Benches Clear Between NL West Rivals (Again)

By Nolan Lees
Giants vs. Padres
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

First, it was the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then, it was the Dodgers again, only this time against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Today, the Padres were back at it, this time with their Northern California rivals, the San Francisco Giants.

For the third time this year, an inside pitch caused benches to clear between National League West teams.

In the top of the second inning, Giants starter Madison Bumgarner threw the first pitch of Jesus Guzman‘s first at-bat behind the first baseman. Guzman immediately started making his way out to the mound and yelled something at Bumgarner, who quickly started yelling back and walking towards Guzman. The umpire and catcher Buster Posey quickly got in between the two, but both benches emptied in anticipation of a fight.

The pitch was more than likely retaliation for Guzman’s actions the night before. After hitting a pinch-hit home run to give the Padres a lead in the eighth inning, Guzman held his bat while he walked up the first base line before turning to the Padres dugout and yelling in celebration. The Giants apparently took umbrage to the display of emotion, as Bumgarner was clearly sending a message in Guzman’s first at-bat.

Guzman got his revenge later in the game when he took Bumgarner deep over the left-field wall to give the Padres the lead in the seventh, but for the second time in less than 24 hours, San Diego was unable to hold on to their late lead. The Giants responded to Guzman’s solo shot with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, capped off by a pinch-hit triple from Gregor Blanco. The Giants won 4-2, taking the series two games to one.

It remains to be seen if any action will be taken by the league office to try to curtail the hostility that has been brewing between NL West teams this year. Bumgarner was most definitely the aggressor in the situation, and seems to be the most likely suspension candidate. However, because he didn’t actually hit Guzman and the bench-clearing “brawl” was defused before any blows were thrown, it’s unlikely that there will be any harsh penalties coming Bumgarner’s way.

The tension between the teams in this division is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. With first and fourth place currently separated by just three games and even the last place Dodgers lurking just eight games out, the games between National League West teams will be meaningful and emotionally charged.

Chances are, this is not the last time this year that we will see hostility between teams out west .

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