With the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants competing for first place in the National League West, a new chapter to the storied rivalry is in the process of being written.
Yasiel Puig and Madison Bumgarner crossed paths Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium and their matchups included more than balls and strikes, or hits and outs. Bumgarner hit Puig with a pitch on his left ankle and it led to benches and bullpens emptying onto the field.
The altercation wasn’t necessarily an impulsive act, but rather Puig taking issue with Bumgarner’s comment, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
He looked at me and said, ‘What are you looking at?'” said Puig. “I reacted after that comment.”
Wednesday’s exchange of words wasn’t the first time the two have been at odds that extended beyond playing for different teams. Bumgarner took exception to Puig’s bat flip after he hit a home run May 9 and the Giants pitcher yelled at Puig as he rounded third base.
Tuesday was the second conescutive day the Puig has been hit by a pitch in his first at-bat of the game. Monday’s was speculated as an act of retaliation for Puig’s hard slide during the team’s three-game series in San Francisco.
Puig said he was unsure if Tuesday’s plunking was an extension of his previous run-in with Bumgarner. The southpaw stated it wasn’t intentional and added Puig would be well aware when or if that were the case:
He’ll know if it’s on purpose. I’ll make sure of that. Which it wasn’t. Obviously.”
The Dodgers and Giants won’t meet again unless the stars align in the postseason at which it would be unlikely the Dodgers would retaliate given the stakes. However, with Clayton Kershaw on the mound Wednesday, it wouldn’t necessarily be that much of a stretch to believe he’ll protect Puig.
In his start against the St. Louis Cardinals just out of the All-Star break, Kershaw hit Matt Holliday in a tight game after Puig and Hanley Ramirez were both previously beaned in the series.
With the Dodgers at a much later stage in the season and in position to clinch the division with a win, a response may not come Wednesday. Nonetheless, it’s certainly food for thought.