Dodgers Look to Even Series vs. Giants tonight on the Left Arm of Julio Urias
A win tonight ties the series at 1-1. A loss puts the Dodgers in a 2-0 hole. Here comes the biggest game of the year.
There was a reason I led off yesterday’s post with a photo of Logan Webb, and made his ability to hang in with Walker Buehler the number one key to the Giants winning this series. Well, Webb more than hung with Buehler. He absolutely dominated the Dodgers over seven-plus innings, shutting them out and fanning ten. The Giants showed the world who they are last night, hitting four home runs, making a couple of stellar defensive plays, and shutting down the opposing team’s offense with a bunch of pitchers that casual fans have never heard of.
The Dodgers? Well, the Dodgers stunk. Walker Buehler made the bizarre decision to throw Buster Posey a 3-0 pipe shot down the middle with first base open in the first inning even though he just told Jeff Passan that he likes to walk guys in the playoffs when he’s behind in a count rather than give up a home run. He also gave up a solo shot to Kris Bryant. You can’t blame Buehler for this loss, however. He allowed three earned runs and pitched into the seventh inning, a playoff start that any of the four American League teams that played yesterday would have killed for. Logan Webb was just better. The Dodgers didn’t hit. It’s not possible to win a baseball game without scoring a run.
I’m not gonna lie. The Dodgers offense disappearing against a pitcher like Webb is concerning, especially because the Giants are going to throw two more righties in short order and they apparently already know what to throw Dodger hitters. I can’t think of any earthly reason why a Giant pitcher will throw sliders to AJ Pollock or Cody Bellinger anywhere near the strike zone, for instance, when they can’t stop swinging at pitches that miss by ten feet.
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The Dodgers can win this series. Momentum is only as potent as that day’s starting pitcher. I would take Julio Urías over Kevin Gausman in a must-win game 11 times out of 10. But the Dodgers have to score some runs though or even a no-hitter from Urías won’t matter.
What would I do with the lineup? Glad you asked! I would go back in time and re-sign Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez, both of whom homered yesterday for their new teams. But since Pederson isn’t walking through that door to play first base in Max Muncy’s absence today, I’d move Bellinger there, start Chris Taylor in center, and give AJ Pollock one more shot in left before replacing him with Gavin Lux. Pollock doesn’t like to walk but he’s going to have to figure out how to let those bad sliders go or else he’ll be an easy out like he was during the division series against the Nationals in 2019. The Dodgers can’t afford to have any more automatic outs while Bellinger scuffles and National League pitchers have to hit again this year. Though the way Urías can swing it he might be more of a threat than the two guys who hit ahead of him in the lineup tonight.
If the Dodgers can win today they not only tie up the series but they also snatch home field advantage. If they lose they are as good as out. Very few experts picked the Giants to win this series. I’ve been watching them all year. They are too good to be beat three games in a row. If Urías can keep them in it, the Dodger bats have to wake up at some point, right? Right??
Twitter was a mess last night with Dodger fans acting like they lost the World Series and Giants fans acting like they won it. While this series is undeniably big, I think it’s important to keep some perspective here. If the Giants win this series it does not negate the Dodgers winning the World Series last year. If the Dodgers win this series it does not nullify the Giants winning three from 2010-2014. Every team every year is different. This may seem obvious but the highs and lows were so insane last night that I was telling people to calm down. (You know it’s bad when *I’m* asking people to calm down.) Also, these teams are so full of veterans with playoff experience that I think we can do away with the narrative that whoever loses did so because they choked. Whoever loses will do so because the other team is better, period. These two teams are so evenly matched it’ll probably come down to one bloop hit or one passed ball or one home run off the foul pole.
I can’t wait.
We’ll be chatting again tonight starting at 5:30. Anyone can join the chat. So far both chats have been inclusive and respectful. Tell your friends! We’re trying to build a civil online space. I’ll send the live link out then.