'No feel': Bumgarner falters in opener loss  

D-backs rally for four runs in the seventh inning, but fall in extras

September 4th, 2021

PHOENIX -- After Jarred Kelenic's homer landed in the pool area beyond the wall in right-center, home plate umpire Stu Scheurwater threw a new baseball. The left-hander felt the baseball and chucked it towards the D-backs' dugout. Scheurwater tossed another ball to Bumgarner and that was quickly discarded in the same manner.

For whatever reason, the balls felt different to Bumgarner and he had a hard time getting a grip on them during what turned out to be a 6-5 loss to the Mariners in 10 innings.

Bumgarner walked five over six innings and also hit a batter.

"It wasn’t mechanical," said Bumgarner of his control issues. "I actually felt really good today physically, mentally. Mechanics were good. Stuff felt pretty good other than no feel. It’s not ever fun to try to blame it on something else. I could have been just as bad without it. But the balls were 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."

Mariners starter Tyler Anderson also had similar issues.

"Yeah, I think a lot of our guys noticed that, too," 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."

Bumgarner walked four over five innings in his last start, but that was more of an issue he said at the time of him doing a poor job. Friday night, it was different.

"Watching other guys -- I didn’t talk to anybody -- but it looked like everybody was having that same result. Maybe not quite as bad as I did. I could sit there and rub them for 30 minutes and they never felt any better."

Even factoring in the four walks in his last outing and the five Friday, Bumgarner has only issued 35 walks this season --- two of which were intentional -- in 123 1/3 innings.

"I saw that Bum was struggling with being able to grip the ball," manager Torey Lovullo said. "I know he felt like he couldn’t get any feel for them. You could see it. It was a very uncharacteristic outing by Bum. 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.

"I was a position player for a long time. I’m not a ball expert, but it’s funny how pitchers can tell the difference. It’s their craft and they spend so much time with a ball in their hand that they can tell the difference."