Dodgers’ offense comes to life in Game 2 as they rout Giants 9-2 to even NLDS
SAN FRANCISCO — The good news for the Dodgers as they clung to a one-run lead in the top of the sixth inning in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Saturday night was that they loaded the bases with one out. The bad news was Cody Bellinger and AJ Pollock were due up next.
San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler swapped Kevin Gausman with Dominic Leone, giving time for the tension to accumulate at Oracle Park. It was the biggest moment in the Dodgers’ season, a chance to pad their cushion in their effort to avoid the dreaded 0-2 best-of-five series hole.
Bellinger and Pollock were a combined 0 for 9 with seven strikeouts in the series up to that point. Bellinger was two for 53 with 25 strikeouts against the Giants this season. Pollock was nine for 61 with 22 strikeouts in his Dodgers postseason career.
All that history, sample sizes ample enough to not disregard, quickly became obsolete. Bellinger lined the first pitch he saw to the wall in left-center field for a two-run double. Pollock then matched Bellinger, ripping the next pitch down the left-field line to trade places. The sudden blows deflated the rowdy ballpark and gave the Dodgers a 6-1 lead in the eventual 9-2 victory.
Cody Bellinger goes from hapless to heroic in Dodgers’ victory over Giants
SAN FRANCISCO — The noise was noxious.
He had been ripped and ridiculed, his ability dissected, his attitude challenged, his bat belittled.
When his lanky frame stepped to the plate at Oracle Park in the sixth inning with the bases loaded Saturday night in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants, Cody Bellinger was a man tormented.
He had finished the season hitting .165, the worst average in history by a former MVP with at least 250 at-bats.
He had spent the summer flailing against the Giants, going two for 53 with 25 strikeouts.
He had endured parts of two games in this National League Division Series in embarrassment, striking out four times in five at-bats.
Final: Dodgers beat Giants 9-2, even up series at one game apiece
SAN FRANCISCO — A night after one of their worst offensive performances of the season, the Dodgers responded with one of their best ambushing the Giants for a 9-2 win at Oracle Park that evens up the best-of-five NLDS at one game apiece as the series heads back to LA.
The Dodgers had 11 hits, chased far less than they did while getting shut out in Game 1, and now have the chance to potentially finish off the series with two home wins at Dodger Stadium next week.
Top 8th, 9-2 Dodgers: Will Smith homers, Dodgers tack on a couple more to pull away
This game is teetering on blowout territory now.
The Dodgers scored three runs in the eighth, beginning with a leadoff blast from Will Smith followed by four singles in an inning that saw eight batters come to the plate.
Smith’s solo shot came on a hanging first-pitch slider from newly inserted reliever Zack Littell. Things only got worse for Littell from there, as he gave up singles to Chris Taylor, AJ Pollock and pinch-hitter Matt Beaty, the last of which scored a run.
Jarlin Garica came out the Giants’ bullpen next, but his first pitch was turned around by Corey Seager for another RBI single, making it 9-2 and sending parts of the Oracle Park crowd for the exits.
Mid 8th: Dodgers lead 9-2
Top 6th, 6-1 Dodgers: Cody Bellinger, AJ Pollock extend lead after Kevin Gausman is pulled from game
Cody Bellinger talked a lot before the game about focusing on his approach, laying off bad pitches and swinging at good one.
With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, he made good on that goal, going after a first-pitch fastball from Giants reliever Dominic Leone over the outer half of the plate for a two-run double that made it 4-1 Dodgers.
In the next at-bat, AJ Pollock snapped his 0-for-7 start to the postseason with a two-run double of his own to make it 6-1.
The Dodgers’ rally began with a leadoff double by Trea Turner, who stayed back on a Kevin Gausman splitter and hit a line drive into left. Gausman struck out Justin Turner in the next at-bat, but then walked Will Smith, bringing his night to an end.
The Giants summoned Leone, a right-hander, but he walked Chris Taylor before serving up the first-pitch double to Bellinger.
Prior to that double, Bellinger had been only 2-for-53 against the Giants this season with 25 strikeouts, including Friday’s Game 1. He also hadn’t had an extra-base hit in any game since Sep. 13 (though he missed a week during that span with fractured ribs).
Another notable aspect of his clutch hit:
Mid 6th: Dodgers lead 6-1
End 5th, 2-1 Dodgers: Pitchers duel developing between Julio Urías and Kevin Gausman
Kevin Gausman retired the Dodgers in order for a third consecutive inning in the top of the fifth, making it 10 in a row he’s set down.
However, Julio Urías has matched him, retiring six Giants in a row and 10 out of 11 since Donovan Solano’s second-inning sacrifice fly.
The Giants did get a runner on second base in the fourth inning, after Buster Posey hit a double to right that got over Mookie Betts’ head after he took a bad route on the ball.
Other than that, both pitchers have found a rhtyhm.
End 5th: Dodgers lead 2-1
Mid 4th, 2-1 Dodgers: Kevin Gausman finding groove
After giving up two runs in the second inning, Kevin Gausman seems to have made an adjust.
During scoreless third and fourth innings in which he retired six in a row, Gausman has thrown far fewer fastballs and mixing in more secondary pitches — a recipe that worked for teammate Logan Webb in Game 1.
In the first two innings, 25 of Gausman’s 37 pitches were fastballs. Since then, only 10 of 28 have been heaters.
Mid 4th: Dodgers lead 2-1
Crowd check: Another packed house, but this time with more vocal Dodgers fans
If there were Dodger fans at Oracle Park last night, you might not have known it. During the Giants’ 4-0 win, the few blue-clad pockets of the stands were kept silent throughout.
That changed during the second inning in Game 2, when the Dodgers got back-to-back RBI singles from Julio Urías and Mookie Betts. After the second, Dodger fans — the majority of which are sitting down the right-field line, behind the visiting dugout — got a “Let’s go Dodgers” chant going, before he rest of the sell-out crowd cheered over it.
Since then, the two contingencies have gone back-and-forth, embracing the first postseason meeting between their two teams.
Top 2nd, 2-0 Dodgers: Julio Urías helps own cause, hits RBI single as Dodgers take early lead
With a runner on second and two outs, the Giants thought they were doing the smart thing by intentionally walking AJ Pollock to bring pitcher Julio Urías to the plate.
They thought wrong.
In a 1-1 count, Urías put a good swing on a splitter above the knees, lining an RBI single into right to open the scoring.
Mookie Betts doubled the Dodgers’ lead in the next at-bat, hammering another poorly located splitter into left to make it 2-0.
Once a Cy Young candidate, Kevin Gausman has struggled to find feel for his splitter at times during the second half of the season. The ones he has executed so far tonight have been devasting — the pitch has accounted for all three of his strikeouts thus far, including one of Corey Seager to end the second inning without further damage — but the couple he didn’t cost him. Something to watch as the game goes on.
Mid 2nd: Dodgers lead 2-0
End 1st, no score: Julio Urías tosses scoreless first inning
Julio Urías got through the first inning without allowing a run, but the Giants didn’t make it easy.
The left-hander had to throw 20 pitches and strand a runner at second after an Austin Slater double, escaping unscathed by striking out Buster Posey with a well-executed changeup.
Even though only four batters came to the plate, Urías’ pitch count was immediately under siege after Darin Ruf and Kris Bryant fouled off a combined 10 pitches.
Urías might have needed to throw a few more, too, if not for a generous strike three call on Ruf by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez — who is notorious for having an inconsistent strike zone.
End 1st: No score
Mid 1st, no score: Dodgers strand leadoff walk to begin game
Mookie Betts gave the Dodgers an early baserunner, leading off the game with a walk against Kevin Gausman. But he was left stranded, after Gausman struck out Corey Seager and got fly balls against Trea Turner and Justin Turner.
An early check on something manager Dave Roberts said would be key tonight: Of the Dodgers’ five swings in that inning, three were on pitches in the strike zone. The lone two exceptions belonged to Seager, who fouled off a fastball and went down swinging on a Gausman splitter.
Mid 1st: No score
What to know about NLDS Game 2: Julio Urías’ familiarity with Giants, Kevin Gausman’s late season surge and more
SAN FRANCISCO — It might not technically be a must-win, but tonight’s game certainly isn’t one the Dodgers can much afford to lose.
Cody Bellinger said as much prior to Game 2 of the NLDS, in which the Dodgers will try to even their best-of-five series against the Giants after losing 4-0 on Friday.
“We knew this was gonna be tough,” Bellinger said. “We’ve been in this situation before, multiple times. We just got to go out and take care of our own business. If we do that, we’ll be alright.”
Ahead of first pitch, here’s everything you need to know going into tonight’s game.
First pitch: 6:07 p.m. PDT.
Dodgers notes: Left-hander Julio Urías will take the bump, hopeful his strong regular season can carry into the playoffs.
In his first full-length year as a full-time member of the starting rotation, Urías posted a 2.96 ERA and major league best 20 wins in 32 starts.
That included five starts against the Giants, more than any other team Urías faced this year. Four of those outings were impressive, with Urías pitching at least 5 2/3 innings and giving up no more than two runs. In the other, however, the Giants roughed Urías up for seven runs (six earned) in five innings on May 29.
Still, in 29 1/3 innings against the Giants overall, Urías had a 3.38 ERA and notably yielded just three walks and three home runs while striking out 33 batters.
“We have good familiarity against Julio,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said, though also noted: “We simplify our approach against all pitchers in general, and that’s hunting pitches we can drive and do damage on, being especially assertive on those, and then being comfortable with a patient approach against pitches we can’t drive.”
In past postseasons, the Dodgers have used Julio Urías as a starter and reliever. But in 2021, he will get the call from the start, beginning Saturday in Game 2 against the Giants.
Urías finished the season on a high-note as well, throwing five shutout innings in Arizona on Sep. 26 before limiting the Brewers to just one run in 6 1/3 innings last Saturday. In that latter start, Urías’ pitch velocities also rebounded after a three-game dip, with his fastball returning to an average speed of 94.7 mph.
While most of Urías career postseason experience has been in the bullpen, he did have success in a couple starts last October. In Game 3 of the NLCS, he held the Braves to one run over five innings. In Game 4 of the World Series, he allowed just two runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Rays.
For tonight’s, manager Dave Roberts identified the opening inning as being particularly important.
“I know Julio’s going to be prepared,” Roberts said. “[The Giants] do a really good job in the first inning ... So to have that shut down first inning and potentially put up a run in in the top would be helpful.”
At the plate, the Dodgers made one lineup change, inserting Chris Taylor into center field and moving Bellinger to first base — with Roberts explaining the team was willing to sacrifice some outfield defense in order to get Taylor’s bat in the lineup.
A move the team didn’t make: AJ Pollock remains in left field, while Gavin Lux will once again come off the bench.
Despite a strong regular season in which he batted .297 and hit 21 home runs, Pollock is 0-for-6 in the playoffs. Lux, meanwhile, finished the season as one of the Dodgers hottest hitters, with a .360 batting average over his final 17 games.
Asked why the team stuck with Pollock in the lineup, Roberts referenced the veteran’s “body of work” over the course of the season compared to Lux’s small-sample success at the end.
Roberts also emphasized the ability to bring Lux and fellow left-hander Matt Beaty — who was dropped from the lineup in favor of the right-hander Taylor — off the bench for specific matchups.
Giants notes: In the first half of the season, Kevin Gausman emerged as the Giants’ best starter, earned his first career All-Star selection and entered the Midsummer Classic as one of the National League’s Cy Young frontrunners.
For most of the second half, it was a different story for the 30-year-old right-hander.
In 13 starts between July 19 and Sep. 21, he had a 5.04 ERA — raising his season-long mark by more than a full run — and surpassed the five-inning mark just four times.
On the mound, he lost feel for his trademark splitter. And behind the scenes, he dealt with personal adversity after his wife was hospitalized in July with pregnancy complications (she since gave birth without issue).
“It was tough. It was a grind. But that’s what baseball is,” Gausman said. “You kind of just got to expect that at some point during the season something’s going to happen that you haven’t accounted for and you got to be able to adjust.”
Adjust Gausman did, finishing the regular season with back-to-back impressive outings against the Rockies and Padres, giving up only two runs over 13 combined innings to finish the season with a career-best 2.81 ERA.
The big difference: Gausman’s splitter returned to form, once again creating a dominant one-two punch with his mid-90s mph fastball.
“It’s a really good pitch,” Bellinger said of Gausman’s splitter. “Throws it well off his fastball.”
Roberts said the key for Dodgers hitters on Saturday night will be attacking Gausman up in the zone and being prepared for his other pitch, a slider — especially after Friday’s starter Logan Webb mixed in more secondary pitches than usual against the Dodgers’ lineup.
“When he’s at the knees and down, it doesn’t bode well for the offense,” Roberts said. “He’s got to make pitches and we have to be able to stay in the strike zone.”
The Giants made several changes to their lineup against the left-handed Urías, inserting right-handed hitters Darin Ruf, Austin Slater and Donovan Solano. Shortstop Brandon Crawford is the only left-handed hitter in the Giants lineup.
A potentially relevant stat for Saturday: The Giants as a team hit slightly worse against left-handed pitching this year (their on-base-plus-slugging percentage was 26 points higher against righties) and were just 27-20 in games started by left-handers, as opposed to 80-35 against righties.
Dodgers hear cheers turn to jeers against Giants, their playoff magic a big, fat zero
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler and manager Dave Roberts talk about the struggles that led to a 4-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday.
It was black and orange and cold.
The music was dark, the booing was thick, and the familiarly harsh lyrics were muscled into the ballyard by two former football stars.
Steve Young, standing near home plate wearing a San Francisco Giants jersey and holding a microphone, started it.
Jerry Rice, standing next to him, picked it up.
Soon everyone in cramped and cloaked Oracle Park was rhythmically waving orange flags and chanting it.
“Beat L.A. … Beat L.A. … Beat L.A.”
For the rest of a thumping Friday night, the words swept through this crowded edge of San Francisco Bay, the siren of an ancient passion, the soundtrack of an enduring history.
“Beat L.A. … Beat L.A. ... Beat L.A.”
And so they did. They overpowered L.A. They overwhelmed L.A. They beat L.A.
Chris Taylor to start in center field for Dodgers in Game 2
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts discusses why he changed his lineup for NLDS Game 2 against the San Francisco Giants.
SAN FRANCISCO — As Dave Roberts said after the Dodgers’ Game 1 loss Friday, Chris Taylor will make his first start of the postseason in center field in Game 2 against the Giants on Saturday.
Cody Bellinger, who started in center field the first two playoff games, will move to first base. Matt Beaty, the team’s first baseman Wednesday and Friday, will start on the bench.
The adjustments don’t include AJ Pollock. He will stay in left field despite his continued postseason struggles. Pollock is 0 for six with three strikeouts in the Dodgers’ two postseason games. He’s nine for 60 with 21 strikeouts and a .386 OPS in 21 playoff games in his Dodgers career.
Taylor didn’t appear in the Dodgers’ 4-0 loss Friday after clubbing a walk-off, two-run home run in their wild-card game win over the Cardinals.
The Dodgers will look to rebound against Kevin Gausman after failing to score a run off Logan Webb on Friday. Webb threw 92 pitches across 7 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks. Roberts noted multiple times that the Dodgers’ batters didn’t make in-game adjustments, a surprising notion for a veteran team with three hitting coaches.
Gausman, the Giants’ ace in the first half of the season, posted a 2.81 ERA over 192 innings during the regular season. He gave up five earned runs on eight hits in 14 innings across three starts against the Dodgers this season. He faced the Dodgers in the 2018 NLDS as a member of the Braves, giving up two runs over two innings out of the bullpen. Saturday will be his first career playoff start.
Julio Urías will take the mound for the Dodgers on six days’ rest. The left-hander, the only 20-game winner in the majors this season, surrendered 12 runs (11 earned) on 31 hits in 29 1/3 innings over five starts against the Giants. The Giants were a better offense against right-handers than lefties this season, posting a .776 OPS against righties and a .752 against left-handers.
Mookie Betts RF
Corey Seager SS
Trea Turner 2B
Justin Turner 3B
Will Smith C
Chris Taylor CF
Cody Bellinger 1B
AJ Pollock LF
Julio Urías P
Darin Ruf LF
Kris Bryant CF
Austin Slater RF
Buster Posey C
Wilmer Flores 1B
Brandon Crawford SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Donovan Solano 2B
Kevin Gausman P
Max Muncy and his Giant-toppling reputation sorely missed in Dodgers’ Game 1 loss
SAN FRANCISCO — Two years and four months ago, Max Muncy spoke six words that made him forever a part of the best rivalry in baseball.
Muncy launched a mammoth home run, with the ball flying over and out of the ballpark before plopping into San Francisco Bay. Madison Bumgarner barked at Muncy to get on with his run around the bases, and Muncy’s comeback was such a classic that it appeared on T-shirts almost instantly.
“Get it out of the ocean,” Muncy barked back at Bumgarner.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Muncy was not in their lineup. He still plays for the Dodgers, of course, but he was injured on the final day of the regular season.
Feast-or-famine offense makes an ugly return in Dodgers’ loss to Giants
SAN FRANCISCO — On the same night the San Francisco Giants returned to the playoffs, another constant of Octobers past resurfaced.
The All-or-Nothing Dodgers are back.
They’re the Dodgers who used to whack a bunch of homers but couldn’t score any other way.
They’re the Dodgers who used to break the hearts of their fans every postseason, inevitably failed at some point by their swing-for-the-fences approach.
The days of feast or famine are here again.
In Game 1 of their National League Division Series against the Giants at Oracle Park on Friday night, the Dodgers didn’t homer. They didn’t score. And they lost 4-0.
When their opponents beat them at their own game by smacking three home runs, they didn’t have any answers.
“We didn’t make adjustments,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Betting lines and odds for Dodgers vs. Giants on Saturday
The Dodgers look to get a road split in their best-of-five National League Divisional Series against San Francisco with MLB wins leader Julio Urías on the mound Saturday.
Urias has a lower road ERA than home ERA, earning 13 of his 20 wins away from Los Angeles with a 2.71 ERA compared to a 3.27 home ERA.
The Giants counter with Kevin Gausman, who has a 3.44 ERA in San Francisco compared to a 2.33 on the road. The Giants lost in all three of his home starts since Sept. 1.
The Dodgers opened as -115 favorites at DraftKings. They went as low as -105 on Friday, though the opening total of 7.5 fell to seven overnight with the over having -120 juice.
The Dodgers have won in all 11 of Urías starts since the start of August. The Dodgers have dropped three of his last four starts against the Giants, and San Francisco has won seven of its last nine against the Dodgers.
Julio Urías’ role for Dodgers this postseason is clear: He’s a starter
SAN FRANCISCO — It was a familiar sight.
A crisp October night. The late innings of a playoff game. And Julio Urías warming up in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
For the last several years, such has been the left-hander’s role with the Dodgers this time of year, transitioning to the bullpen to pitch leverage innings with the season on the line.
And if not for Chris Taylor’s walk-off home run Wednesday in the wild-card game, Urías might have been called upon again in the 10th inning.
Instead, Urías watched from the bullpen as the ball sailed into the seats, then turned his attention to his scheduled start Saturday night in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants. Right-hander Kevin Gausman is scheduled to start for the Giants.
Dodgers’ offense goes missing in shutout loss to Giants in NLDS Game 1
SAN FRANCISCO — A defeated Walker Buehler put his hands on his knees and looked away, down at the grass, as the hysterical, orange-towel-waving crowd rumbled along a frigid San Francisco Bay. Game 1 of the National League Division Series wasn’t over. The Dodgers had two turns to claw back, six outs for the offense to display some semblance of life and topple the San Francisco Giants on Friday. It just felt over.
Buehler understood the moment. Kris Bryant’s solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning put the Giants ahead three runs and three runs felt like 30 the way the Dodgers were faltering at the plate.
The Dodgers’ offense — a formidable entity on paper even without the injured Max Muncy — was nowhere to be found at Oracle Park. Logan Webb was toying with them in his first playoff start. The Giants’ bullpen, perhaps the best in the majors, loomed. Runs were precious, and the prospect of the Dodgers scoring any seemed remote.
The Dodgers wound up not plating any, falling 4-0 in the first postseason game in the fabled rivalry’s history five days after the Giants beat them out by a game for the National League West crown. They produced five hits and five groundouts back to Webb. They didn’t have a runner reach third base after the first inning. They’ve scored three runs in 18 innings across two games thus far this postseason.
“We just chased a lot more than we should have,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “If you don’t make adjustments then they’re going to keep going to the well. That was the story.”