LOS ANGELES — It’s what America wanted.
It’s what this historic rivalry deserves.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have already played 131 years against one another, moving from coast to coast, staging an epic division race that wasn’t decided until the 162nd game of the regular season, so it’s only fitting that their season is coming down to one last game.
With a 7-2 win Tuesday night against the Giants, the Dodgers force a Game 5. This was in front 52,534 people at Dodger Stadium. The result forced Oracle Park to host a final game of the best of five National League Division Series.
The National League Championship Series will begin Saturday in Atlanta.
The winner goes home with at least 110 regular wins.
“This is what baseball wants,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. We’ll be the only one in town, since all the series have ended. Dodgers – Giants will be a great choice for anyone who has a pulse and is a fan of sports. This is going to be an amazing game.
We are pleased to present the latest chapter in the witty rivalry which will follow one franchise through spring training.
These will be Logan Webb (Giants) and Julio Urias (Dodgers), who are the youngest starting pitchers. Webb was the winner of Game 1 in this series. Urias won Game 2. The only thing anyone can remember about Game 5 is the winner.
“He’s ready for it,” said Giants manager Gabe Kapler about Webb. “We’ll get the rest of the club ready as well.”
Naturally, the Dodgers should have been here. Up to this point, they won eight straight NL West championships. They won three pennants since 2013 and last year’s World Series. The team was hailed as the best ever.
Well, the Giants?
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They haven’t been to the postseason since 2016, which was their last winning season. Since that first postseason appearance, they have been a combined total of 101.5 games behind the leader. FanGraphs had them win no more that 76 games.
They have had the last laugh. After winning a record 107 games in franchise history, they are now just one win away from reaching their first NLCS appearance since 2014.
All the talk about the Dodgers-San Diego Padres being the West’s new rival, offending our senses.
It had to be a source of frustration for the Giants.
“I actually don’t feel that way,’’ Kapler said. “I understood. “I understood right from the beginning why the Dodgers were the best baseball team and why I could not understand why the Padres would challenge for the National League West championship.
“There was no point in the season where I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe like people still think these teams are really good.’ The Padres had an exceptional year, were extremely talented and faced many challenges. They’re as good as any team, and have won 106 games.
“None of those things surprise me.’’
So the fact that the Dodgers-Giants rivalry comes down to an elimination game to join baseball’s Final Four, with the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros all set for the ALCS and Atlanta clinching its berth Tuesday with a victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The elimination game was set up with Walker Buehler, pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in his career, holding the Giants to one run for 4 ⅓ innings, and turning the game over to vaunted bullpen.
“He’s one of the best, if not the best postseason pitcher in baseball,’’ Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor said. “Just the mentality he has, and he’s got the power, strikeout stuff.’’
The Giants, meanwhile, went through their entire bullpen Rolodex trying to slow down the Dodgers, using seven pitchers after starter Anthony DeSclifini lasted just 1 ⅔ innings.
While the Dodgers did their best to keep the Giants within striking distance, they missed numerous opportunities. They stranded 11 baserunners going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, finally pulling away on catcher Will Smith’s two-run homer in the eighth.
The Dodgers don’t care about the circumstances, they are used to it and won’t blink, no matter what the outcome. After being 3-1 down in the NLCS last season, they won the elimination games and tied the World Series at 2 games each before beating the Tampa Bay Rays in two.
So what’s a little division series game?
“I just think we’re best when our backs are against the wall,’’ Taylor said, “and we’ve shown that. We understand we still control our own destiny.’’
Dodgers All-Star second baseman Mookie Betts has been a regular in the playoffs for 44 of his eight-year playing career.
Betts drove in three of the Dodgers’ seven runs with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and sprinkled in an infield single.
Do you think that a Dodgers-Red Sox series could be exciting? Betts, pitchers Joe Kelly, and David Price would face their old team that included former Dodgers Enrique Hernandez (and Alex Verdugo).
Five more victories are needed by the Dodgers, while four more must be won by the Red Sox to complete their sweep.
For now, the Dodgers’ only concern is Thursday night, in the latest and greatest battle of their rivalry, with the last remaining Division Series game of the season.
“We know we got a tough task at hand,’’ Giants infielder/outfielder Kris Bryant said, “but it’s been pretty special what we’ve been able to do. We are just as resilient and prove people wrong. …
“It’s just all come together at the right time, and 107 wins later, and now we’re in this position.’’
We look forward to seeing you on Thursday evening.
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