Crawford, Bumgarner anchor hope for Giants future

Despite great performances from two of their homegrown stars, the Giants lost their 93rd game of the season Saturday night, a two-and-a-half hour dose of Ambien disguised as a 2-0 defeat to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The 2017 Giants are in the midst of one of the worst seasons in franchise history, but that doesn’t mean the starting nine is completely unwatchable. This was evident by how Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Crawford played in Saturday’s loss.

Bumgarner threw seven innings of two-run ball. Were it not for a low fastball that Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt smashed into the left field bleachers, the Giants’ ace likely would have instead thrown seven shutout innings.

Since returning from the disabled list on July 15, Bumgarner has a 3.67 earned run average in 76-1/3 innings across 12 starts. His ERA would be nearly half a run lower, were it not for back-to-back outings in which he allowed five runs in one and six in the other.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy discussed how much it helps that Bumgarner came back healthy from a shoulder injury suffered in April during a dirt bike accident:

“He’s thrown the ball like he was throwing before … it’s hard sometimes to try and find a silver lining through a year like this but the fact that he did come out of this accident okay and he’s back healthy and we’ll have him ready to go next year.”

Bumgarner also feels good about his post-DL performance:

“Anytime you go out there and you feel like you throw the ball good enough to give your team a chance to win, you got to look at the positive stuff … obviously we didn’t win, that’s our main goal is to go out there and win. But if you give your team a chance you got to feel good about it.”

Behind Bumgarner, Crawford played Gold Glove defense, as always. The shortstop started a slick double play off the bat of Adam Rosales and caught Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke napping in the fifth inning.

Greinke doubled with one out in the inning and tried to take third on David Peralta‘s ground ball to the left side of the infield. Crawford gloved it and, rather than taking the out at first, pitched it to Ryder Jones at third to tag out Greinke.

Speaking on the necessity for the Giants to stay tight defensively if they plan to compete next season, Bochy said:

“We have to play our best ball if we’re going to beat a good team, an elite pitcher. So we have to be at the top of our game defensively, make the plays, make the pitches, hopefully scratch and claw and get enough runs.”

All indications are that the Giants have no plans to rebuild the team during the offseason, but rather reload and try to compete again in 2018. Part of that may involve bringing in new talent, but part of it also relies on the players currently on the roster playing better.

Bumgarner and Crawford are two of the most important players on the roster for the foreseeable future if the goal is to compete, so the Giants desperately need them to play as well as they can. A team with a fully functional Bumgarner, Crawford and Buster Posey already has a fantastic head start.