SAN FRANCISCO — As Madison Bumgarner’s single rocketed into left, giving the Giants pitcher a walk-off in extra innings, right fielder Hunter Pence took off on a dead sprint. He was headed for the big left-hander, but not simply to celebrate. Pence has been around long enough to know that the other Giants needed to be careful about what they might try to pull in a celebration.
Infielder Alen Hanson was unable to be saved.
Hanson grabbed a Gatorade jug and headed for the night’s hero. Bumgarner calmly put his right arm up and deflected the attempt. Somehow, Hanson emerged with a jersey that had turned red.
“He started dumping it on me and I told him not to do it,” Bumgarner said. “So he poured it on himself.”
Yes, Madison Bumgarner is still the alpha in the room, and for good reason. The Giants ran out of position players even with a September roster stocked with extras, so they turned to their ace. He calmly drove in Gorkys Hernandez in the 12th, giving the Giants a 5-4 win over the Padres. The moment should have been out of place. For Bumgarner, it wasn’t. This has come to be expected, and Pence said he had a good feeling as Bumgarner grabbed a bat.
Bumgarner simply shrugged it all off. He nearly snuck out of AT&T Park before reporters caught him in a hallway. Asked about the game-winner, he paused.
“Wet,” he said. “Wet.”
Well, it wasn’t all that wet. Bumgarner’s right hand made sure of that. What, he doesn’t like Gatorade?
“Not, like, on me. Not particularly, no,” he said.
A few minutes later, Bumgarner was back on his way to the players’ parking lot. His next appearance here will come Friday against a Dodgers team that may need every win the rest of the way to clinch the NL West crown. Bumgarner was originally supposed to end his season on Wednesday, but the Giants pushed him back. This season will not end the way they hoped, but there’s still a chance for a measure of redemption. Knocking the Dodgers out would bring some joy to a downtrodden fan base, and Bumgarner is the sharpest weapon Bruce Bochy has.
“Even though it’s not necessarily the kind of meaningful baseball we want, it’s still a meaningful game,” Bumgarner said. “Any time you play the Dodgers it’s competitive. I’m not trying to look at it as anything but pitching and doing your job. I’m not trying to add anything extra to it.”
There will be something extra, though. Giants-Dodgers with a division title on the line is great. Giants-Dodgers with a chance for one team to play the ultimate spoiler is still pretty damn exciting, so perhaps there’s another reason why Pence played bodyguard.
The Giants want Bumgarner in peak form on Friday, so this celebration was short-lived. Bumgarner made sure of that. Asked how Bumgarner managed to avoid all that liquid flying around, Pence smiled.
“He was telling everyone he was going to kill them,” he said.