Can’t stop, won’t stop: Dodgers sweep Giants and show no sign of slowing down
The Dodgers have seemed aghast at, if not offended by, the thought.
Haven’t they worried at all — now that they’ve clinched the division, all but locked up baseball’s best record, and done it with a couple weeks still remaining in the regular season — about complacency setting in between now and the start of the playoffs?
No, they’ve emphatically claimed. Not in the slightest.
“That question doesn’t even register with me,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said last week, in the midst of his team’s division-clinching clubhouse celebration.
“I mean, if you don’t want to win the game, you shouldn’t be playing,” pitcher Andrew Heaney echoed Sunday.
“If you start seeing our guys get lazy, then come talk to me,” manager Dave Roberts added, his tone sharpening as he sat in the visiting skipper’s office at Oracle Park. “Our guys are smart enough to know, it matters.”
Dodgers reliever David Price said Sunday that he has not made a decision on whether to retire. A report in USA Today said he was calling it a career after the season.
Indeed, as they’d promised, the Dodgers’ intensity didn’t wane during their first series after clinching the National League West.
Instead, in the final stop of a three-city, 10-day road trip, the club completed a three-game, record-setting sweep of the San Francisco Giants with a 4-3 win in 10 innings Sunday night.
The victory was the Dodgers’ 15th over the Giants this season, the most they’ve beaten their rivals in a single campaign since the two franchises relocated to California in 1958.
And it required them to grind through a rainy evening in the Bay Area, one that concluded with an almost hour-long saga in a dramatic 10th inning.
After playing through wet conditions and a 20-minute rain delay early on, then squandering an eighth-inning lead that left the score 2-2 going into the 10th, the Dodgers manufactured two runs in the extra frame.
Austin Barnes set the tone with a sacrifice bunt. Mookie Betts broke the tie with a double down the line. Then, the Dodgers strung together three two-out walks (the first one was intentional) to force home an insurance run.
They needed it.
In the bottom half of the 10th, reliever Andre Jackson gave up one run and loaded the bases with two outs before left-hander Justin Bruihl replaced him and got LaMonte Wade Jr. to ground out for his first career save.
“Beer shower!” Dodgers players shouted as they returned to the clubhouse, eager to commemorate Bruihl’s milestone moment with a celebration.
“There was beer, ketchup, milk, a bunch of other stuff dumped on me,” Bruihl said with a smile.
“I took a nice hot shower after.”
Each little moment — playing through the rain, scoring twice in the 10th, celebrating Bruihl’s accomplishment — was evidence to Roberts that his players haven’t dropped their level of intensity in recent days, that they haven’t lost their edge despite their place in the standings.
“There wasn’t any lack of focus or taking plays off,” Roberts said. “It was the same intensity as I saw last year, when we were in a pennant race with these guys. So credit to our players.”
Before the game, the manager said he’s struggled to convince his biggest stars — namely Freeman, who has missed just one game — to take more days off as the season winds down.
“I’m not a quitter,” Roberts joked. “But I also know battles that I’m going to lose.”
The Dodgers (101-44) still are being cautious in other ways.
Heaney was lifted from his start Sunday after just four innings and 65 pitches, with his drop-off in execution following the fourth-inning rain delay factoring into Roberts’ decision.
The team also carefully managed its bullpen as usual, turning to less-experienced arms in Jackson and Bruihl in the 10th in order to prevent higher-leverage options such as Tommy Kahnle and Chris Martin from pitching in back-to-back games.
Julio Urías pitched six strong innings, and the Dodgers rolled past the San Francisco Giants 7-2 on Saturday night to earn their 100th win this season.
It almost allowed the Giants (69-77) — who were twice robbed of likely runs earlier in the night on ground-rule doubles that forced a runner to stop at third — to steal Sunday’s game late.
Jackson gave up a deep flyout to Joc Pederson that might have been a walk-off home run if not for a stiff wind. Bruihl yielded a long foul ball to Wade that drifted just wide of the right-field pole.
Ultimately, however, the Dodgers prevailed yet again.
“If you ask anybody in here, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you how many times we’ve beat the Giants,” Heaney said. “We just go out there and play.”
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