Madison Bumgarner #40 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a first inning pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field on July 16, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks continue to get reinforcements from the injured list as staff ace Madison Bumgarner made his first start since June 2 on Friday night at Chase Field.
However, both the offense and the bullpen seemed to still be on the All-Star break as Las Serpientes drop their first game of the second half to the Chicago Cubs, 5-1.
Utility man Josh Rojas was 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI.
Bumgarner was reinstated from the 10-day injured list earlier on Friday, entering the game with a 5.73 ERA this season.
The 31-year-old lefty showed no signs of rust as he gave the D-backs a strong outing in his return to the mound. He was efficient with his pitches while staying aggressive and attacking the strike zone.
“I think it went as well as we could have all hoped, especially Bum,” Manager Torey Lovullo said on his starting pitcher.
“[Bumgarner] did a great job. He gave up two runs over six innings,” Lovullo said. “We had a pitch count in mind we didn’t want him to exceed, and he got very close to that.
“I think each inning had a very low pitch count, looked like he was throwing balls exactly where he wanted.”
The Cubs scored an unearned run on Bumgarner in the second inning as Javier Baez turned a single into a triple with a stolen base and a throwing error on D-backs catcher Bryan Holaday. He scored on a sac fly by Jake Marisnick.
The only real mistake Bumgarner threw was an 0-2 curveball that Anthony Rizzo hit a country mile to right for a solo home run in the fourth inning.
“I know he got clipped for an 0-2 home run, it was just a mistake out over the plate,” Lovullo added. “That kind of stuff happens, but no crooked numbers and just did a fantastic job of keeping us in this ball game and giving us a chance to win this baseball game.”
Outside of that, MadBum gave the D-backs an outstanding start in his return. He had clean innings in the third and fifth with a sub-80 pitch count after six innings for a quality start.
Bumgarner gave up two runs, one of which was earned, on two hits. He struck out six, gave up one walk, and hit two batters.
“I feel like overall it was nice to get back out there,” Bumgarner said on his return.
“I wasn’t super comfortable missing five or six weeks or whatever, so you’re a little anxious once you get out there. But I thought it went pretty good.
“I thought I was as prepared as I could be, and I didn’t know obviously how it would turn out,” Bumgarner added. “But I felt pretty good about it, and I don’t think there’s any reason they shouldn’t start stringing together.”
While Bumgarner was on point, the same could not be said for the offense and the bullpen. The D-backs once against stranded a lot of men on base, going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and leaving eight on.
Rojas took some good approaches at the plate, with some lengthy at-bats that resulted in a pair of doubles.
He is hitting .360 with four doubles and six walks in his last seven games.
Christian Walker also had a nice night at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a single and a double.
Arizona had some missed scoring opportunities, with the biggest one coming in the fourth inning as they had the bases loaded with one out and were unable to produce any runs. They also hit into some costly double plays that Rizzo turned at first base that quickly ended any offensive momentum the D-backs had.
“We built some innings. We just couldn’t get a big hit,” Lovullo said on the offense. “Was I satisfied with the approach? At times. But I think I’m looking for a little more consistency.
“Momentum is a huge part of sports, and we got to stop those moments when teams are executing against us, and we got to go out there and create some of those push moments.”
Despite only being down by one, the bullpen once again failed to keep those crooked numbers off the score board once Bumgarner’s night was over.
After striking out the leadoff batter to start the seventh, relief pitcher Matt Peacock gave up a solo dinger to third baseman Patrick Wisdom that put the Cubs up by two.
He then gave up a walk to Nico Hoerner, who was hit by a single off the bat of Ian Happ. With one on, pinch hitter Jason Heyward – yes that Jason Heyward – hit a two-run homer to right field that put Chicago up by four.
The D-backs were unable to answer back and lost their 67th game of the season.
The D-backs will get another piece of the puzzle back as Zac Gallen will make his return to the mound in game two of this series. As a reminder, this game was moved up in the day to accommodate Game Five of the NBA Finals. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station.
Gallen is 1-4 in nine starts this season with a 4.17 ERA, but he also has suffered numerous injuries that have set him back considerably.