© John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
There was a very healthy dose of good, young pitching on Tuesday night at Oracle Park, and then madness. A 1-1 stalemate crept into the eighth inning, at which point the Los Angeles Dodgers fell apart in cataclysmic and hilarious fashion for a late 2-1 Giants win.
A pair of crafty leadoff walks from Buster Posey and Mike Yastrzemski off Blake Treinen spelt doom. But it was Cody Bellinger’s shining moment of ignominy which sealed the Giants’ fate.
Thanks to some brilliant baserunning by Yastrzemski on a chopper from Darin Ruf, the Dodgers found themselves in conflict as Posey rounded third. What happened next was pretty incredible from any perspective. To say Cody Bellinger airmailed his throw to third would be a gross understatement. The man threw the ball to Alameda.
This is not a thing that happens. But it did.
OH WOW pic.twitter.com/AM3kJqGL7B
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) July 28, 2021
Everything else is pretty much moot. This was the “Cody Bellinger threw a ball into outer space game.” But there were some other points of note.
Two 24-year-old pitchers squared off to similarly effective results. San Francisco’s Logan Webb probably had the more impressive night of the two, but he and Julio Urias combined for 11 2/3 innings and a tied, 1-1 game through six.
Urias, though, needed to be relieved after 5 2/3 and can thank an outstanding Cody Bellinger snag, and robbery of a would-be go-ahead single from Wilmer Flores, that he only allowed one earned run.
In that sixth, Urias was taken to left for a one-out double by Austin Slater, who was promptly driven home on an opposite-field single by Buster Posey which was welcomed at a roughly ear-splitting decibel.
After a fly out from Mike Yastrzemski, Flores looked like he’d notched the lead, if not for Bellinger’s 6’4″ frame, which he elevated to pick the ball out of the air.
And where Urias labored in the sixth, Webb didn’t. He kept an efficient pitch count of 80 through his six innings of three-hit, one-walk, five strikeout baseball, using a fair bit of variety on his three-pitch, sinker-slider-change mix.
It was a tale of wasted chances and gifted chances on either side after the starters departed.
The Giants were gifted back-to-back baserunners as Dodgers reliever Jimmy Nelson temporarily lost the plot, plunking both Donovan Solano and Thairo Estrada. He looked all sorts of disgruntled on the mound after having drawn an inning-opening strikeout from LaMonte Wade Jr.
And then a deja vu happened, as both Alex Dickerson, pinch-hitting for the pitcher, and Steven Duggar, pinch-hitting for Austin Slater, hit near-identical bloop outs to short. Both, for the briefest of moments, seemed like they were destined to snatch the lead for the Giants before immediately realizing their bloopy destinies.
Dickerson’s came off the end of his bat at a whopping 57.8 miles per hour, temporarily freezing Donovan Solano at second, who scuttled back safely before Chris Taylor poached it. Duggar’s took a chunk out of his bat, coming off at 62.8 miles per hour before tumbling back down for an inning-ending catch at short.
The Dodgers had their own wasted chances, too. In the top half of the eighth, they managed to waste a leadoff single, followed two batters later by a Chris Taylor double.
Then Max Muncy, the bane of the Giants’ existence, seemed destined to come in and ruin their night, only to chop a ball to first. Dodgers left fielder Luke Raley must have been on orders to run on contact to the infield, because he went without hesitation, and Darin Ruf had little trouble throwing him out at the plate. And Justin Turner, who had been 4-for-5 against Tyler Rodgers before that at-bat, flew out to Yastrzemski to end the inning, and the Dodgers’ last best chance.
Bellinger’s madness followed, and Jake McGee came through in the ninth for a 1-2-3 inning to seal the series-opening win. San Francisco (63-37) now leads Los Angeles (61-41) by three games in the NL West.