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In a rivalry such as this that dates back 131 years, it is almost unbelievable that this was the first postseason meeting between these two teams. In the end, an embarrassingly bad strike three check swing call ended this back-and-forth battle in Los Angeles’ favor, with the Dodgers moving on to the NLCS while the Giants will move on to their offseason.
But this series should not be defined by a terrible call in a split-second that concluded a game few of us were ready to see end. Both of these teams deserve more credit than that.
As we discussed on the PHNX D-backs Podcast, the Dodgers and the Giants ran such a close race this season that the NL West was decided by a single game after 162 were played. With the Dodgers winning the additional Wild Card game, both teams came into the series finale on Thursday tied at 109 wins total.
The regular-season series was won by the Giants 10-9, with the Dodgers eventually taking the playoffs 3-2. These teams actually ended up splitting their 24 games played against each other this year, 12-12.
This was the best rivalry in baseball this season, and we got to see it play out in the best playoff series in years.
Two of their five games were decided by a single run. In the end, Los Angeles outscored San Francisco 18-10, owning the two most lop-sided victories.
Both teams saw gems thrown by starting pitchers ruined by their opposition. Giants starter Logan Webb was lights out in the Game 5 finale and ended up with a no decision after allowing just one earned run on four hits in seven innings pitched.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because Max Scherzer did it three days earlier in Game 3 when he pitched seven innings, allowing one earned run on three hits with 10 strikeouts in a loss.
The managing between Dave Roberts and Gabe Kapler turned into a chess match by the conclusion of their playoff series, with Roberts pulling out all the stops to advance in the final game. This included going with relief pitcher Corey Knebel as the game’s starter instead of Julio Urias as planned in order to force Kapler to alter his lineup.
Roberts also made the move to use his closer Kenley Jansen in the eighth and go to one of the best pitchers in baseball in Scherzer for his first career save.
Putting personal feelings aside about these two NL rivals, this was an all-time classic.
Yes, the check swing strikeout by former D-back Wilmer Flores did sour the ending of what could be considered one of the greatest division series in MLB history.
Perhaps we were robbed of a storybook ending for the Giants where Flores, who is 0-for-17 against Scherzer, became an unlikely hero with a 2-run walk-off homer into McCovey Cove that would never have been forgotten.
It was highly unlikely, but anything can happen with a single swing of the bat in this game.
Baseball still has plenty to correct if they want to avoid controversial endings to critical games such as this, but it also doesn’t mean that a bad call by first base umpire Gabe Morales should overshadow the performances and the efforts by these two clubs.