2021 National League Division Series 1
|2021 National League Division Series|
|Los Angeles Dodgers
106 - 56 in the NL
|3 - 2
|San Francisco Giants|
107 - 55 in the NL
|1||Los Angeles Dodgers 0 San Francisco Giants 4||October 8||Walker Buehler (0-1) Logan Webb (1-0)||9:35 pm|
|2||Los Angeles Dodgers 9 San Francisco Giants 2||October 9||Julio Urias (1-0) Kevin Gausman (0-1)||9:05 pm|
|3||San Francisco Giants 1 Los Angeles Dodgers 0||October 11||Alex Wood (0-0) Max Scherzer (0-0)||9:35 pm|
|4||San Francisco Giants 2 Los Angeles Dodgers 7||October 12||Anthony DeSclafani (0-1) Walker Buehler (0-1)||9:07 pm|
|5||Los Angeles Dodgers 2 San Francisco Giants 1||October 14||Corey Knebel (0-0) Logan Webb (1-0)||9:05 pm|
Game 1 @ Oracle Park
|WP: Logan Webb (1-0); LP: Walker Buehler (0-1)|
|Home Runs: SF - Buster Posey (1), Kris Bryant (1), Brandon Crawford (1)|
- Attendance: 41,934
The story of Game 1 was that of Logan Webb and a few long balls. Webb had emerged as an unlikely ace for an unlikely powerhouse team this season, going 11-3 and winning his last 8 decisions. It was a toss-up between him and Kevin Gausman as to who would start the opening game, and Gabe Kapler picked right, as his man gave him 7 2/3 excellent innings, allowing just 5 hits, walking none, and striking out 10. Webb's opponent was no slouch, as Walker Buehler had been one of the National League's top hurlers, going 16-4, but on this day he made one key mistake that cost him the game. It came in the 1st inning, after the Dodgers had stranded a baserunner in the top of the frame. Lead-off hitter Tommy La Stella drew a walk, then after two outs, Buster Posey, the only player remaining from San Francisco's three World Series titles at the start of the previous decade, took Buehler deep on a fly ball that cleared the right field bleachers and splashed down into McCovey's Cove. That gave the Giants a 2-0 lead, and it was all the runs they would need.
The other big highlight of the game came in the top of the 4th inning, after Corey Seager had reached on a fielding error by Webb. With one out, Justin Turner hit a ball towards second base that La Stella, shifted to the third base side of the bag, still managed to stop and flip in one backward motion to SS Brandon Crawford, who in turn relayed to first baseman Wilmer Flores to complete a double play that made all the highlight reels. Apart from that, both teams got a few runners on base, but there was no serious threat as both starting pitchers were dominant. Both Seager and Will Smith managed to hit doubles off Webb, in the 6th and 7th respectively, but neither advanced any further as Webb completed both innings by getting the remaining outs on strikeouts.
In the bottom of the 7th, Buehler was still in the game when he gave up a lead-off homer to Kris Bryant, and things looked really bleak for the boys in blue. Buehler gave way to Brusdar Graterol after one more batter and Webb was doing so well that he came to bat with two outs and the bases empty, striking out to end the inning. He had two more outs left in him, but after a single by Mookie Betts, he was replaced by Tyler Rogers, who got Seager to ground out to end the inning. Crawford then drove the final nail in the Dodgers' coffin with the Giants' third long ball of the game, another solo shot, this one off Alex Vesia with two outs. With a four-run lead, Kapler removed Rogers in favor of Camilo Doval, keeping his closer fresh for possible use in a key situation in a future game. Doval did the job, retiring the Dodgers in order and completing the combined shutout.
Game 2 @ Oracle Park
|WP: Julio Urias (1-0); LP: Kevin Gausman (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Will Smith (1)|
- Attendance: 42,275
After having been shut out in Game 1, the Dodgers' bats woke up today, scoring a total of 9 runs with just about everyone contributing something. Dave Roberts shuffled his line-up before the game, putting in the Wild Card Game hero, Chris Taylor, in center field, and moving Cody Bellinger to first base. The Giants also shifted their line-up with a lefthander on the mound, putting in a couple of extra right-handed bats with Darin Ruf and Austin Slater at the top of the line-up. It was another strong pitching match-up on paper, with the Giants starting an All-Star in Kevin Gausman, and the Dodgers sending 20-game winner Julio Urias, who had managed the feat almost completely under the radar as part of a pitching staff full of bigger names.
The 1st inning was scoreless, but things got going for both teams in the 2nd. Taylor hit a one-out double for Los Angeles, and after Gausman struck out Bellinger, Gabe Kapler decided to issue an intentional walk to A.J. Pollock after Gausman fell behind in the count. He must have thought that Urias would be an easy mark, but he was wrong as the young pitcher, looking very much like a real hitter, lined a pitch into right field to score Taylor with Pollock taking third. Mookie Betts followed with another single, and it was 2-0. The Giants replied quickly, though, as Wilmer Flores drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the inning, then moved to second on a single by Brandon Crawford. Flores advanced to third on a fly out by Evan Longoria and Donovan Solano hit another fly to relatively shallow right center, but Taylor was running towards the right field line when he caught it and couldn't get much on his throw, allowing Flores to score on the sacrifice fly. That 2-1 score would now hold for a while as both pitchers settled down.
Buster Posey did lead off the 4th with a double for San Francisco, but he could advance no further as the next three batters flied out. However, the game changed completely in the 6th. Trea Turner led off with a double and Will Smith drew a one-out walk. That's when Kapler decided to pull Gausman in favor of Dominic Leone, a move that simply put did not work any better than the intentional pass to Pollock in the 2nd. Leone walked Taylor to load the bases and Bellinger followed with a double to center, bringing in two runs. Pollock was up next, and he hit another double, bringing in two more runs to increase the lead to 6-1. At this point, Roberts made another decision that could have ended badly, as he sent Gavin Lux as a pinch-hitter for Urias, removing his starting pitcher from the game after five solid innings and only 72 pitches. Both Lux and Betts made an out to end the inning, negating the move, but the Dodgers were now in control of the game. The Giants made a feeble response in the bottom of the inning against Joe Kelly, the Dodgers' first reliever, on a one-out walk to pinch-hitter LaMonte Wade, a single by Posey, a force out by Flores and a single by Crawford. However, any hopes of this turning into a bigger inning were dashed when Flores was thrown out at third base on a bullet by RF Betts. A poor throw would likely have led to a completely different end of the inning, as Kelly was on his way out.
In any case, the Giants did not really stir after that, while the Dodgers put the game completely out of reach with a three-run outburst in the 8th. Smith led off the frame with a solo homer against Zack Littell, Taylor and Pollock hit singles around a strikeout of Bellinger, then pinch-hitter Matt Beaty, in the pitcher's spot, singled as well to drive in a run. With two outs, Jarlin Garcia replaced Littell, but he allowed another single to Seager that made it 9-2, which would be the final score. Following Kelly's shaky inning, Corey Knebel, Brusdar Graterol and Phil Bickford each pitched an inning to complete the game for the Dodgers, with only Bickford giving up a hit, a single. The series was now tied.
Game 3 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Tyler Rogers (1-0); LP: Max Scherzer (0-1); SV: Camilo Doval (1)|
|Home Runs: SF - Evan Longoria (1)|
- Attendance: 53,299
Game 3 was a true battle of pitchers, as there were only eight hits and one run all game, with only one of the hits going for extra bases. That long hit, a homer by Evan Longoria in the 5th, proved to be the difference as San Francisco won, 1-0, to take a two games to one lead. On the mound, Alex Wood, a former Dodger, was facing Max Scherzer, still unbeaten as a member of the Dodgers after having been acquired at the trading deadline. Wood had something to prove against his former team, as he had been one of the pitchers too often left on the sidelines during L.A.'s recent run of postseason appearances.
The Giants actually managed to place two men on base against Scherzer in the 1st, on a lead-off walk to Tommy La Stella and a single by Buster Posey with one out, but both Brandon Crawford and Kris Bryant went down swinging and that was that. For his part, Wood started off with a perfect inning, and there was little more action until the bottom of the 3rd, when Albert Pujols, starting at first base for the first time this postseason, led off with a single, took second on Scherzer's sacrifice bunt that represented the second out, and advanced to third on a passed ball by Posey. But Wood got Mookie Betts to pop up to second base on a full count and Pujols was stranded. Wood also issued a couple of walks in the 4th, but he got A.J. Pollock to ground into a force out to end the inning with no damage.
The only run of the game came when Longoria led off the top of the 5th with a homer to center field on a two-strike count. It was Scherzer's only mistake of the evening, and on a normal day would have been but a side note, but not tonight as his teammates were unable to give him any run support. He retired the next three batters, and then the Dodgers had another chance. Pujols singled again and Dave Roberts, knowing more than anyone how precious a good pinch-runner can be, replaced the lumbering 40-something slugger with the more nimble Billy McKinney. However, he had no opportunity to show off his speed as Will Smith flied out to right and Scherzer struck out when he was unable to lay down another bunt. Now about to face the Dodgers' line-up for the third time - the new Rubicon not to be crossed - Wood was replaced by Tyler Rogers, who got Betts to ground out to first base. There was little action until the 7th, as Scherzer was still excellent and Rogers did not give up anything until pinch-hitter Steven Souza, batting for McKinney, singled with one out. Smith followed with another single, and Austin Barnes was called to bat for Scherzer, who really deserved better than to be down by one run and in line to be charged with a loss. Jake McGee replaced Rogers on the mound and struck out Barnes for the second out and got Betts to fly out, the third straight time Mookie had failed with a runner on base.
The rest of the game was completely dominated by the relievers, first Blake Treinen and then Kenley Jansen for L.A., and rookie Camilo Doval for San Francisco. Twelve men came to bat in these last two innings, and all twelve made outs, five of them on strikes. The game ended with Doval getting pinch-hitter Gavin Lux, batting for Jansen, to fly out to center as he picked up the save. Lux thought he had hit the ball well enough to drive it out of the park, but it went to the deepest part of the ballpark, and the unusually strong wind was blowing towards the field, also impeding its flight. Statcast showed that the ball would have been a homer in almost every other ballpark.
Game 4 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Joe Kelly (1-0); LP: Anthony DeSclafani (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Mookie Betts (1), Will Smith (2)|
- Attendance: 52,935
The Dodgers forced a fifth game by winning Game 4 handily, by a score of 7-2. The Dodgers started Walker Buehler again, the first time in his career that he was starting on short rest, while the Giants, who had more margin for error, decided to go with their fourth starter, Anthony DeSclafani, and keep Logan Webb for a possible deciding game. Buehler did not make it through five innings, but his team was firmly in command when he left, so it was mission accomplished, whereas DeSclafani failed to even complete the 2nd inning as the Dodgers scored early and often. Dave Roberts made some more changes to his line-up, given its problems scoring runs since the start of the postseason, with Cody Bellinger at first base, Gavin Lux in center field, and Chris Taylor in left. Finally, he found a line-up that clicked.
Buehler had a perfect 1st inning, but DeSclafani struggled from the get-go. Corey Seager singled with one out and Trea Turner followed with a double for a quick 1-0 lead. The Giants got a couple of singles off Buehler after one out in the 2nd, but were unable to do anything with them, and the Dodgers tacked on another run. Lux and Bellinger opened the inning with singles and Taylor hit a sacrifice fly. After Buehler struck out, Mookie Betts singled as well, and that was it for DeSclafani, who gave way to Jose Alvarez, who got the final out. In the 3rd, Buehler mowed down the Giants in order again, and L.A. almost put the game away in the bottom of the inning. With rookie Kervin Castro now pitching, Will Smith and Justin Turner drew back-to-back walks, as all of Castro's pitches were systematically a couple of inches outside. Gabe Kapler did not wait to intervene, immediately calling on Jarlin Garcia, already his fourth pitcher, and he completed what Castro had started by walking Lux to load the bases. But, with the infield playing in, Garcia got Bellinger to hit a grounder to 1B Darin Ruf who threw home for the second out, and Taylor crushed a pitch into left field, but LaMonte Wade caught it on a full run to save three runs. The Giants had escaped, but the game was already a one-way affair.
In the 4th, Kris Bryant managed to draw a two-out walk from Buehler, but that was it, and the Dodgers went back to pounding the ball. Buehler reached base on an error by Garcia, who then made things worse by surrendering a homer to Betts. It was now 4-0, and Dominic Leone, pitcher number five, had to be summoned to finish the inning. Buehler allowed two of the first three batters in the 5th to reach, and Roberts replaced him with Joe Kelly. The Giants did score a run on a single and a ground out, but would have needed to do more with this opportunity to get back into this game, especially as L.A. was not done scoring, the next run coming off Tyler Rogers on a bases-loaded sac fly by Betts. With a 5-1 run lead, the rest of the game was for the record only. The Giants scored a second run in the top of the 8th on a double by Brandon Crawford and a pair of ground outs, but the Dodgers replied immediately with two more runs, both coming on a homer by Will Smith off Zack Littell. That was the final score, 7-2, as the Giants used 8 different pitchers to get through the game, in order not to over-exert anyone. For their part, the Dodgers used six, keeping their big guns rested, although Brusdar Graterol showed some nasty stuff, hitting 102 mph with a couple of pitches, including one that was a slider, which is about as unhittable as it gets.
Game 5 @ Oracle Park
|WP: Kenley Jansen (1-0); LP: Camilo Doval (0-1); SV: Max Scherzer (1)|
|Home Runs: SF - Darin Ruf (1)|
- Attendance: 42,275
The series was always going to go the distance, with two such evenly matched teams battling it out. And not only did it take a Game 5 to determine a winner, but it took until the 9th inning of said game to do so. The Dodgers tried to play a bit of a ploy with their starting pitcher, scratching scheduled starter Julio Urias at the last minute and instead using short reliever Corey Knebel as an opener, with Urias expected to come in at some point as a "bulk man". There was a bit of a platoon advantage to be gained, given the Giants tended to shape their batting order based on the handedness of the starting pitcher, and indeed they did make a couple of early substitutions as a result of the stratagem, but really, was it worth it to shorten the outing of one of the best starting pitchers in the majors for that minute gain? If a team is going to use an opener when it has Julio Urias ready and rested to start a game, where is baseball going? And since the Dodgers won the game, it is certain that many persons will draw the wrong conclusion from this move, namely that the strategy worked, instead of considering that the Dodgers had shot themselves in the foot from the start, and were lucky to overcome the ensuing self-inflicted handicap. There was no such cuteness from the Giants: their ace Logan Webb started the game, with the mission of going as long as possible.
As expected, the game was a low-scoring one again and the first innings were devoid of runs. Webb started out very strong, facing the minimum nine batters in the first three innings, thanks to a double play ground ball by Trea Turner to end the 1st. The Dodgers' opener, Knebel, did his job although Darin Ruf hit a long fly ball to right field for an out, and Buster Posey followed with an even longer drive to the same spot, this one banging against the wall for a double. However, Brandon Crawford struck out on a full count, and Knebel left the game, his work done. Brusdar Graterol followed in the 2nd and he gave up a couple of singles before getting Evan Longoria to pop out and striking out Webb. Urias finally came out in the 3rd and he started off with a 1-2-3 inning, but as a result of his unfamiliar usage, he would end up pitching just 4 innings instead of his usual 6 or 7, and the Dodgers had used two impact relievers in the early going, making them unavailable if there were more crucial situations later down the road. So, what was gained exactly? The net result was that Gabe Kapler removed two of his starting position players early, 2B Tommy La Stella and RF Mike Yastrzemski, replacing them with Donovan Solano and Austin Slater - equivalent players, basically. In any case, there was no scoring in the 4th or 5th innings either, although in the 4th the Dodgers placed two men on base with a lead-off single by Mookie Betts and a two-out walk to Will Smith, but weren't able to score as their three other batters failed to get the ball out of the infield. The Giants managed to get Crawford all the way to third base with two outs in the bottom of that inning, on a single, a wild pitch and a ground out, but Wilmer Flores popped out to end the inning, then five of the six batters to come up in the 5th struck out and the other one grounded back to the pitcher.
That brilliant pitchers' duel ended in the 6th, when both teams scored one run each. First, for the Dodgers, Betts hit another single - his third of the game - with one out. He then stole second base and Corey Seager followed with a double to drive him in. The lead hardly lasted, however, as Ruf homered on a full count to lead off the bottom the 6th. Webb pitched another 1-2-3 inning in the 7th, completing his day's work with 1 run on 4 hits and a walk with 7 strikeouts. The Giants could hardly have asked for more. Urias left before the 7th, with his work day being 4 innings, with also 1 run, on just 3 hits, and 5 strikeouts. He was succeeded by Blake Treinen, who retired the Giants in order, including pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson, batting for Webb, who struck out swinging. On to the 8th, with Tyler Rogers getting the ball but giving up a pair of singles to pinch-hitter A.J. Pollock and to Betts after one out. Rogers struck out Seager for the second out, but was then replaced by rookie closer Camilo Doval, who got Trea Turner to fly out to end the inning. Dave Roberts now brought out his own closer, Kenley Jansen, to pitch, having already used three trusted middle relievers to get to this point. Jansen retired the Giants in order, so the two teams were still tied at one heading into the 9th.
Doval was back on the mound for San Francisco in the 9th, having thrown just one pitch the previous inning. He got Smith to ground out for the first out, but then he hit Justin Turner with a pitch. Next up was Gavin Lux, who singled, with Turner stopping at second, and Cody Bellinger, who singled as well, with Turner racing home this time, and Lux advancing to third. There was still just one out, and Kapler called on his other ace starter, Kevin Gausman, to stop the bleeding. Chris Taylor attempted a bunt down the first base line, but was out, with Lux holding his base. It was now Jansen's turn to bat, and Roberts sent in Matt Beaty to hit for him. Bellinger stole second base, but Beaty grounded out to first, and the Dodgers were unable to add an insurance run. A new pitcher would now need to protect that one-run lead for the final three outs, and Roberts decided to go with starter Max Scherzer instead of someone with more experience pitching in relief (for example Joe Kelly or Phil Bickford). Scherzer got Crawford to line out to start the inning, but Kris Bryant then reached on an error by Justin Turner at third base. LaMonte Wade pinch-hit for Slater but struck out, as did Flores who was called out on appeal on a checked swing. The Giants claimed he had not gone around, which replays confirmed, but in vain. It was the first save of Scherzer's career, and the Giants' great season was over, with the Dodgers were moving on to the NLCS, where they would face the Atlanta Braves in a repeat of last year's Championship Series.
- Jorge Castillo (Los Angeles Times): "Battle-tested Dodgers show once again that experience matters in October", Yahoo! Sports, October 15, 2021. 
- Mike DiGiovanna (Los Angeles Times): "Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants: Everything you need to know about the NLDS", Yahoo! Sports, October 7, 2021. 
- Mike DiGiovanna (Los Angeles Times): "Nine reasons the Dodgers should be concerned about the Giants in the NLDS", Yahoo! Sports, October 7, 2021. 
- Jeff Eisenberg: "A California dream series: Giants-Dodgers rivalry comes to the playoffs with epic stakes", Yahoo! Sports, October 7, 2021. 
- Maria Guardado: "Magical Giants season sees crushing end", mlb.com, October 15, 2021. 
- Matt Kelly: "History of Dodgers-Giants elimination games: NLDS Game 5 marks rivalry's third 'win-or-go-home' showdown", mlb.com, October 13, 2021. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Dodgers beat rival Giants in winner-take-all Game 5 NLDS thriller to advance to NLCS", USA Today, October 15, 2021. 
- Juan Toribio: "Dodgers finally overtake Giants, reach NLCS", mlb.com, October 15, 2021. 
|Major League Baseball National League Division Series