Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner delivered a gem last night against the Dodgers, tossing eight innings of one-run ball as part of a 3-1 victory. The lone run scored on a solo home run by Yasiel Puig in the bottom of the sixth inning. And the blast nearly caused a benches-clearing incident.
As you’ll see in the video here, Bumgarner was apparently offended by Puig’s bat flip and let him know about it as he came down the third base line. Puig slowed down his trot to bark back at Bumgarner, but the umpires prevented things from escalating any further.
Via Chris Haft of MLB.com, Bumgarner played coy about the situation after the game:
“I was congratulating him. It was a really good hit. It was impressive. Again, I don’t know why everybody got so mad. It escalated quickly for no reason. I think he said, ‘Thank you.’ I’m not sure if he did. I don’t speak Spanish very well.”
Via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly felt that Bumgarner overreacted:
“He hit it, flipped it and ran. I’m not sure what he’s upset about. You see guys do stuff every day. The double standard is always annoying. Obviously, Yasiel is a little bit of a lightning rod. He plays hard. I didn’t think he did anything wrong.”
Meh. On a scale of 1-to-Puig, this bat flip was about a three. Far from his best work. Maybe Bumgarner was mad that he didn’t flip it with more enthusiasm? That’s gotta be it. I was disappointed too.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.