Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Half-Jokingly Predicted Madison Bumgarner Pinch-Hit Appearance

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants entered Sunday’s regular-season finale at Oracle Park in vastly different positions. The Dodgers are days of embarking on a seventh consecutive postseason appearance, while the Giants face plenty of uncertainty.

Manager Bruce Bochy is believed to have entered retirement — though there are rumblings he could be pursued by the San Diego Padres, among other clubs — and longtime Giants franchise pillar Madison Bumgarner is due to reach free agency this winter.

Bumgarner was initially listed as the probable for the series finale against the Dodgers, though Bochy announced a change of plans so as to have the left-hander by his side in the dugout. Nevertheless there was expected to be an opportunity for fans to thank Bumgarner in what may have been his final game with the Giants.

That came in the bottom of the fifth inning when he was sent to the plate as pinch-hitter against none other than Clayton Kershaw, who was making his first relief appearance in the regular season since 2009.

Aware of the plan to pitch out of the bullpen, Kershaw revealed he somewhat anticipated an opportunity to face Bumgarner, according to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“I actually made a joke about it before the game — ‘He’s probably going to pinch-hit against me’ — and it happened,” Kershaw said.

“It was cool. Once he saw that he wasn’t pitching today, some way to let the fans appreciate what he had done here — that was a good way to do it. Get him in there against a left-hander he has a few homers against. It was a fun moment. He meant so much to this organization. He’s going to keep playing but most likely not here so it was a great way to honor that.”

Kershaw called Will Smith to the mound after Bumgarner was announced as the pinch-hitter, which provided Oracle Park with their chance for a standing ovation. Bumgarner doffed his helmet to the stands and stepped into the batter’s box.

He received nothing but fastballs from Kershaw before hitting a soft line drive to third base. Bumgarner received a second standing ovation, and Kershaw tipped his cap to his left-handed contemporary and Bochy.