Madison Bumgarner’s final act on Monday night was to incite a bench-clearing shoving match at the conclusion of the seventh inning.
Before that, the left-hander dominated the Los Angeles Dodgers, blanking the National League West winners across seven innings of one-hit ball.
With 10 strikeouts, Bumgarner had put the San Francisco Giants in position to cut the deficit in the division to four games and bring the team even with the New York Mets atop the wild-card standings.
Instead, the Giants’ committee of closers authored yet another ninth-inning collapse, and the club endured yet another gut-punch of a loss, falling 2-1.
In the final frame, manager Bruce Bochy called on three relievers, but none of them would record a single out. Derek Law began the inning by allowing a single to Andrew Toles before giving way to Javier Lopez, who almost saved the night.
“I thought it was [a double-play ball],” Bochy said, per CSN Bay Area, after Corey Seager’s single that snuck under the glove of a diving Joe Panik. “I’m not lying, I think we all thought it was a double play when he hit it and he just couldn’t quite get to it.”
Bochy then called on Hunter Strickland, who allowed a game-tying single to Justin Turner and the game-winning double to Adrian Gonzalez, which bounced off the glove of right-fielder Hunter Pence as he lept at the warning track.
“Those last three outs. I don’t know If I’ve ever seen such a tough time getting them, but we’re having it,” Bochy told CSN Bay Area.
The question that neither Bochy nor Bumgarner answered after the game was why the lefty exited after just 97 pitches.
“I talked to Bum. We talked,” Bochy told CSN Bay Area. “He threw a beautiful game. What a great game he threw. You knew it was going to be a low-scoring game, which it was.”
When Bumgarner was asked if his early removal was related to the shoving incident — sparked after a staring war with the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig — the starter brushed aside the question.
“What would that have to do with it?” Bumgarner said, per CSN Bay Area. “I don’t think I got thrown out.”
When pressed on the topic, Bumgarner appeared annoyed.
“I feel like we’re getting carried away with the questions here,” Bumgarner told CSN Bay Area.
Clayton Kershaw, making his third start since returning from a two-and-a-half-month layoff on the disabled list, was as stingy as ever. The left-hander limited the Giants to three hits and one unearned run. If not for Eduardo Nunez, he wouldn’t have allowed any runs at all.
Nunez reached by trickling an infield single past Kershaw in the top of the third. The leadoff man stole second, advanced to third on a wild throw and then crossed the plate when Kershaw bounced an 89 mph slider to the backstop.
With the defeat, the Giants have now lost Bumgarner’s last six outing against the Dodgers — a streak that stretches back to last May.