SAN FRANCISCO – He finished sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth in subsequent innings. For the 24th time the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants played this season, the gap between baseball’s two best teams was still as thin as the outer edge of the umpire’s strike zone.
Two teams with 109 wins, regular season plus postseason, bitter rivals and no one wants to go home. Until, finally, it was time: Unable to hold the Giants in the regular season and now go as far as this best-of-five National League division series can go, the Dodgers knocked out Giants rookie Camilo Doval for a close two. Gave. Cody Bellinger, one-out base runner in the ninth on Thursday night before turning a slider, redirected an 87-mph pitch on the grass where right fielder Austin Slater and center fielder Kris Bryant could do nothing But look at it. .
Justin Turner raced home from second place, Max Scherzer worked ninth to collect the first save of his career, and a 2–1 victory sent the Dodgers to Atlanta, where they won the NL Championship on Saturday night. The series will open.
The end, however, did not come without controversy. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Wilmer faced Flores Scherzer and quickly fell 0–2. Flores tried to check his swing on the slider by Scherzer, but the umpires determined he had passed, ending the game and the series on a judgment call that was not reviewable. The incoming call to season-ending matchups between rival clubs will undoubtedly be debated for years to come.
How big was this matchup? According to the Alias Sports Bureau, this was only the fifth time that two teams with 100 or more wins played in a winner-take-all postseason game. And the team with fewer regular season wins was the winner in three of the last four games. Now, make that a four out of five.
The crowd of 42,275 dressed in black and orange said, “Beat la! Hit LA!” Upstairs in a suite was the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Down in a box seat near the Giants dugout barry bond. Both received thunderous ovations when they were shown on the scoreboard in the middle of the innings. Bond smiled as he rose from his seat, waving his hand in applause from the crowd.
It was a night of cheers and smiles, moments big and small. The Dodgers dropped the first bomb of the day on Thursday morning when they announced that Cory Nebel would start in place of Julio Ureas. There was nothing wrong with the urea. He entered the game in the third. It was one of baseball’s richest franchises, leaning on the use of an opener like the low-cost Tampa Bay Rays.
The Giants didn’t blink until about 90 minutes before game time except to finalize their lineup, as they studied the numbers and revised their scripts. The one thing they weren’t changing was handing the ball to 24-year-old Logan Webb, and he was almost as strong as he was in Game 1, when he closed the Dodgers in seven and two-thirds innings .
The only fault on Thursday came in the sixth, when Mookie Bates broke off a single and stole another. Next, Corey Seeger smashed an opposite field base hit that took him home.
The leadership lasted almost no time at all. Proceeding from the bottom of the inning, left fielder Darin Roof caught a 94-mph Ureas fastball, sending it over the center field fence for the game at 1–1. The blast was 452 feet, the tallest homer had ever seen since this season.
The Dodgers’ only failure was that they had only one bet to face Webb. When Webb was out in Game 5 after seven innings, it was 1–1 and Dodgers superstar outfielder Bates scored 5 for 7 against him in Games 1 and 5. The rest of the Dodgers were 3 for 46.
Low margins and lost opportunities defined the evening. The Giants had chances in the first four innings against the Dodgers’ Nebel (1st inning), Brusader Greaterol (2nd) and the Ureas opening parade, but failed to take the lead at 0 for 5 with the runners in the scoring position.
When the fourth innings ended, the Giants were 3 for 25 with the runners up in the scoring position in the series. They will regret that all winter.
It was the first time since the Giants moved west in 1958 that they had faced the same opponent at least 24 times in a season. The last time they met an opponent 24 or more times was in 1951, when they and the Brooklyn Dodgers played 25 games against each other. That final game was one of the most memorable in history, with the Giants winning on Bobby Thomson’s ninth-innings home run.
Legendary Dodgers Broadcaster Vin Scully checked in via Twitter on Thursday afternoon, calling the game “the most important game in the history of their rivalry. With a nearly identical record, and so much more at stake, I believe it just so happens.”
If this was the most important game, the Dodgers would have bragging rights for years to come.