LOS ANGELES – If the current playoff pairings hold, the Dodgers and Giants couldn’t face each other any earlier than the NLCS.
Somehow it feels like the playoffs already began, doesn’t it?
One night after these two storied archrivals played a tense and thrilling 13-inning game, they added bad blood and empty benches Tuesday at Chavez Ravine.
Yasiel Puig postured as if to charge the mound after getting hit by a pitch in the first inning, Madison Bumgarner bared his knuckles in an Irish Stand Down pose and the patch of grass between them became a swirling tide pool of gray and white shirts.
No punches were thrown but the Dodgers landed several. First, Matt Kemp hit a two-run home run as part of a three-run first inning. Justin Turner homered twice. And in the end, the Dodgers reduced their magic number to clinch the NL West from three to one with a 4-2 victory over the Giants.
Bumgarner made his own statement with an emotional, two-run home run in the third inning but the Giants had no other response against Zack Greinke, who improved to 5-0 in seven career starts against them.
The Giants’ magic number to clinch a wild card berth still shrank to one because the Milwaukee Brewers lost. But now the Giants are one game behind the Pirates for the wild card lead. Because the Pirates hold the tiebreaker for home-field advantage, the Giants would have to play a potential knockout game at PNC Park unless they can nudge back ahead of Pittsburgh in the victory column.
If the Dodgers win behind Clayton Kershaw and the Brewers lose Wednesday, both the Giants and Dodgers would clinch postseason berths on the same field on the same day. Do not expect two clubhouses to pop corks, though.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner came prepared for a different kind of fight. But when challenged, he met the moment with a flip of the glove and a “bring it” gesture of the hand.
He did not shrink as Puig walked toward the mound, his progress easily impeded by umpire Adrian Johnson and then Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
The Dodgers already had one run across, when Justin Turner led off the first inning with a home run. Bumgarner followed by throwing a 1-2 pitch that he appeared to yank, hitting Puig on the left foot.
On its face, the pitch appeared to be an accident. But given the context, it was understandable that Puig took offense to it. On May 9, Bumgarner jawed at Puig after he hit a home run, flipped his bat and slowly rounded the bases. Afterward, Bumgarner said, tongue in cheek, that he was simply congratulating Puig for taking a nice swing.
Then on Monday night, Jake Peavy hit Puig in the first inning with an 0-1 pitch that appeared to have purpose behind it. The Giants were upset with Puig stemming from a Sept. 13 game at AT&T Park when he made a late, hard and wide takeout slide into second base on shortstop Brandon Crawford with the Dodgers already up 8-0.
So when Puig lay in the dirt after Bumgarner’s slider missed too far inside, his next response was all too predictable. He glanced over his shoulder and back towards the mound. It wasn’t totally conclusive which player began chattering first, but soon enough, Puig was moving toward the mound, Bumgarner was baring his fists and both benches emptied.
No punches were thrown and order was restored, with Johnson issuing warnings to both sides. With neither Bumgarner or Greinke wishing to risk suspension for a possible playoff start, a beanball war did not ensue.
The Dodgers got their revenge another way, when Matt Kemp hit a two-run home run to give the Giants a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Bumgarner gave up two more singles in the inning before escaping.
If the fracas with Puig rattled Bumgarner in the first inning, he quickly flushed it. The big left-hander faced the minimum over the next six innings. That streak ended when Turner took him deep again with one out in the eighth to drive him from the game.
Sergio Romo retired two hitters in the eighth inning.
At the plate
Bumgarner hit two grand slams this season. Who could blame him for enjoying this home run more than the others?
Bumgarner shouted, pumped his fist and nearly separated Tim Flannery’s arm from his body while slapping five around third base following his two-run shot in the third inning.
He became the first Giants pitcher in 80 years to hit four home runs in a season (Hal Schumacher, with six in 1934). His 15 RBIs matched Juan Marichal’s San Francisco-era record for a single season (set in 1966). And he probably locked up the first Silver Slugger to be awarded to a Giants pitcher since Mark Portugal in 1994.
We’re guessing none of those empirical facts are what fueled his emotional sprint around the bases.
Bumgarner showed bunt and fouled off one attempt after Brandon Crawford singled and Juan Perez hit into a forceout. Then he swatted an 0-2 pitch into the left field seats to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2.
Other than that swing, The Giants barely touched Greinke and remained winless in seven career starts against him. Perez continued to pop up everything and Brandon Belt, who showed promise with a pair of late-inning singles Monday night, was 0 for 3 with three strikeouts.
Pablo Sandoval had an interesting takeout slide in the second inning, hitting the dirt 10 feet in front of second base. He found the bag well enough in the fourth, though, after Scott Van Slyke blooped a leadoff single that both middle infielders chased into center field.
With nobody covering second base, Van Slyke tried to stretch his single as Sandoval sprinted over to take a throw and put down a tag. The Dodgers challengedthe out call, and although replays appeared to show that Sandoval tagged the dirt instead of an arm, the call was not overturned.
The Dodgers announced 49,251 paid, and there did not appear to be many tail lights in the parking lot when the final out fell into Kemp’s glove.
In addition to everything else at stake, the Giants and Dodgers will settle their season series on Wednesday. The two teams are 9-9 against each other thus far.
The Giants and Dodgers conclude their season series as well as their three-game set at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday. Tim Hudson (9-12, 3.52 ERA) remains the listed starter to oppose Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw (20-3, 1.80). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PDT.