© Stan Szeto | 2021 Sep 4
The Dodgers and Giants have been neck-and-neck in just about every measure, and they’re once again deadlocked atop the NL West — both at 86-50. The Giants entered Saturday night 9-8 against LA on the year, outscoring the Dodgers 71-70. They exited 9-9, being down 76-72 in the aggregate.
SF’s 6-1 defeat confirms that neither club will be ahead of the other by more than a game come Monday morning when the dust of this rivalry weekend settles.
Just as the Dodgers’ held SF to three runs Friday night without a traditional starter, the Giants’ similar approach was similarly effective. It didn’t start that way, though. The Dodgers’ bullpen game limited SF to one run through nine innings, while LA knocked around opener Jay Jackson and Jarlin García for three first inning scores Saturday.
Jackson, making his first big league start, was rudely welcomed by second baseman Trea Turner. The former National unloaded on a 2-2 slider for a leadoff solo home run. Jackson only recorded one out before Jarlin García replaced him, inheriting runners on first and second.
García couldn’t handle the first inning mess Jackson left him. A Corey Seager sacrifice fly scored Betts after a perfectly executed double steal, then AJ Pollock doubled home Justin Turner with a rope into the left-center alley. Before the Giants even saw Dodgers starter Julio Urías for the first time, they trailed 3-0.
Kris Bryant and Evan Longoria singles before Buster Posey’s lined double into the right field corner cut into LA’s early lead. But San Francisco couldn’t replicate its first-inning spurt.
Though he couldn’t help SF escape in the first, García (2.2 IP, 2H, 0ER, 2K) held LA scoreless for two innings afterwards. José Álvarez worked a five-pitch 1-2-3 fourth, and Zack Littell worked a scoreless fifth.
LA used 11 pitchers in 11 innings in the series-opener. The Giants used eight Sunday, starting with Jackson and ending with Sammy Long (1IP, 1ER, 1H, 1BB)
But it wasn’t all roses for SF’s bullpen. Littell allowed a single to Justin Turner in the top of the sixth, and he advanced to second on an errant Mauricio Dubó throw. Dubón, playing short to give Brandon Crawford a day off, sailed his throw so high that first baseman Brandon Belt didn’t even attempt to keep it in play. Quintana replaced Littell, gave Turner third on a wild pitch, then balked to hand the Dodgers a run.
Still, four runs by the time the 50-50 split crowd sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in the middle of the seventh is a more than respectable outcome — especially against the Dodgers.
While SF’s band of pitchers kept the Giants in it, their hitters cooled. For most of the night, catcher Buster Posey was San Francisco’s only offense — a surprising development based on his recent play.
Posey’s body hasn’t been feeling right this deep in the season, despite the load management plan. While he’d never make excuses, the wear-and-tear of the season had started to get to the 34-year-old catcher. So much so that he made sure nobody got too handsy with him in Friday night’s dugout celebration.
The three-time World Series champion went 18 for his last 86 at-bats (.209), spanning all of August and the first three games of September, before Saturday night. He put up 0-fors against New York, twice against both Oakland and Milwaukee, and again Friday in the Dodgers opener. Posey’s batting average dipped from over .330 to below .300 for the first time since April 24.
Then he broke out Saturday for a 3-for-4 night. His first-inning double into the right field corner scored Kris Bryant — SF’s only run. He added a sharply hit single up the middle in the fourth and another in the sixth. LA right fielder Mookie Betts robbed his only out with a diving catch in the eighth on a ball that left his bat at 98.6 mph with an expected batting average of .600. He also flashed the leather.
But Posey was alone in his offensive effort. Leadoff man Darin Ruf went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Brandon Belt and Thairo Estrada both went hitless. Mike Yastrzemski struck out looking as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, continuing his cold spell.
San Francisco stranded runners on base in the first, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and ninth. Since the Giants’ 9-0 loss to Atlanta on Aug. 29 — the start of their four-game losing streak to close the month — they’re hitting 10-for-74 (.135) with runners in scoring position. That includes 1-for-8 in the five-run loss.
Despite the shortcomings, the Giants are still on a level plane with the Dodgers. And they still will be, at least for the moment, regardless of how the series finale Sunday plays out.