SAN FRANCISCO -- The role of villain in the Dodgers-Giants rivalry is nothing new to Madison Bumgarner (as Yasiel Puig could attest), but on Sunday, Max Muncy entered the fray with a homer that not only made a loser out of one fading ace, but a winner out of a
SAN FRANCISCO -- The role of villain in the Dodgers-Giants rivalry is nothing new to Madison Bumgarner (as Yasiel Puig could attest), but on Sunday, Max Muncy entered the fray with a homer that not only made a loser out of one fading ace, but a winner out of a rising one.
Walker Buehler and the Dodgers beat Bumgarner and the Giants in a classic pitchers’ duel, 1-0, but it was Muncy’s splash blast in the first inning -- and his enjoyment watching the 424-foot launch into McCovey Cove -- that made a Mad Bum out of Bumgarner. He yelled at Muncy to stop watching and start running, to which Muncy responded with a line that will go down in rivalry history.
“I told him if you don’t want to watch me watch the ball,” said Muncy, “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.”
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Said Bumgarner, who allowed only one other splash homer in his career: "I can’t even say it with a straight face. The more I think about it, I should just let the kids play That’s what everybody is saying, but I can’t. He just struck a pose and walked further than I liked. That’s fine. If you want to do that, do it, but I’m going to do what I want to do. They want to let everybody be themselves. Let me be myself. That’s me. I’d just as sooner fight than walk or whatever. Just do your thing. I’ll do mine."
The verbal exchange between pitcher and hitter (with plate umpire Will Little intervening) continued throughout Muncy’s home run trot, clocked by Statcast at 27.44 seconds compared to an MLB average this year of 22.85 seconds and even a 25.84-second trot by Bumgarner himself after his April 2 homer off Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The home run itself was reason enough for Bumgarner to lose it, because he and the Giants lost the rubber game of the series because of it.
Buehler (7-1) continued his late bid for All-Star attention with seven shutout innings, striking out nine with one walk before relievers Pedro Báez and Kenley Jansen (19th save) finished it off. Buehler is 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA over his last seven starts, bringing his ERA down from 5.22 to 3.35 after tweaking mechanics and straightening his delivery.
“When you’re on line and on time, you can a lot more things with the ball,” said Buehler. “Earlier in the year my misses were all in the same place and my good throws were all in the same place. When you can command the four quadrants, and watching our guys do that, you learn from that.”
The defensive play that preserved the shutout was turned by Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. With no outs, runners on the corners in the bottom of the sixth and the defense at double-play depth, Turner picked a 98.6 mph one-hop smash off Pablo Sandoval’s bat and threw home instead of to second base, with Mike Yastrzemski trying to score from third erased in a rundown.
Manager Dave Roberts credited Turner’s intelligence and acumen, as well as his courage to take the risk. Turner said he felt like he owed it to Buehler to try to keep the shutout intact.
“The way Walker was throwing the ball, I decided if I got a ball hit at me I would probably go home and not concede the run,” said Turner. “I didn’t know he’d hit it that hard, but I threw my glove out there and it found it. I wanted to give him a chance to keep going with a zero on the board.”
Buehler, Ryu and Clayton Kershaw are a combined 23-3. The Dodgers haven’t had three starting pitchers make the All-Star team since 1962, when two games were played (Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres).
“It was kind of an old-school baseball game, with two No. 1s going head-to-head,” Roberts said. “With our ballclub, we have a lot of aces. For Walker to understand we had a chance to win a series, to face a No. 1 on the other side and to come with that intent today, it was really fun to see.”
As for Bumgarner’s antics, Roberts suggested an ulterior motive of firing up his troops might have been in play.
“A great player like him, who’s very emotional, there’s a kind of steering the game and the umpires and our players and his teammates in a certain direction to get the most out of them,” Roberts said. “It’s gamesmanship and I respect that.”
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.