Bumgarner on the Muncy homer pic.twitter.com/QTEr5BwWll
— Ryan Gorcey (@RyanGorcey) June 9, 2019
ORACLE PARK — Madison Bumgarner stalked around the infield grass, barking.
Max Muncy, left arm outstretched after his 13th home run of the season — this one a monster shot into McCovey Cove — tucked them in and kept running, then beckoned him to come out and get him. Bumgarner kept hollering, until home plate umpire Will Little came over to settle down the surly left-hander. It was the first inning of what would wind up as a 1-0 loss for the Giants.
“Bumgarner said ‘Don’t watch the ball, run,’” Muncy told reporters after the game. “And I just told him if he doesn’t want me to watch the ball, go get it out of the ocean.”
Bumgarner got heated, the Giants stranded runners, and in the seventh game out of nine between the two rivals this season decided by two runs or fewer, San Francisco once again came out on the losing end. It was fitting for Bumgarner — one of the Giants’ most valuable trade pieces — that what was likely his last game against the Dodgers at Oracle Park couldn’t get more SF.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t get him a win with the effort there,” said manager Bruce Bochy.
After the second pitch of the game, Bumgarner went in on the same dispute with Little as Jeff Samardzija had with Andy Fletcher in Saturday’s affair — a pitch on the edge that he thought was a strike was not called as such. When Muncy blasted a 428-foot, 108-mph splash hit off of a 2-1 Bumgarner challenge fastball, the Dodgers first baseman paused, dropped his bat, walked a few steps and admired his handiwork before starting his home run trot.
It was relatively inocuous, but Bumgarner, already with his dander up, shadowed Muncy around the bases and peppered him with verbal jabs until Danley intervened.
“I can’t even say it with a straight face: I was going to say, ‘The more I think about it, you should let the kids play,’ that’s what everybody’s saying,” Bumgarner said. “I can’t. He just struck a pose and walked further than I liked. You’re going to do that, do it, but I’m going to do what I’m going to do.”
It’s a typical sight when it comes to Bumgarner and the Dodgers, even though his favorite punching bag, Yasiel Puig, is long gone. Asked if he’s softening against that kind of behavior as it becomes more prevalent in today’s game, Bumgarner affected a pause.
“Ah, no,” he said. “I won’t make that mistake … They want to let everybody be themself, let me be myself. That’s me. I’d just as soon fight than walk or whatever. Just do your thing, I’ll do mine.”
Bumgarner came into Sunday having faced them 34 times in his career, with a 15-12 record and a 2.56 ERA in 214 2/3 innings, but he also had one very odd split: He’d pitched 21 of those games at Dodger Stadium and 13 at Oracle Park, a split Bochy explained as just luck of the draw.
The Dodgers don’t return to San Francisco until September, and Bumgarner — San Francisco’s most valuable asset on the trade market under the new regime of Farhan Zaidi — will likely be gone long before then.
It’s not something that Bochy — whose 1,000th win with San Francisco came on Bumgarner’s arm last week — likes thinking about, but it’s hard not to, especially considering the Giants (26-38) are going nowhere fast in the first season of what looks to be a three-year rebuild, a rebuild that’s going to require more prospects. A Bumgarner trade could net San Francisco those needed pieces, especially after dominating the top team in the National League two starts in a row.
“I try not to think about it,” Bochy said before the game. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know he’s part of this club, and with that said, I appreciate every start he makes anyway. Even if it wasn’t in the situation that’s being talked about, the possible trade and all that, because I appreciate how competitive these guys are, how good they are and how talented they are.”
The way he’s pitched over his last eight starts — with a 3.47 ERA and 49 strikeouts over 49 1/3 innings — he’ll net a hefty return.
“I’ve pushed that aside,” Bumgarner said. “I know that’s the talk, but as long as I’m here, I’m going to be competing for this team and trying to win games for this team.”
Other than Bumgarner’s mistake to Muncy, he didn’t really make any others. In what was almost a replay of his last outing against the Dodgers — when he went six innings and allowed one run on four hits while striking out eight — Bumgarner had arguably his best game of the season.
“It wasn’t bad, by any means,” Bumgarner said.
“When it gets to May, he starts getting in a good rhythm,” Bochy said of Bumgarner, who sat at 93 mph on Sunday. “Arm gets stronger, and it’s showing. I thought today, it was one of his best games. That’s the Madison we’ve seen for a long time.”
Bumgarner threw 86 pitches and allowed just three more hits over seven innings, with one walk and five strikeouts. He was only pulled because San Francisco had a chance to get Tyler Austin’s bat into the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh against Walker Buehler. He struck out, one of nine Ks on the day for the Dodgers’ young righty.
The Giants got the first two men on in the sixth on an infield hit by Mike Yastrzemski — a bouncer up the middle backhanded by Kike Hernandez, who buried the throw — and a lob wedge single to right by Evan Longoria. San Francisco’s timely hitting woes continued, though, as, for the second time on the game, they got a runner into scoring position with no outs, and came up empty.
Pablo Sandoval — playing first for Brandon Belt, shelved with what was called a stomach virus — sent a hot one-hopper to third baseman Justin Turner, who threw home to cut off Yastrzemski, who was chased back to third and tagged by diving catcher Austin Barnes. Stephen Vogt and RBI leader Kevin Pillar both flied out to end the inning, making the Giants 0-for-7 on the day with men in scoring position, 0-for-18 over the previous two games and 2-for-27 in their last five.
“All you can do is barrel up the ball, and he did that, and Turner made a nice play,” Bochy said. “We just need to get that hit with runners in scoring position that’s been missing the last couple days.”
Bumgarner took his fourth traight loss against Los Angeles, dating back to 2017, and the Giants dropped yet another home series. They have not won a series at Oracle Park since beating the Dodgers April 29-May 1.