Friday’s series opener with the Dodgers was the most meaningful game the Giants have played in weeks.
This final weekend series is about more than winning — that ship has sailed — it’s about pride. No one in orange and black cares to see a swarm of Dodgers blue jumping up and down in a frenzied dog pile in the middle of the AT&T Park infield, or imagine the champagne soaking into the carpet of the visiting clubhouse.
So seeking to shut their division rivals out of October for the first time in five years, the Giants pushed ace Madison Bumgarner’s final start of the season back a game so he’d be available for the series, but it was to no avail.
In a series that was expected to energize the slumbering Giants (73-87) offense, they mustered just one run, a leadoff homer from Dodgers nemesis Nick Hundley (10) in the second off Hyun-Jin Ryu (W, 7-3, 1.97 ERA), and fell 3-1 to LA.
Bumgarner’s final outing of 2018 wasn’t his sharpest. He allowed three runs on seven hits through six innings.
He said he only really wants two pitches back, though. One was the 90-mph first-pitch cookie he tossed to Justin Turner right down the middle that Turner launched over the wall (14) to put the Dodgers ahead 3-1.
“[The pitch was] just a fastball up and in. It wasn’t terrible, it didn’t get in as much as I would like, but I’ve still beat him on that pitch quite a few times. He’s a smart hitter, he made an adjustment and got to it.”
Other than the homer, Bumgarner (L, 6-7, 3.26 ERA) scattered six singles and a walk, limiting the lethal weapon that is Manny Machado to just one hit, which came on the other pitch the big southpaw wanted back—a single in the third that scored Kiké Hernandez from second.
Bumgarner entered the sixth at 96 pitches and tossed what was probably his strongest frame, winning a nine pitch battle with Chris Taylor to open the inning, ultimately coaxing him to ground out to short. He then drew a deep fly out to center from Yasmani Grandal on two pitches. And facing his final batter of 2018, he struck out Brian Dozier looking, to end the inning and his night, tying a season-high at 112 pitches.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner put up a ‘gutty effort’ noting that his ace tossed a quality start despite a heavy pitch count, but in a refrain he’s had to use seemingly more nights than not this season, he said:
“We just couldn’t get a hit.”
So Bumgarner closes the book on his injury-shortened 2018 season with 129-2/3 innings pitched, 109 strikeouts, a 3.26 ERA and just the second losing record of his career.
And speaking of things he’d like to take back, when asked how he felt about his season overall he said:
“I don’t know, there was a few starts in September I’d like to be able to go back and do again but you can’t do that so, I don’t know. I’d like to have a full -[season], [but] besides that…”
He trailed off. Much like, it seems, the Giants season is.
They went 1-5 with runners in scoring position Friday, grounding into a season-high five double plays and stranding five runners.
But San Francisco can find solace in one thing after their 87th loss of the season. The Rockies gave up no ground to the Dodgers in the West, knocking four shots out of the park at Coors Field, taking a 5-2 victory over the Nationals and remaining one game ahead of LA.
The Giants penultimate game of the season will see standout rookie Dereck Rodríguez (6-4, 2.50) take on Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.53) as San Francisco seeks to block Los Angeles’ path to October, once and for all.
The Giants presented closer Will Smith with the 2018 Willie Mac Award before Friday’s game. The honor is reserved for the player teammates, coaches, training staff and fans view as the most inspirational. …Austin Slater joined the ranks of the infirm straining his elbow on a throw home in the third. It’s an issue he says he’s dealt with on and off for the last month:
“I didn’t feel a pop or anything like that. It’s usually been giving me some tingles after I’ve been throwing in the last month, but it’s gone away 30-40 seconds after I throw, and tonight just the soreness and pain stayed there.”
Slater is scheduled for an MRI and to be examined by the team doctor tomorrow morning. He was not wearing any sort of sling or bandage on the injured arm after the game.