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Dodgers vs. Giants score: Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford and bullpen give San Francisco NLDS lead

Written by on October 12, 2021

The 107-win San Francisco Giants are one win away from the National League Championship Series and the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers are one loss away from going home for the winter. Monday night the Giants eked out a thrilling 1-0 win (box score) at Dodger Stadium to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

Evan Longoria’s fifth-inning solo home run provided the game’s only run and the San Francisco bullpen stood tall, as three relievers kept the Dodgers off the scoreboard for the final 4 1/3 innings. Rookie closer Camilo Doval recorded the six-out save to nail down the win after Brandon Crawford made a crucial, game-saving leaping catch in the seventh.

Here are five takeaways from Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.

1. Longoria finally got a hit

The Giants had the best record in baseball this season thanks largely to their veteran players, many of whom turned back the clock and had 95th percentile outcome seasons. Among them: Evan Longoria. Longoria authored a .261/.351/.482 batting line around a shoulder injury this year, his best on-base percentage since 2012 and his best slugging percentage since 2016.

Longoria did limp to the finish, however. He went 5 for 47 (.106) in his final 14 regular season games and 0 for 7 in the first two games of the NLDS before getting off the schneid in Game 3 on Monday. Longoria drove in the game’s only run with a fifth-inning solo home run against Max Scherzer. He turned on a heater and drove it out to left-center.

It was very windy at Dodger Stadium on Monday and a lot of fly balls looked good off the bat, only to make outfielders retreat back in after running to the warming track. Longoria had to hit that ball really well to cut through the wind. The home run was the 10th of Longoria’s postseason career and his first since 2012, when he was still with the Rays.

Since the start of 2019, teams that out-homer their opponents in the postseason are 74-11. Home runs will get you to heaven.

2. Scherzer’s adjustment paid off


Going into Game 4, Scherzer’s previous three starts weren’t particularly impressive. The future Hall of Famer allowed 12 runs in 14 2/3 innings in those three starts, his final two regular season starts and the NL Wild Card Game. His command in particular was not at its best. Over the weekend Scherzer said he identified a mechanical issue with his lower half between starts.

“I thought we identified something on the lower half I can kind of grab on to. I threw a bullpen with it, felt pretty good,” he said. “There’s times where you get a little out of sync, and that happens. It’s about grinding through it, figuring out what it is, grab onto something and find something that works for you. Get your mechanics locked back in and find a rhythm. Once you can find that rhythm, then everything flows.”

Scherzer’s adjustment paid off. After stumbling a bit in the first inning, Scherzer settled down and retired 10 consecutive batters, including seven via strikeout. He finished the night with just one run allowed — Longoria’s homer — and 10 strikeouts in seven innings, becoming the first pitcher in history with double-digit strikeout games in the postseason with three different franchises (Tigers, Nationals, Dodgers). An excellent outing, through and through.

The Game 3 loss is the Dodgers’ first with Scherzer on the mound. They’d been a perfect 12-0 (11-0 in the regular season plus the NL Wild Card Game) in his starts prior to Monday.

3. Crawford saved the game

The Moment of Truth™ arrived in the seventh inning. Tyler Rogers, who threw a season high 29 pitches in Game 3, allowed two singles to put the tying run in scoring position with one out. Giants manager Gabe Kapler went to lefty Jake McGee, who struck out pinch-hitter Austin Barnes, then got some help from Crawford at short to retire Mookie Betts. To the action footage:

Statcast says similar batted balls (based on exit velocity and launch angle and all that) go for a hit 87 percent of the time. Shortstop is typically a young man’s position, but the 34-year-old Crawford plays it like someone 10 years younger. Just an incredible play — a game-saver, truly — at a crucial moment.

Gavin Lux gave the ball a ride for the final out of the ballgame, though the wind knocked it down and Steven Duggar caught the 27th out on the warning track. Statcast says batted balls similar to that one go for a hit 89 percent of the time. Just a brutal night of great contact finding gloves for Los Angeles.

Rogers (five outs), McGee (two outs), and Doval (six outs) followed an effective Alex Wood with near spotless relief work. With Crawford’s help, of course. Doval’s two-inning save is San Francisco’s first multi-inning postseason save since Madison Bumgarner‘s epic five-inning save in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series.

Kapler expertly threaded the needle with his bullpen, getting his top two relievers (Rogers and Doval) on the mound against the middle of the Dodgers lineup with a one-run lead. A masterclass in postseason bullpen management.

4. Pujols had two hits

Albert Pujols was in the starting lineup in a postseason game for the first time since 2014 on Monday night, and in the process he became the oldest player in Dodgers history to start a postseason game. He’s also the oldest player to start a postseason game at a position other than DH since Julio Franco started at first base for the Braves in Game 1 of the 2005 NLDS. He was 47.

Pujols was in the lineup because he mashed lefties all season (.294/.336/.603) and because the Giants started southpaw Alex Wood. Sure enough, Pujols went 2 for 2 with two singles before being lifted for a pinch-runner. Franco (five times) and Pete Rose (four times) are the only players in history older than Pujols with multiple hits in a postseason game. The two hits in Game 3 were career postseason hits No. 91 and 92 for Pujols.

5. The Giants are in driver’s seat

Historically, teams that win Game 3 when a best-of-five series is tied 1-1 have gone on to win the series 72 percent of the time. The odds clearly favor the Giants at this point, though the final win is always the hardest to get. San Francisco will try to clinch Tuesday night in Game 4. Either the defending World Series champion Dodgers win their next two games, or they’re going home for the winter, and the 1998-2000 Yankees will remain MLB‘s last repeat champion.


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