The day belonged to Bruce Bochy. The Giants manager's 162-game farewell tour finally came to an end Sunday, but in the middle of it all, another Giants goodbye might have taken place in a 9-0 loss to the Dodgers.
Madison Bumgarner walked up the steps of the Giants dugout at Oracle Park on Sunday for the perhaps one last time. Fittingly, the longtime staff ace was here to prove once again that pitchers can rake.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Bumgarner put on his one batting glove and strapped both an elbow and leg guard on. He was here to face Clayton Kershaw, a rival who has become a friend over the years while the two have become the top left-handed pitchers in the NL West.
“I actually made a joke about it before the game," Kershaw said. "I was like, ‘He’s probably gonna pinch-hit against me,’ and yeah, it happened.”
Bumgarner pinch-hit for shortstop Brandon Crawford. Kershaw threw him seven straight fastballs until the Giants star pitcher lined out on a 3-2 count to third baseman Jedd Gyorko.
As he walked off the mound, Kershaw pointed to Bumgarner and tipped his cap to Bochy.
Bumgarner lined out against Kershaw and Kershaw tipped his capped to MadBum and Bochy. What a cool moment pic.twitter.com/ESvxG2H1zq— Dalton Johnson (@DaltonJ_Johnson) September 29, 2019
Plenty of credit should go to Dodgers rookie catcher Will Smith. From the moment Smith saw Bumgarner walk towards the plate, he made sure to go to the mound and give Giants fans as much time as they wanted to give MadBum a standing ovation.
Giants fans stood on their feet, relishing every moment of MadBum tipping his cap with Smith and Kershaw standing on the mound.
“Clayton called me out to make sure he got a little time for a standing ovation," Smith said. "That’s the kind of respect they have for each other. It’s pretty cool to be a part of it.”
Even though this was the first time the 24-year-old Smith found himself in the middle of a Bumgarner-Kershaw battle, he certainly knew what it means to the rivalry and all of baseball.
“There’s a lot of history between those two," Smith said. "Two dominant lefties in the game. It’s just cool to see them face off.”
And while the day belonged to the man who's hanging up his spikes as the Giants' manager, the man leading his team in the opposing dugout played a big role. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts played two seasons under Bochy as a Giant in 2007 and '08. Roberts managed against Bochy the last four seasons, but more than anything, two great baseball minds became friends after many years on the field.
Roberts says he didn't know Bumgarner would find his way into the game, though the Dodgers skipper admits he's happy Bochy told his ace to grab a bat.
"I think the timing was perfect to get Bum an at-bat," Roberts said. "Moments in sports … that was a good moment.”
Giants fans honored Bochy all day, and deservedly so. After 10 years together, though, Bumgarner might have had his final moment in a Giants jersey the same day Bochy did.
Maybe that's how it should be, too.