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Bumgarner ends season with at-bat vs. Kershaw

@mi_guardado
September 29, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants scuttled their plans to have Madison Bumgarner make one final start Sunday, but manager Bruce Bochy hinted he would find a way to get his longtime ace into the game. “He’ll have his spikes on, let’s put it that way,” Bochy said Saturday. Bochy delivered

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants scuttled their plans to have Madison Bumgarner make one final start Sunday, but manager Bruce Bochy hinted he would find a way to get his longtime ace into the game.

“He’ll have his spikes on, let’s put it that way,” Bochy said Saturday.

Bochy delivered on that promise, sending Bumgarner out to pinch-hit against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (working a tuneup inning in advance of a start in the National League Division Series) in the fifth inning of Sunday’s 9-0 regular-season finale loss at Oracle Park. Bumgarner, an impending free agent, was greeted with a standing ovation and tipped his helmet to the crowd as he prepared to make potentially his final appearance as a Giant.

Box score

“I didn't know Kershaw was pitching, so, I couldn't prearrange it, but I couldn't think of a better scenario,” Bochy said. “I really wanted for [Brandon Crawford] to hit, but I just wanted to do something for Madison, with all he’s done. I just said, ‘It can't be a better script right now with Clayton on the mound,’ facing a guy that they have battled so many times.”

Bumgarner, who entered Sunday 5-for-22 with two home runs against Kershaw, worked a full count before lining out to third baseman Jedd Gyorko to end the frame.

"It was cool," Kershaw said. "I know, once you saw he was not pitching today, in some way [they'd] let the fans appreciate what he's done here. It's a good way to do it -- get him in there against a lefty that he's hit a few homers against. It was a fun moment. He's meant so much to this organization and it's a great way to honor that. I kind of made a joke about it before the game, that he'll probably hit against me."

Added Buster Posey: “That’s what makes baseball fun, little tidbits like that that you get to see throughout the year. I thought it was really cool how Kershaw pitched him, too. He went right after him and challenged him. Those two have been going at it for a decade now and hopefully more to come. We’ll see.”

The 30-year-old left-hander said Saturday that he is looking forward to free agency, though he doesn’t expect the process to sever his connection to the Giants.

“Certainly, who knows what the future holds, but I have a long career ahead of myself,” Bumgarner said. “I’m excited about free agency. I’m sure I’ll find my way back here one way or another, whether it’s back in this uniform or not.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.