Benches and bullpens cleared on Monday night in Los Angeles after San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner got into a shouting match with Dodgers outfield Yasiel Puig at the end of the seventh inning.
With two outs in the seventh and the Giants clinging to a 1-0 lead, Bumgarner got Puig to groundout on a comebacker to end the inning. Bumgarner celebrated on his way to the dugout — either because Puig had doubled off of him earlier, and/or because the two have a contentious history — and quickly the two began to exchange words.
“Don’t look at me!” yelled Bumgarner.
“What are you going to do?” Puig spat back.
Giants first-baseman Brandon Belt quickly stepped in, some light shoving transpired, and before you knew it the benches and bullpens were cleared and aggressively pointing at each other. No punches were thrown, however, and aside from some par-for-the-course “hold me back!” jawing from both teams, in the end the whole thing seemed much ado about nothing.
Except, of course, that Bumgarner’s temper very likely resulted in Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy pulling him from the game. Bumgarner had surrendered just one hit on 97 pitches.
Now, 97 pitches is certainly a lot, but Bumgarner is exactly the sort of workhorse starter that can — and, in this case, needed to — go the distance. Especially when he’s pitching so dominantly.
Because despite having the best record in baseball during the first half of the season, the Giants currently boast the worst record in the MLB after the All-Star break. They have a 55% chance to make the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus, and their bullpen has been atrociously bad.
A win against the first-place Dodgers would have been massive. Instead, the Giants are clinging to their playoff lives, now tied for the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
But Bumgarner came out of the game, and in the bottom of the ninth inning a committee of Giants relievers surrendered two runs. Dodgers win, 2-1.
It’s impossible to know what would have happened had Bochy kept Bumgarner in, of course, and Bochy insisted afterwards that Bumgarner would have been pulled regardless of what happened at the end of the seventh.
This isn’t the first time Bumgarner and Puig have nearly fought. In 2014, Bumgarner and Puig nearly brawled when Bumgarner hit Puig with a pitch after Puig had flipped his bat on a home run in a previous game.
Clayton Kershaw, who started the latest game for the Dodgers, couldn’t believe Bochy pulled him.
“I don’t know why he came out,” Kershaw said.
“I definitely expected him to come out for the eighth.”
Bumgarner also sounded disappointed to be pulled.
“You don’t ever want to come out of the game,” he said. “At the same time, you’ve got to be smart about it. We’ve got a lot of guys who are really good in the bullpen. It didn’t work out for us tonight.”
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