Bumgarner gets fired up in hard-luck loss
SAN FRANCISCO -- It’s never a dull affair when the Giants face off against the Dodgers, and Sunday proved no different.
A mild skirmish between left-hander Madison Bumgarner and Max Muncy injected a dose of drama into the Giants’ 1-0 loss in the rubber game at Oracle Park.
Muncy launched a home run off Bumgarner in the first inning and briefly admired his splash-hit blast before beginning his trot around the bases. A displeased Bumgarner barked at Muncy for not running out of the box and stalked the Dodgers’ first baseman down the first-base line, drawing a scolding from home-plate umpire Will Little.
“He just struck a pose and walked further than I liked,” Bumgarner said. “That’s fine. If you want to do that, do it, but I’m going to do what I want to do.”
Countered Muncy: “I told him if you don’t want to watch me run, you can go in the ocean and get it. I yelled at him, he yelled at me. I don’t know if he even heard me. Honestly, I thought it was one of my tamer bat flips.”
While league-wide attitudes toward bat flips and other celebratory gestures have softened, as evidenced by MLB’s “Let the Kids Play” ad campaign, Bumgarner remains unapologetically old-school in his view of such behavior. His competitive fire has led to several clashes with the Dodgers in the past, most notably with former Los Angeles slugger Yasiel Puig.
“I can’t even say it with a straight face,” Bumgarner said. “The more I think about it, I should just let the kids play. That’s what everybody is saying, but I can’t… They want to let everybody be themselves. Let me be myself. That’s me. I’d just as soon fight than walk or whatever. Just do your thing. I’ll do mine.”
The situation didn’t escalate further, and the Dodgers ultimately got the last laugh, as Muncy’s homer helped them clinch a series victory over the Giants. Bumgarner allowed only four hits over seven innings, but he was outdueled by Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler, who struck out nine over seven innings.
The Giants, who were without Brandon Belt (stomach illness) and Buster Posey (hamstring strain), finished 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and are just 2-for-27 (.074) with RISP over their last five games.
The club’s struggles with situational hitting spoiled a brilliant effort from Bumgarner, who induced 10 swinging strikes and threw 86 pitches in his most efficient start of the year. After Muncy’s homer, Bumgarner yielded only three singles and didn’t allow another Dodger to advance past first base. The 29-year-old ace now has a 3.83 ERA over 87 innings this season, with 10 quality starts in 14 outings.
“He’s been throwing the ball very well,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I thought today was one of his best games. That’s the Madison we’ve seen for a long time.”
While the Giants are set to make a trip to Los Angeles next week, the Dodgers won’t return to Oracle Park until September, by which time Bumgarner may no longer be in San Francisco. An impending free agent, Bumgarner will be one of the most high-profile starters available at the July 31 Trade Deadline, creating uncertainty about his future with the club.
Before Sunday’s game, Bochy was asked if he had reached the point where he was beginning to relish each of Bumgarner’s starts with the Giants.
“I try not to think about it,” Bochy said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know he’s part of this club, but with that said, I appreciate every start he makes anyway. Even if it wasn’t in the situation that’s being talked about, possible trade and all that. I appreciate how competitive these guys are, how good they are. How talented they are. That never stops. Whether it’s a Posey or Bumgarner, it’s fun to see guys who are really good at what they do.”