LOS ANGELES – Yasiel Puig homered in the sixth inning Friday night and flipped his bat and plodded around the bases until he reached home, where Madison Bumgarner was waiting.
Bumgarner shouted at Puig, who turned and shouted back, and grown men rose to their dugout rails to see what would come of the latest disagreement between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, between pitcher and batter.
His eye on Bumgarner, Puig walked the last 10 feet, as he had the first 10. With his left hand, he shooed Bumgarner back to the mound. Buster Posey, the Giants catcher, stood a respectful distance from Puig and waved him to the dugout.
Bumgarner and Puig parted without further incident, though with yet another line drawn between victimized pitcher and flamboyant batter, not three weeks after Gerrit Cole, Carlos Gomez and friends tussled in Pittsburgh in a similar dispute over batter's box comportment.
"I think we all know what caused it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Like any competitors, these guys just [are], you know, a little upset at times when they think they're getting shown up. It's just part of our game. The bat flips and that stuff, a lot of pitchers are getting upset."
By Puig standards, there wasn't much to see beyond the fastball he'd pulverized. Though the solo home run to straight-up center field merely brought the Dodgers from down three to down two in what would be a 3-1 win for the Giants, Puig enjoyed it. Bumgarner, who'd been teased by teammates last month for his own understated bat flip, charted Puig's behavior over 350 feet. By then, he was close enough so Puig could hear him.
"Oh, I mean, I was just congratulating him," Bumgarner said with a somewhat straight face. "That was a really good swing. I don't know why everybody got mad. That was impressive."
On the issue of the bat flip, or Puig's pace out of the box, Bumgarner remained coy.
"No," he said. "I was just congratulating him. A really good hit. Again, I don't know why everybody got so mad. It escalated really quickly. I think he said, 'Thank you.' I don't speak Spanish though."
The Dodgers – losers again, now 4½ games behind the Giants, and defending Puig again – weren't quite as mirthful.
"It surprised me a little bit that he was there after I hit the home run," Puig said, "but it seemed that I may have done something he didn't like. It's just part of the game."
He added he didn't understand what Bumgarner said – so apparently "congratulations" is still in play – but did hear Posey say, "Let it go. Go back to the bench."
More than one team accused the Dodgers – and Puig in particular – of having too much fun last season, including the St. Louis Cardinals, who in the NLCS railed against the Dodgers' "Mickey Mouse" antics. Puig was front and center in an all-out brawl against the Arizona Diamondbacks. All of which furthered a national conversation about the supposed "right way" to play the game, and pitchers' reactions to so-called violations of unwritten codes and rules, and whether everyone has become overly sensitive to throwaway moments.
"It always surprises me when guys react to things when their team does the exact same stuff," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It's always a double standard to me. …He hit it, he flipped and he ran, so I'm not quite sure what he's upset about. You see guys do stuff every day, so it's a double standard to me."
The rest of the game passed without incident. Puig flew out on the first pitch of the ninth inning against Giants closer Sergio Romo, and two batters later the Giants' victory was secure. So pleased, in fact, was Romo, that he twirled on the infield and pointed joyfully to the sky.
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