Dodgers Outlast Giants To Reach NLCS
SAN FRANCISCO – When the chase was over and the Los Angeles Dodgers finally caught up with the San Francisco Giants, when their blue uniforms were soaked in champagne and their raw nerves were slowly returning, Max Scherzer could only shake his head and marvel.
âIt’s crazy,â said Scherzer, who made the first save of his career while retaining the Dodgers 2-1 victory in Game 5. âSince I’ve been here, I understand. These two cities don’t like each other, these two teams don’t like each other and it’s great to be a part of it.
âThat’s what makes the sport great, when you have two fan bases that don’t like each other, the players respect each other, play the game well but just want to fight each other. ‘other.”
The Dodgers galloped for more than six months and 24 games against the Giants, until the last strike in an NL Division series that had been pushed to its limit. And even then, the debates and bruised feelings will continue for years to come.
The last strike? With Kris Bryant on first base, two strikeouts and the 42,275 fans crammed into the roar of Oracle Park, Giants first goal Wilmer Flores started delivering an 87 mph slider. He held on, but home plate umpire Doug Eddings called on first baseman Gabe Morales and Morales threw his fist up for the third strike.
The Dodgers jumped over the railing of their dugout canoe. The Giants saw their season come to an end.
San Francisco may have ended the Dodgers’ attempt to win a ninth straight NL West title this summer, but the Dodgers have taken their revenge. Next up for Los Angeles: Atlanta, and Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, which is scheduled for Saturday night.
Chess to check is perhaps the most difficult of all referee appeals. There is no black and white rule. Rather, the rulebook asks the umpire to decide whether the batter offered a pitch. At the time, Morales said yes.
After watching a replay?
“He doesn’t mean anything,” said Ted Barrett, the team manager who accompanied Morales into the post-game interview room.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler was courteous, calling it “super tough” and saying “you don’t want a game to end that way”. But he also argued that “there is no need to be angry about this”.
Scherzer, who pitched the pitch, said: âI don’t know. I didn’t look at it well. I just knew I had to run a cursor down in this situation. I got him and I just looked at first base and saw he was going. That’s all.”
The fact that Scherzer was closing was a prime example of not only how this game was back – the Dodgers pushed starter Julio Urias’s working day back in the third inning and chose to start the game with an opener, the reliever. Corey Knebel – but also how they needed every weapon at their disposal to get past the Giants. And even that was almost not enough.
âKnowing that you have, I guess, an ace in the hole is a good feeling,â said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I just wanted to try and find the ultimate leverage point to deploy it.”
The teams traded points in the sixth, with Mookie Betts hitting a single against Giants starter Logan Webb, stealing second and scoring on Corey Seager’s hit. Darin Ruf responded by crushing a 452-foot homeroom at the end of the sixth against Urias, bringing the score to 1-1.
But the Dodgers had reason to believe they could win as the game stretched.
First, the Giants had gone 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position against Knebel, Brusdar Graterol and Urias in the first four innings, bringing their futility streak to 3 for 25 in those situations for the series.
Second, the core Dodgers are a deeply proven group in combat who have now won six straight elimination games. They fell behind Atlanta three-to-one in last year’s NLCS before winning three in a row. Then they beat St. Louis in this year’s NL wild card game. And to ultimately overtake the Giants, they had to win two more potential playoff games.
The coup de grace was delivered by Cody Bellinger, winner of the 2019 NL Most Valuable Player Award, who had struggled this summer. He underwent right shoulder surgery last November after dislocating himself several times, including once while celebrating his NLCS Game 7 home run against Atlanta by slapping his forearms with his teammate from the era, KikÃ© Hernandez. Then in April, Bellinger suffered a hairline crack in his left fibula.
He ended up hitting .165 this season with a career percentage of .542 on a plus slugging basis. But against Giants’ closest, Camilo Doval, with two in play and one out in the ninth inning, he activated a 1-2 slider, pushing him into center-right fielder for a single RBI that kept the Dodgers staying. on your mind.
âBaseball is tough, man,â Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner said. âYou fail so much. You fail almost every day. When you’re hot, you’re hot for a week. Then you come back to failure. I appreciate how difficult the game is from a hitting point of view, from a pitching point of view. Sometimes I think other people forget about it.
“It only takes one stroke of the bat to be forgiven, basically.”
Absolution came in the form of hugs, slaps and champagne. Bellinger unleashed a primitive scream as he reached first base while looking into the Dodgers dugout. This was the moment when the whole season’s pursuit finally turned in their favor.
âI’ve learned a lot from the season,â said Bellinger, 26.
This was only the fifth time that two teams with 100 or more wins in the regular season have played in a winner’s playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And the team with the fewest regular season wins have won three of the previous four games. Now do four out of five.
âThey wouldn’t lose in the end,â Scherzer said of the Giants. âWe played amazing baseball until the end and felt we were going to win the division and they wouldn’t lose. It shows you how great they were. Is it a 107-win team? It’s crazy.
As the Giants return home for the winter, the Dodgers will move on. And despite the start of Game 3 of this series and the close of Game 5, Scherzer remains on track to start Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday, according to Roberts.
âIt’s like being a little kid again,â said Scherzer, smiling, of October. âYou just throw whenever you’re told. Every day you have a chance to help the team and you go out and throw. It’s like being 12 again.