Column: Dodgers hear cheers turn to jeers against Giants, their playoff magic a big, fat zero

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Walker Buehler and Dave Roberts talk about what went wrong in NLDS Game 1 loss

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.

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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.

Former 49ers stars Jerry Rice, left, and Steve Young stand on the field before Game 1 of the NLDS.
Former San Francisco 49ers stars Jerry Rice, left, and Steve Young before Game 1 of the NLDS. The two led the Oracle Park crowd in a “Beat L.A.” chant.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

In the first postseason meeting between the Dodgers and their legendary rival Giants since the two franchises began competing against each other 131 years ago, the Giants and their thirsty fans claimed a 4-0 victory in the opener of the best-of-five National League division series.

From the first jeer to the sweeping cheers to the final taunt, it was clear that this was about more than just a night in October, this was about a 2,536-game grudge.

And, for one night anyway, the Dodgers were crushed by it.

“It was crazy here,” the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler said.


Crazy loud. Crazy intimidating. Crazy outcome for a team that was supposed to be immune to it all.

San Francisco Giants starter Logan Webb leaves the Dodgers frustrated at the plate and Walker Buehler gives up two home runs in 4-0 loss in NLDS Game 1 loss.

Oct. 8, 2021

An offense that pulled off a dramatic win in a wild-card game against the St. Louis Cardinals just two days earlier could summon no such magic, twisting itself into knots against a crafty kid pitcher named Logan Webb. In his first playoff start, he struck out 10 and walked none and allowed just five worthless hits.

“We didn’t make adjustments … we chased a lot more than we should have,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Then there was their big-game pitcher who usually shines in this moment, but this time he occasionally was swallowed by it, Buehler beaten by two soaring home runs and pulled from the mound to a sea of bouncing and laughing jeers.

“Obviously it’s on me to try and create some momentum and I kind of sucked that out of our dugout,” Buehler said.

Finally, as if the night wasn’t uncomfortable enough for the visitors, halfway through the game the 41,934 fans gave a curtain call to an old Dodgers nemesis who wasn’t even in uniform. Yes, Barry Bonds still shows up here. And, yes, there he was, recognized on the giant video board, at which point fans chanted, “Bar-ry, Bar-ry!” until he stood and waved.


All told, it was pretty awful, the quick and brutal shindig best summed up in two words that surely will be ringing all night through the stunned Dodgers’ psyche.

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Oct. 7, 2021

“Beat L.A. … Beat L.A. … Beat L.A.”

First inning, two out and the Giants’ Tommy La Stella standing on third base, Buster Posey deposits a 3-and-0 fastball from Buehler over the brick right-field fence and into McCovey Cove for a two-run homer.

“Beat L.A. … Beat L.A. … Beat L.A.”

“The moment Buster hit the home run, you really could feel the energy in the ballpark, and I think the intensity grew … The environment was right where we wanted it to be tonight,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said.

The Dodgers' Trea Turner reacts after striking out against the Giants at Oracle Park on Oct. 9, 2021.
The Dodgers’ Trea Turner (6) reacts after one of his two strikeouts as Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) runs back to the dugout in the sixth inning.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Fourth inning, with one out and the Dodgers’ Corey Seager standing on first base, second baseman La Stella picks a Justin Turner grounder and beautifully flips it from his glove to shortstop Brandon Crawford to start a spectacular double play that would epitomize the night.

“Beat L.A. … Beat L.A. … Beat L.A.”

“That was sick,” Webb said. “I was screaming and yelling. Everybody was screaming and yelling.”


Seventh inning, Kris Bryant crushes an ailing Buehler fastball into the left-center-field stands, causing Buehler to drop his head while the orange flags flew.

“Beat L.A. … Beat L.A. … Beat L.A.”

“Our fans have been great all year, and tonight was another level,” Bryant said.

“It’s a huge advantage when you know they’re out there on our side.”

The final blow was struck by Crawford, in the eighth, a blast into the right-field stands against Alex Vesia, and now the fans were so happy they were hoarse. They finished the night pumping their fists through their coats and sweaters amid 50-degree temperatures to loudly cheer every Giants flinch and loudly boo every Dodgers step.

“Beat L.A. … Beat L.A. … Beat L.A.”

The Dodgers should have been better than this.

The Dodgers are better than this.

They came in here with all the momentum, gaining heaps of it from Chris Taylor’s two-run, walk-off homer Wednesday at Dodger Stadium in their 3-1, wild-card playoff victory against the Cardinals.

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Oct. 8, 2021

Yet they managed just three singles, two doubles, no hits in five at-bats with runners in scoring position, and barely any at-bats with any conscience.

No, Taylor didn’t even play. But yes, Roberts gave the perfect answer when asked about this in the postgame press conference.

“Chris is going to play tomorrow,” he said.

The Dodgers also came in here with an advantage on the mound, Buehler having a 2.35 earned-run average in 11 postseason starts and a memorable 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the Game 163 victory over Colorado in 2018.


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Oct. 8, 2021

But he walked the Giants’ first batter of the game, La Stella, and pretty much grinded his way through 6-1/3 innings, allowing six hits and those two home runs.

“They had a good night, we didn’t, and we’ll move forward,” Buehler said.

As the joyous fans filed out of Oracle on Friday night, they were serenaded with the sounds of, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

If the Dodgers don’t win Game 2 on Saturday night, they might also leave their season here.