MILWAUKEE -- It's nearly impossible to find positives on a winless road trip, but for a few minutes Sunday morning, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was energized. He leaned back in his office chair and spoke about the fight he sees in a group that simply doesn’t have the talent right now to compete with teams like the Brewers.
This likely wasn't what Bochy had in mind.
The Giants capped a winless road trip with an awful loss that turned when their franchise pitcher gave up a grand slam moments after the benches briefly cleared.
Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner hit Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun to load the bases in the sixth inning, and Braun clearly thought it was intentional. The two exchanged words, and Bumgarner appeared to invite Braun out to the mound to try and do something about his feelings.
Instead, the Brewers punched back at the plate. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop hit a grand slam, and the Giants went down quietly, losing 6-3.
There have been many low points over the last month, but the defining image of this collapse might have come as Schoop rounded the bases. The Brewers emptied the dugout, greeting Schoop so enthusiastically in front of it that an umpire had to usher them back to their bench. Schoop practically walked around the bases as Bumgarner stood on the mound and looked up into the seats, rubbing up a new ball.
It appeared some of the Brewers were yelling at him, but Bumgarner said he didn’t notice.
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t hear them. I’m sure they were excited. It was a big hit for them.”
It was another crushing blow for the Giants. They have long since abandoned any playoff hopes, but Bochy wanted this group to try and finish strong. With a one-run lead in the sixth, it appeared Bumgarner could help them end this road trip on a high note. Instead, he very nearly ended up in the middle of another fight.
Braun hit a double off the top of the wall in the first and flied out to center in the fourth. With two on in the sixth, Bumgarner certainly wasn’t trying to load the bases. But he wasn’t trying to give Braun a chance to extend his arms, either. The first pitch was up and in, and Braun took a deep breath. The second pitch wasn’t in, but it again was up at eye level, and Braun took a long look out at the mound.
“That’s where we’re trying to go,” Bumgarner said. “I know what kind of hitter he is, and he seems to see me pretty well. It if leaks back over the plate, he’s going to have a good chance of doing damage. I don’t know if he thought I was trying to hit him or what. The second pitch really was over the middle of the plate but up.”
The third pitch clipped Braun. As Giants catcher Nick Hundley stepped between the hitter and pitcher, Braun said a few words to Bumgarner. It appeared Bumgarner told Braun to come out to the mound.
“There was no intent,” Bumgarner said later. “That’s it.”
Both benches were warned, and three Brewers -- including manager Craig Counsell -- were ejected before play resumed. Bumgarner then hung a cutter to Schoop, and that was that.
Bumgarner said he still wasn't thinking about the near-altercation.
“I was in the same spot mentally that I was in the entire game,” Bumgarner said. “That’s just a bad pitch.”
At one point, Bumgarner looked poised to hand a lead over to Will Smith. He ended up being charged with five runs and took the loss.
The Giants had their first winless six-game trip in two years, and Bochy is right in a way. This Giants team, overmatched as it is, does tend to scratch and claw in the late innings. But it’s not enough, and it’s not a good team. A season that started with so much promise has become a slow, depressing march toward Game 162.
In a silent clubhouse, Bumgarner tried to make sense of the last week.
“That’s obviously not what any of us set out to do,” he said. “That’s probably the worst road trip most anybody in here has been a part of. It’s hard to swallow.”