San Francisco Giants

Giants open critical final series against Dodgers behind Bumgarner

SAN FRANCISCO -- The last on-field meeting between Madison Bumgarner and Yasiel Puig ended with the two having to be separated from each other while benches cleared in a Giants loss in Los Angeles.

Bumgarner again faces the Dodgers in the opener of the final series of the regular season Friday night. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before the game he did not expect any pre-game warnings from the umpiring crew or carryover between the two players.

"It’s not the first time I’ve seen a couple guys who don’t seem to see eye to eye in this game," Bochy said.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts echoed that sentiment to reporters Friday afternoon.

"I think there’s a very slim chance something happens between the two guys," Roberts said. "Obviously they’re playing for something, as are we."

Of course, Bumgarner-Puig is only a subplot in a final series rife with implications -- for the Giants in particular.

The Dodgers have already wrapped up the division. But they can still spoil things for the Giants, who are fighting for a wild-card berth. The Giants enter Friday trailing the Mets by a game for the top wild-card spot and leading the Cardinals by a game for the second spot. Both those teams were leading their games about an hour before first pitch between the Giants and Dodgers.

This series will also feature the farewell of longtime Dodgers broadcast Vin Scully, who will call his final game Sunday. The Dodgers already provided one glorious finale for Scully, clinching the division with a walk-off win in Scully’s last broadcast at Dodger Stadium, and surely would enjoy providing him a few more highlights.

With the Dodgers starting left-hander Rich Hill in the opener, the Giants are running out a heavily right-handed lineup, with Gorkys Hernandez in center field, Kelby Tomlinson playing second base and Gordon Beckham making his first start for the Giants at third.

Beckham, acquired for the final week and ineligible for the playoffs, is replacing Eduardo Nunez, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury. Bochy said Nunez would not be ready to return until Sunday at the earliest, and said he is more "hopeful" than certain of that possibility.

The Giants will face another lefty on Saturday in Clayton Kershaw. Their starting pitcher for that game has still not been named; Bochy said he would do so after Friday’s game.

Finally, Bochy said he expects the controversial finish of Thursday’s Cardinals-Reds game to be a topic of discussion this offseason. Yadier Molina’s walk-off hit, which appeared to be a ground-rule double that was not called, was not reviewed because it was ruled the Reds did not challenge the call immediately.

"It’s an unfortunate incident, especially in this time in baseball where you’re trying to get it right," Bochy said. "But hey, it happened. Our focus right now is on tonight."

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