SAN FRANCISCO — The news late Tuesday night that Nori Aoki has a fractured fibula only made the 3-2 loss to the Padres that much harder to take.
A team with this little wiggle room offensively can’t waste pitching gems, and the Giants have done it three times in a row with Madison Bumgarner on the mound. Bumgarner has pitched 23 1/3 innings over his last three starts and allowed just five earned runs while striking out 30. The Giants have lost all three games.
“It’s a tough one to lose — Bum threw so well,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We just couldn’t add on. We’ve got to find a way to get this offense clicking. You like to think you’ll find a way to get another run, but we had a hard time doing it.”
The Giants scored on Gregor Blanco’s dribbler that Odrisamer Despaigne couldn’t pick up and then on Joe Panik’s hard double. They didn’t score for the next six innings, striking out five times in a row during one stretch late in the game.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Bumgarner strikes out 14, but Giants lose in extras]
Bumgarner has watched veterans — from Matt Cain to Ryan Vogelsong — handle similar stretches of poor support. He knows how to handle this.
“That’s the way the game is,” he said. “It’s funny sometimes. It’s not ideal for us. We’ve just got to keep going out there and grinding. Guys hear it all the time, but that’s all you can do.”
Bumgarner is doing more than grinding right now. He is as sharp as he has ever been, and on Tuesday he set a career-high with 14 strikeouts. Even the pitch that beat him, a two-run double by Will Venable, was the one Bumgarner wanted to make. He noted that the location and velocity usually get whiffs from left-handed batters.
The Giants’ bats went quiet after the Venable hit, and Hunter Strickland gave up the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th. Bochy thought Panik would have gotten to the ball that Strickland tipped, but either way there was no issue with Strickland’s end of the play. A clean grab keeps the run from scoring and maybe leads to two outs, but instead the Giants watched helplessly as the ball rolled into right field. Craig Kimbrel came on and handed the Giants a third straight loss in a Bumgarner start.
“He’s been throwing the ball so well,” Bochy said of his ace. “It’s a shame, when you look at the last three starts and we haven’t won. That’s what makes it tough.”
--- Bumgarner matched Atlee Hammaker for the most strikeouts (14) by a San Francisco Giants left-hander. The Giants had 18 as a team for just the 10th time. This is the first time they’ve done it in fewer than 12 innings.
--- Here’s the latest on Aoki. He said he’ll be in the cast for 10-15 days, but you figure he’ll need at least a couple weeks after that to get back to form. He’s a speed guy, after all, and he makes a lot of cuts on the bases and in the outfield.
This also, obviously, keeps Aoki out of the All-Star Game. He’s currently fourth in the outfield voting.
--- Sergio Romo hyperextended his knee, but that’s something he’s done several times before in his career. The Giants know how to deal with it, and Romo was already looking better after the game. Bochy said he’s day to day.
--- Couple minor league notes: Daniel Carbonell was demoted from Double-A Richmond to High-A San Jose. Carbonell was hitting just .173 with a .367 OPS for the Flying Squirrels. On a more positive note, I’m hearing the Giants will soon announce that they’ve signed second-round pick Andrew Suarez, a lefty out of Miami.