Just 11 days after the Los Angeles Dodgers' Max Muncy made literal and figurative waves in a matchup against San Francisco Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, the combatants will renew what has become an instant rivalry.
On June 9 at San Francisco, Muncy crushed a first-inning Bumgarner pitch into McCovey Cove over the right field wall. It ended up being the only run of the game, but that hardly was the problem.
Bumgarner appeared to take issue with Muncy's slow departure from the home-plate area. Muncy also got off a very low-key bat flip as he started his home run trot.
Bumgarner could be seen yelling at Muncy and waving his arm toward first base as if telling him to get going. Muncy waved his own arms as if to brush off Bumgarner's complaints before he got to first base, then seemed to invite the pitcher out to the basepath as he ran between first and second base.
After what was yet another classic game in a classic rivalry, more details were revealed afterward.
"I told him, 'If you don't want me to watch the ball, you can go in the ocean and get it,'" Muncy told the Dodgers' on-field reporter afterward. "Honestly, I thought it was probably one of my tamer bat-flips that I've ever done. I didn't actually think it was anything outrageous. I took one or two steps out of the box, started jogging, and that was really all it was."
Bumgarner gave his side of the story.
"He just struck a pose and walked further than I liked," Bumgarner told the media in the locker room. "That's fine. If you want to do that, do it, but I'm going to do what I want to do."
Old-school to the core, Bumgarner helped kept the regional rivalry spicy with his no-nonsense attitude. Before Muncy, Bumgarner had his issues with then-Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, now with the Cincinnati Reds.
An added note when Bumgarner takes the mound at Dodger Stadium on Thursday is that it could be his last start against the Dodgers as a member of the Giants. He is expected to be moved by the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of July, and the teams won't meet again until September.
The Dodgers have won two of three in the current four-game series, and on Wednesday they became the first team in the majors to reach 50 wins this season -- and the first Dodgers club to reach 50 wins in its first 75 games since 1977.
Bumgarner (3-6, 3.87 ERA) has made 35 appearances against the Dodgers, 34 of them starts. He is 15-13 against Los Angeles with a 2.52 ERA. One sore spot of late has been Los Angeles' Enrique Hernandez, who is 24-for-48 against Bumgarner with four home runs and nine RBIs.
The Dodgers will counter with Julio Urias (3-2, 3.05), who is moving back into the rotation for a game but is not expected to have a long night. The left-hander has not pitched more than three innings since April 18. Urias is 0-2 in nine appearances (four starts) against the Giants, but he does have a 1.63 ERA against them.
A day after the Los Angeles bullpen had to pick up eight innings when Rich Hill had to leave after the first because of left forearm discomfort on Wednesday night, the relievers essentially will have another nine innings to cover Thursday. The five relievers used by the Dodgers were effective Wednesday, helping Los Angeles to a 9-2 victory.
The Dodgers made Thursday's game a bullpen game to give each starter an extra day of rest -- plus moving everyone back gives Hyun-Jin Ryu a better schedule moving into July that could allow him to start for the National League in the All-Star Game if he gets the honor.
--Field Level Media