The San Francisco Giants won their first meeting of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers with a 5-3 home decision on Friday night, and they will turn to their ace in the second game of a three-game series on Saturday afternoon.
Madison Bumgarner (3-6, 3.83 ERA) will start for San Francisco, and neither he nor the last-place Giants have had the kind of success they're accustomed to.
Bumgarner, a four-time All-Star, also hasn't made many friends in the opposing dugout recently, especially with the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco's longtime nemesis.
Bumgarner watched Max Muncy launch a long homer into McCovey Cove in the first inning last Sunday -- then he watched the Dodgers first baseman take his time admiring the blast.
The two exchanged words as Muncy jogged around the bases nearly five seconds slower than the majors' average home run trot (22.85 seconds) with the game's first run.
Worse yet, the solo shot turned out to be the game's only run, and Bumgarner was tagged with a tough loss after working seven innings and allowing only four hits.
"The more I think about it, I should just let the kids play," Bumgarner said after the game. "That's what everybody is saying, but I can't. He just struck a pose and walked further than I liked. That's fine. If you want to do that, do it, but I'm going to do what I want to do."
In 12 career starts against Milwaukee, Bumgarner has gone 7-4 with a sharp 2.63 ERA.
The Giants' offense has been anemic all season, but Kevin Pillar, Pablo Sandoval and Mike Yastrzemski drove in all five runs with home runs as the club won its third straight game.
Meanwhile, the Brewers' explosive offense produced just eight hits -- all singles -- and left 11 men on base during the windy, 56-degree contest.
Milwaukee also was only 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
They loaded the bases against struggling reliever Mark Melancon in the eighth but notched only one run after Melancon unleashed a wild pitch to score Jesus Aguilar. Lorenzo Cain flied out to end the inning.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell will send out Jimmy Nelson (0-1, 12.00 ERA) to make just his second start of the season, and Counsell will expect a longer outing from the former Alabama Crimson Tide standout.
In his first outing in 21 months, the 6-foot-6 right-hander lasted only three innings 10 days ago, yielding four hits and five runs (four earned) -- most noticeably the first career grand slam by Miami's Brian Anderson.
Nelson, 30, injured his shoulder while running the bases two seasons ago, and last year was a wash due to surgery.
The home crowd in Milwaukee welcomed him back loudly as he took the mound at Miller Park to face the Marlins.
"The reception from the fans and the excitement of all the teammates and staff here the last day or two is something I'll always remember and always appreciate," Nelson said. "That was the best moment of the day, obviously."
Nelson has made five career starts against the Giants, posting a 2-2 mark with a 5.28 ERA.
The Giants will be aiming for their fourth win in a row. The Brewers are 5-2 in their past seven games.
--Field Level Media
Bumgarner, Giants look to keep cool vs. Brewers