Opening Day for the Arizona Diamondbacks did not provide optimism for one of the club’s biggest questions heading into 2021.
After starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner had the worst year of his career last season, the left-hander had a below-average day on Thursday in an 8-7 loss to the San Diego Padres.
The starter allowed six earned runs, seven hits and three walks over 4.0 innings, striking out six.
When asked his first question after the game on how he’d assess his performance, Bumgarner let out a sigh.
“I felt much better about my personal performance than the line showed but it don’t really matter because the only thing that matters is the line and what I did to help us win,” he said.
Bumgarner got off to a great start. He was crisp with his pitch location and only had to throw eight pitches in the first inning.
First-pitch strikes weren’t an issue, either, as he did so for his first nine batters. It was not surprising to hear Bumgarner say that he thought the result would be different some games when he throws like that, because his stuff was there.
But he ran into problems in the second inning. Bumgarner walked Will Myers on a nine-pitch at-bat and Jake Cronenworth’s single after that was followed by a walk to Jurickson Profar. The next hitter up, Victor Caratini, became the fourth-straight Padre to reach base with a two-RBI single. Bumgarner had to use 32 pitches on the whole to get through the inning.
Bumgarner escaped from there, but his next time out brought more trouble. Eric Hosmer and Myers hit back-to-back homers in the third to make it 4-1 Padres, and by then, San Diego was mashing the ball off Bumgarner.
That Caratini single was his second RBI of the game and put the D-backs down 5-1. A double by Hosmer in the fourth inning gave the Padres a run off Bumgarner in three straight innings.
It was an inconsistent strike zone all game, particularly on the outside part of the plate, with some pitches in the same location yielding different results throughout the day. That clearly frustrated Bumgarner, who visibly showed it a few times.
The two-RBI single by Caratini had a ball call from the umpire that yielded a reaction from Bumgarner, as it could have been strike three to end the inning. Bumgarner said that he is one to usually pass on a question about an umpire but that he admitted it was frustration with a few of the calls behind the plate.
“Very much so,” he said.
Fortunately for Bumgarner and the D-backs, the bats showed up in the fifth inning. Ketel Marte, Asdrubal Cabrera, Tim Locastro and Stephen Vogt all homered. Cabrera’s and Locastro’s were of the two-run variety, which put Arizona up 7-6 and, yes, Bumgarner in line for a win if the bullpen could hold.
It would not. Kevin Ginkel had a scoreless fifth inning, but Stefan Crichton gave up the game-tying run in the sixth and Alex Young allowed one more in the seventh for the Padres to be back in front 8-7.
Arizona’s offense had nothing left to provide and the game ended at that score.