Giants send struggling Bumgarner to Triple-A

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Sporting a 27-5 record and 1.65 ERA in the minors Madison Bumgarner ranked 14th on Baseball America‘s annual list of the game’s top prospects and began spring training as the favorite to claim the final spot in San Francisco’s rotation.
Unfortunately the 20-year-old southpaw showed up at Giants camp with his fastball topping out in the 80s, continuing a worrisome trend from late last season when his velocity dropped from mid-90s to low-90s.
Bumgarner appeared in three spring games, tossing seven innings with a 6.43 ERA, zero strikeouts, and seven walks, and this afternoon the Giants optioned him to Triple-A.
Obviously something isn’t right with Bumgarner physically, but setting that aside there’s certainly no harm in letting a 20-year-old spend some time at Triple-A before handing him a rotation spot. In this case the move not only gives Bumgarner some additional minor-league seasoning and likely allows the Giants to eventually push his free agency back another year, it lets him try to work out the kinks in a low-pressure environment.
Now that Bumgarner is out of the picture, for a bit at least, Todd Wellemeyer is likely to begin the season as the Giants’ fifth starter. Wellemeyer is almost a dozen years Bumgarner’s senior and has 191 more games of big-league experience, but he’s also a question mark after an injury wrecked 2009. However, he’s looked healthy this spring and went 13-9 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts for the Cardinals in 2008.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.