If the Dodgers and Giants were just a glimpse of a possible playoff series, an October clash between these rivals could be one for the ages.
“I can imagine this would be the most intense playoff series I’ve ever been on,” said San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt.
The September showdown wasn’t bad either.
Steven Duggar hit a two-run triple after being called up earlier in the day, Belt hit a homerun and the Giants wrapped up a key weekend streak against Los Angeles with a 6-4 win on Sunday to regain a narrow lead over NL West.
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San Francisco did it with a second straight game in the bullpen, and did it while watching Albert Pujols pitch another home run at 41.
“It’s not a sag, up and down the lineup, the bullpen,” Duggar said. “Just take care of our preparation and each guy pulls his weight. It’s just a lot of fun, it’s a lot of fun to come out on the pitch and buckle up and go play.”
Pujols hit the # 678 career homer with a nip and two runs in the ninth against Giants’ closest Jake McGee, who allowed only one of Max Muncy to come out later and then took Mookie Betts out on a third strike called. The last out was replayed and was confirmed after right fielder Mike Yastrzemski caught Justin Turner’s fly on the net in foul territory.
“We lost a series, we were beaten and we could have done things differently, which obviously could have made a difference in the series,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “We have to find a way to quickly turn the page and we have a game to win tomorrow.”
Brandon Crawford netted an RBI brace and Darin Ruf scored a run in the second as San Francisco defeated Walker Buehler (13-3) for the first time. He had gone 7-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his first 12 outings and 10 starts against the Giants. The right-hander had not allowed more than five points since giving Colorado six on Sept. 2, 2019.
“The worst I have launched in a long time,” he said.
The Giants scored Buehler for six runs, a season-high, on seven hits in three innings in the rivals’ final regular-season game. San Francisco (87-50) now holds a one-game lead in the division and has any tiebreakers – such as home court advantage if there is a playoff game if they finish with the same record – with the defending World Series champions (86-50). 51) after winning the 10-9 season series.
And here’s how well those clubs performed in 2021: The Dodgers outscored the Giants 80-78.
Dominic Leone pitched a perfect inning in the first start of his career in a second straight reliever box game for San Francisco after the Dodgers relied on relievers in Game 1 of the series on Friday night when David Price failed. couldn’t go.
José Álvarez came in for second and gave up Will Smith’s RBI single before winner Zack Littell (2-0) was relieved and struck out two.
“The back-to-back bullpen days are tough,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s no secret. Kind of a characteristic of this team is being able to handle difficult situations and being good at handling difficult situations.”
San Francisco avoided losing three straight series for the first time this entire season.
“It was really like a playoff atmosphere there,” Belt said, “… This is the critical moment.”
PUJOLS RETURNS TO ST. LOUIS
Pujols returns to Busch Stadium with a bit of nostalgia again in St. Louis, which he called home for his first 11 major league seasons from 2001 to 2011.
The 41-year-old slugger insists “I don’t think about it”, in order to avoid any potential distraction with so much fanfare.
Still, the trip makes a lot of sense – even though he returned to Busch Stadium in 2019 with the Angels. By not placing extra expectations on himself, Pujols said it was a way to avoid disappointment “if it doesn’t turn out the way you thought”.
“It was special in 2019 when I first went there and it’s going to be special when we go tomorrow for the week,” Pujols said. “I always try to let these things play out as they are going to play out. I just don’t like to distract myself. I just try to prepare for the game and the things I need to do.”
Pujols is expected to play Tuesday and Thursday.
Dodgers: OF AJ Pollock has been placed on the 10-day injury list with right hamstring strain, although he “felt a lot better today,” Roberts said after Saturday night’s injury. Pollock is expected to miss two to three weeks. “In a few weeks, that’s probably where we are,” said Roberts. “I always see him coming back this season at some point.” … LHP Clayton Kershaw, out since July 7 with a flaming pitcher’s elbow, threw a good reliever box using all of his throws and is on schedule to begin rehab Tuesday for the Oklahoma City Triple-A . … LHP Danny Duffy, on the 60-day IL with flexor strain in his pitcher’s elbow, will continue to play wrestling for the next few days before he is scheduled for a mock match.
Giants: OF Austin Slater was placed on the seven-day IL with a concussion suffered Saturday night. He was injured when he crashed into the center field wall in the first inning on Saturday night trying to chase Trea Turner’s home run. … INF Donovan Solano was expected at the stadium after returning from New York, where he self-quarantined following a positive test for COVID-19.
Los Angeles recalled RHP Mitch White for his eighth big-league stint of the year, having recently pitched at Class A Rancho Cucamonga and also with Oklahoma City.
The Giants called OF Duggar and RHP Camilo Doval from Triple-A Sacramento and opted for LHP Sammy Long in Sacramento.
RHP Max Scherzer (12-4, 2.40 ERA), whose right hamstring tightened on his last outing, takes the mound for Labor Day morning in St. Louis.
RHP Kevin Gausman (12-5, 2.52) takes the mound for the Giants in the series opener at Colorado on Monday, after three consecutive absences but with wins in his last three decisions.