Madison Bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner fans 11 as Giants shut out Cubs

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Madison Bumgarner is doing his best to keep the Giants in the race.

He allowed two hits and matched his career high with 11 strikeouts over eight innings in a 4-0 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday.  It was just his ninth win of the season, but the Giants did improve to 9-4 in his last 13 starts.

Bumgarner himself is 9-12 with a 3.43 ERA.  That’s because the Giants have scored a total of 88 runs in his 28 starts, an average of 3.14 per game.  It’s low even by their standards: they’re averaging 3.43 runs per game when he doesn’t start.

But Bumgarner is coming into his own.  He’s up to 157 strikeouts in 173 1/3 innings for the season.  He’s 11th in the NL in K/9 IP, sixth in HR/9 IP and 7th with a 3.83 K/BB ratio, all at the tender age of 22.

Bumgarner doesn’t fare quite so well in the ERA rankings, in part because he had maybe the worst start by any major leaguer this season: eight earned runs and nine hits in one-third of an inning against the Twins back on June 21.  But he’s had 13 starts in which he’s allowed one or no earned runs.

It seems obvious that he’ll have to keep it up if the Giants are going to have any chance of overtaking the Diamondbacks in the NL West.  Fortunately, he’s looking like the game’s youngest stopper at the moment.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.