The Division Series has come to a close, and while three of the four showdowns weren’t particularly close after the first couple games, fans got to experience a true classic in the last one. The Giants and Dodgers hadn’t faced each other in any kind of postseason series since 1962, and that was technically a regular season three-game tiebreaker. The historic rivals squared off and went the distance in a five-game NLDS masterpiece.
What happened last night?
NLDS Game 5
(LAD wins series 3-2, advances to NLCS)
What a ballgame. Fresh off dominating the Dodgers in Game 1, Giants ace Logan Webb turned the trick again with a masterful seven-inning performance. Mookie Betts got three hits against him, but until the sixth, he was the only man to reach base outside of a Will Smith walk. L.A. scratched its only run off Webb after that third Betts single, as Mookie stole second and scored on a knock by Corey Seager to pull ahead, 1-0.
San Francisco answered right back with a Darin Ruf solo shot off Julio Urías to tie it up. However, that was the only run that the Dodgers’ pitching staff allowed all night. They went with an unorthodox plan of Corey Knebel as an opener, but it worked to perfection. Knebel, Brusdar Graterol, Blake Treinen, and Kenley Jansen each threw shutout innings, and as the surprise bulk guy, Urías threw four frames of one-run ball.
The Dodgers finally pulled ahead in the ninth against previously dominant new closer Camilo Doval. Justin Turner was plunked, Gavin Lux singled, and despite Cody Bellinger’s season-long struggles, Doval turned to the slider too often and the 2019 NL MVP smashed a single to give Los Angeles a 2-1 lead.
Even with Max Scherzer storming in from the bullpen for the final outs on two days’ rest, the Giants had a chance to win when Kris Bryant reached on a Turner error at third. However, after LaMonte Wade Jr. struck out, Scherzer fanned Wilmer Flores to end it on a check swing.
Flores held up. That at-bat should’ve continued, but Gabe Morales botched the call and the ballgame was over. Whoopsie-daisies!
Now, it should be clear that Scherzer probably beats Flores in some way even if it’s called a ball and the count continues at 1-2. Hell, the Giants had chances to score earlier on to avoid this position. But it’s a damn shame to see a game like that end on a blown call. The Giants deserved better than to see their Cinderella season end like that.
As for the Dodgers, they’ll travel to Atlanta to face the Braves in the NLCS. They overcame a 3-1 series deficit to dispatch Atlanta last year, and this time, the NL East winners don’t have superstar Ronald Acuña Jr., who’s injured. Atlanta still has a solid offense, but it’s going to take quite the upset to avoid the Dodgers winning their fourth NL pennant in five years.
What’s on deck?
ALCS Game 1
Time: 8:07 pm EDT
Venue: Minute Maid Park
Aw, man. Now we have to move on from the delirium of the Dodgers/Giants NLDS to a thoroughly unenjoyable American League Championship Series matchup. It’s the Astros and Red Sox, otherwise known as the two teams that Yankees fans probably want to see fail above all others. The good news is that one of these nuisances will go home next week. The bad is that unless a meteor strikes, someone has to win, and the victor is going to have a terrific shot to win another championship.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora tabbed the struggling Sale for Game 1 in a bit of a surprising move considering that Nathan Eovaldi was available. Instead, the 2021 ace will start Game 2 and the old ace will take the opener. It’s a weird move, but hey, if Sale can recapture some of his control and steal a game in Houston, then Boston will be in terrific position to advance.
Of course, that’s no easy task because Valdez is no schmuck himself and the Astros’ offense is an absolute menace. They scored 31 runs in just 4 games in an absolute dismantling of the White Sox pitching staff. The top seven hitters in the lineup feature Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, and Kyle Tucker. Sheesh. If Boston wants to win this series, they’ll probably just have to out-slug Houston.
Anyway, go meteor and go National League. The NLCS begins tomorrow.