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.

Giants sign Austin Jackson to two-year, $6 million contract

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The Giants announced on Monday night the signing of outfielder Austin Jackson. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, it’s a two-year, $6 million deal with performance incentives that allow Jackson to earn up to an additional $2.5 million for a total of $8.5 million.

Jackson, who soon turns 31 years old, spent last season with the Indians. In 318 plate appearances, he hit .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs, 35 RBI, and 46 runs scored.

The Giants have been on the hunt for a center fielder and Jackson addresses that need relatively cheaply. Jackson will join Hunter Pence and newcomer Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.