When Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig stepped to the plate against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner in the first inning of Friday night's series opener at AT&T Park, it wasn't just a typical regular-season at-bat.This was the first on-field meeting between the two since they were at the center of a benches-clearing
When Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig stepped to the plate against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner in the first inning of Friday night's series opener at AT&T Park, it wasn't just a typical regular-season at-bat.
This was the first on-field meeting between the two since they were at the center of a benches-clearing incident on Sept. 19 at Dodger Stadium. Puig marked the occasion by letting his bat do the talking with a notable hit.
With two outs and Corey Seager on first base in a scoreless game, Bumgarner fired a 91.9-mph fastball that carried a perceived velocity of 93.7 mph. However, the pitch caught too much of the plate, and Puig whacked a line drive down the left-field line.
The 111.5-mph exit velocity on Puig's hit not only was his fifth-hardest of the season, but also the third-hardest recorded off Bumgarner since the Statcast™ Era began last year. It trails only a double by the Brewers' Jonathan Villar on June 14 (114.1 mph) and a single by Ian Desmond -- then of the Nationals -- last Aug. 16 (112.7 mph). Previously, the Dodgers' hardest-hit ball off Bumgarner in the Statcast™ Era was Enrique Hernández's 110.2-mph home run on April 15.
Puig's double bounced to the wall, where left fielder Ángel Pagán retrieved it and fired to cutoff man Brandon Crawford as Seager raced around the bases. The Dodgers shortstop reached a top speed of 19.6 mph, his fastest this year while running from first on a hit. He slid across the plate just ahead of Buster Posey's tag, completing his trip in 10.75 seconds, his third-fastest first-to-home time of the year.
The Dodgers led, 1-0, although Bumgarner and the Giants would have the last laugh. The lefty went 7 1/3 solid innings and smacked a two-run double in the sixth as San Francisco boosted its Wild Card hopes with a 9-3 victory.
The earlier confrontation between Bumgarner and Puig began when Puig hit a comebacker to Bumgarner in the seventh inning of a game the Giants led, 1-0. Bumgarner got the out at first, and television cameras appeared to show the southpaw telling Puig, "Don't look at me."
Things escalated from there, with both teams joining the fray and the two key players having to be restrained. However, no punches were thrown, and the Dodgers came back the next day poking fun of the incident with custom shirts bearing the hashtag #DontLookAtMe.
That also wasn't the first time the two players had locked horns. In 2014, Bumgarner took exception to the way Puig celebrated a home run, and later in the season, the Giants ace hit him with a pitch.
"Those two like each other a lot. Probably go out to breakfast every morning they're in town," Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner joked after the Sept. 19 game. "There always seems to be something going on between those two. Makes it fun, though, makes you stay on your toes, and makes the game exciting. I'm sure the fans loved it."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.