A frustrated Madison Bumgarner grabbed a new baseball, rubbed it in his hands and flung it off the field. Given a new ball, Bumgarner discarded that one, as well.
Bumgarner did not look like himself in a 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Seattle Mariners on Friday night. He struggled to throw strikes, and when he managed to do so, he struggled to throw quality ones.
Bumgarner said there was a reason for this: The baseballs were slicker than usual.
“It’s not ever fun to try to blame it on something else,” Bumgarner said. “I could have been just as bad without it. But the balls was definitely a huge factor for me tonight. I couldn’t get a grip on them. They felt a touch different than they usually are. Whatever the reason for that, I don’t know. Maybe they weren’t. They sure felt that way to me.”
In giving up five runs in six innings, Bumgarner issued a season-high five walks, one shy of his career-high. He hasn’t especially sharp lately — he had walked seven in his previous two outings combine — but walks have not been a major issue for him most of the season. Entering the day, he had issued just 2.3 walks per nine innings.
“It was a very uncharacteristic outing by Bum,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo sid. “He’s usually filling up the strike zone and just pounding away at it. I know the past couple haven’t been good, but it was definitely a little bit of a distraction today and we all saw it.”
Bumgarner’s lack of control was evident from the beginning. After getting to two strikes on Abraham Toro in the top of the first inning, he tried to go inside with a fastball. The pitch clipped Toro to load the bases. He proceeded to walk the next batter, Tom Murphy, to force in a run. It was just the fifth time in his career Bumgarner walked a batter in 116 plate appearances with the bases loaded.
Bumgarner admitted it might be “tough to believe” the balls were that much slicker than usual, but he wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
“Yeah, I think a lot of our guys noticed that, too,” Mariners lefty Tyler Anderson said. “It just seemed like they were really dry and whatever the rub was was kind of powdery. So I would probably agree with him and I think some other guys probably would, too, that maybe getting a grip on the ball wasn’t as easy as it might be some other times.”
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