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Bumgarner K's five, but a 'touch off' in '18 debut

Giants ace allows three runs -- two earned -- in 1 2/3 innings
Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Madison Bumgarner looked like the Giants ace of old while making his Cactus League debut Sunday. He pitched 1 2/3 innings, striking out five of the nine batters he faced while barely exceeding his 35-pitch target.

Bumgarner also gave up three runs in the Giants' 12-10 loss to the Cubs, but one run was unearned and another came on what's known as a "Cactus League" homer, a long fly ball that caught a dry Arizona air pocket and slipped over the right-field fence.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Madison Bumgarner looked like the Giants ace of old while making his Cactus League debut Sunday. He pitched 1 2/3 innings, striking out five of the nine batters he faced while barely exceeding his 35-pitch target.

Bumgarner also gave up three runs in the Giants' 12-10 loss to the Cubs, but one run was unearned and another came on what's known as a "Cactus League" homer, a long fly ball that caught a dry Arizona air pocket and slipped over the right-field fence.

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"I thought it was going to be an out off the bat," Bumgarner said. "I guess he hit it better than I thought. It doesn't really matter to me either way."

The strikeouts and the home run weren't what Bumgarner had on his mind in his debut.

"I felt good physically," Bumgarner said. "That's really all I'm looking for. First time out there, command, every time I tried to get on game speed, I just missed a touch.

"It's not like riding a bike where you get out there and your first time it's going to be dialed in. That's why we have Spring Training. The misses weren't bad misses, I just had more misses than I wanted. Going in, I'd miss in. Going away, I'd miss away or down. They're not bad misses. Just a touch off."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The durable Bumgarner had an uncharacteristic 2017 season, missing nearly three months with bruised ribs and a sprained left shoulder following a dirt-bike accident on an off-day in Colorado. He finished 4-9 with a 3.32 ERA, his lowest win total since his debut season in 2009 and the second-highest ERA of his career. After six straight seasons of making 31 or more starts and exceeding 200 innings, Bumgarner is focused on returning to top form.

Catcher Buster Posey recognized the strength in Bumgarner's five K's but could tell the left-hander was a touch off.

"He just looked like he was a little amped up," Posey said. "Overthrew the breaking ball some. But everything was coming out fine as far as the crispness of the fastball. Location wasn't what you expect out of him, but first outing of the spring, it's going to happen."

Video: Bumgarner discusses his excitement for 2018 season

Bumgarner credits some his high amperage to the energy the offseason additions have brought to Giants camp.

"They've kind of rejuvenated everybody with the guys they've brought in," Bumgarner said. "Everybody's really upbeat and excited to get stated. On paper, we're pretty dang good. But that's on paper."

Bumgarner knows about energizing his teammates, and he's ready to do his part when the season kicks off in Los Angeles on March 29. Already named the Giants' Opening Day starter, Bumgarner is also in line to start the home opener on April 3 and again vs. the rival Dodgers on April 8, all on normal rest.

Would that fire up his Giants teammates?

"That's fair to say," Posey said. "He's obviously our horse. He brings a certain amount of fire every time he's out there. That's what the leader of the staff has got to do."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants, Madison Bumgarner