getting ahead of hitters and finishing off hitters.

“It’s a work in progress and he’s continuing to accept what we’re talking about as far as coaching goes and just keep plowing away and the worm is gonna turn.”

Bumgarner’s lone bright spot of his outing came in the fourth inning, as he struck out two on his way to retiring the side in order.

Then things took a turn in the fifth inning.

After issuing a walk to Ramon Laureano, Bumgarner watched as a grounder just passed the outstretched glove of third baseman Eduardo Escobar.

Laureano’s baserunning would compound the issues for Bumgarner shortly after.

Seemingly caught dead to rights trying to steal third, Laureano was bailed out by a wild throw from Bumgarner, resulting in a run. An Olson sac fly would put another run on the scoreboard before a first-pitch solo homer from Matt Chapman pushed the lead to 5-2.

Bumgarner’s night officially came to an end after hitting catcher Sean Murphy with a pitch a batter later.

Bumgarner allowed a total of six earned runs on seven hits and three walks in 4.2 innings of work. He struck out five.

Despite his second loss of the season, Bumgarner is remaining optimistic the tide will turn in his favor at some point.

“I’ve felt like this for awhile, but I feel like I’m just about to cross that mountain or get to the other side and have a breakthrough,” Bumgarner said. “So far it hasn’t happened but I don’t feel like it’s so far off. Certainly it looks that way right now but I feel like at any time things can start clicking.”

The loss marks the third straight outing Bumgarner has allowed at least five earned runs and seven hits this season.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for a D-backs offense that managed to put up five runs in the defeat, trimming the deficit to just one run at one point in the seventh inning.

Outfielder Kole Calhoun led the way for Arizona with three hits, an RBI, a walk and a run scored. First baseman Asdrubal Cabrera added a hit, two RBIs and a run scored. The only negative for Arizona offensively was the fact they left seven runners on base throughout the evening.

“Offensively, Kole had the big day today,” Lovullo said. “As much as things started to back up on us fundamentally — I don’t want to go over the list of things — we found ourselves in this ballgame. We had some fight and we did a good job of piecing together some at-bats, building an inning and making some pushes.

“Tomorrow’s a new day. We’re going to get after it tomorrow morning. It’s a quick turnaround so we’ve got to spit this one out and be ready to go tomorrow.”

The damage had already been done, though, with the A’s adding a run in the eighth and two in the ninth to keep things out of reach.

“I don’t think this was particularly our type of baseball that we played today,” Lovullo added. “I think there’s some identifiable things that we’re talking about right now we’re going to get our hands on and we’ll tighten up. This team responds to the teaching and the coaching. We all know where things back up on us today.”

Arizona will look to tie the two-game series Tuesday. Starting pitcher Zac Gallen will make his 2021 debut for the D-backs. He’ll face A’s SP Jesus Luzardo (0-1).

First pitch is slated for 12:40 p.m. and can be heard on ESPN 620 AM.


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