Dodgers Dugout: What a great game to end the NLDS

The Dodgers pose for a team photo after Game 5.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and wow, what a great series.

—That was one of the best postseason series in history. Two evenly matched teams, competing at the highest level. It was like that all season.

—As much as Dodgers fans should hate the Giants, it was tough to hate this particular Giants team. They are filled with players who play the game the right way. That really should have been the NLCS. Really, it should have been the World Series.

—Just as everyone predicted, Corey Knebel got the start, and Max Scherzer got the save.

—I wonder if Scherzer and Orel Hershiser will get together today to compare postseason saves.

—Honestly, when Dave Roberts announced Knebel was starting, I questioned the decision. I would have started Julio Urías. But darn if it didn’t work. Giants manager Gabe Kapler adjusted his lineup somewhat for Knebel, then again for Urías, and the Giants had fewer weapons at their disposal when Blake Treinen, Kenley Jansen and Scherzer came into the game.

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—You have to admit, almost every call Roberts has made this postseason has worked. Well, except for that weird decision to have Chris Taylor bunt with runners on first and third and one out in the ninth. Doesn’t matter since the Dodgers won, but it is an example of why most baseball front offices don’t believe in small ball.

—It’s strange how the baseball gods work. The Dodgers lose a key game in July to the Giants because of a bad checked-swing call by the first base umpire. That game was the big difference in the Dodgers winning the division and the Giants winning the division. Lots of things could have changed if that call was made properly. Then, in Game 5, the Giants lose the game because of another bad checked-swing call. Scherzer probably gets Wilmer Flores out anyway, but you never know. Instead, the Dodgers advance and the Giants go home.

—On July 22, the Dodgers were up 3-2 with two out in the ninth inning. Kenley Jansen threw a full-count pitch with the bases loaded. Darin Ruf tried to hold up his swing but clearly went around. If it’s a swing and a miss on a Jansen throw, it’s game over and the Dodgers get a huge win as they chase the Giants in the tight NL West. First-base umpire Ed Hickox said he did not swing. Tying run walked home. The Giants eventually won the game 5-3.


—And after the game, no excuses from the Giants. Ruf, the beneficiary of that bad checked-swing call during the season, even took the time to point that out and said it probably gave the Giants the division. And Kapler refused to use it as an excuse.

—Again, Cody Bellinger is in the middle of the key Dodger postseason rally.

—The Giants tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth, but their fans were strangely quiet. That was a nice sound.

—Before the game, Vin Scully tweeted that this was the biggest game in the history of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, bigger even that Game 3 of the 1951 tiebreaker series.

Justin Turner hasn’t done much this postseason, but getting hit by a pitch at a key moment was great. Rudi Stein couldn’t have done it better himself.

—For all the talk about the erratic Dodgers offense, note that the Giants struck out 13 times and drew no walks in Game 5, and scored only 10 runs in the series.

—OK, who thought after Turner made that error in the ninth that LaMonte Wade Jr. was going to hit a home run? The TBS announcers sure did.

Brian Anderson got me twice by reacting to two routine fly balls as if they were home runs. And Ron Darling is actually entertaining me with the subtle way he disagrees with Anderson. At one point, Anderson said a pitch was right down the middle, but Darling quickly said “but it was away enough that he hit it off the end of his bat.”

Gavin Lux was the forgotten man and it appeared his days of being a top prospect were over. Not anymore.

Mookie Betts went four for four with a run scored and a stolen base and is hitting .458 this postseason. Would anyone still prefer to have Alex Verdugo?

—Up next, the Atlanta Braves. Have to guard against a letdown here. It is unknown who will pitch Game 1 on Saturday, with Scherzer saying after Game 5 that he would wait and see how he felt on Sunday. I would not be surprised to see the Dodgers lose Game 1, because this NLDS felt like a World Series.

—Lots of people seem to think the Braves will be pushovers. They won’t be.

—Remember, the Dodgers can adjust their roster for the NLCS.

—But we have plenty of time to talk about Atlanta in tomorrow’s newsletter. Today just sit back and enjoy, as Tommy Lasorda and Kirk Gibson would say, “the fruits of victory.”

Dodgers in the postseason

How the Dodgers are doing in the 2021 postseason


Albert Pujols, .500 (2 for 4)
Mookie Betts, .458 (11 for 24, 1 homer, 4 RBIs)
Steven Souza Jr., .333 (1 for 3)
Gavin Lux, .333 (3 for 9)
Cody Bellinger, .294 (5 for 17, 1 double, 3 RBIs)
Will Smith, .286 (6 for 21, 1 double, 2 homers, 3 RBIs)
AJ Pollock, .214 (3 for 14, 1 double, 2 RBIs)
Corey Seager, .208 (5 for 24, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs)
Trea Turner, .192 (5 for 26, 2 doubles, 1 RBI)
Chris Taylor, .188 (3 for 16, 1 double, 1 homer, 3 RBIs)
Matt Beaty, .125 (1 for 8)
Justin Turner, .083 (2 for 24)
Austin Barnes, .000 (0 for 1)
Luke Raley, .000 (0 for 1)
Billy McKinney, .000 (0 for 1)


Brusdar Graterol, 4.2 IP, 3 hits, 0 walks, 3 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Kenley Jansen, 3.0 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 8 K’s, 2-0, 0.00 ERA
Corey Knebel, 2.1 IP, 1 hits, 0 walks, 4 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Phil Bickford, 2.1 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Max Scherzer, 12.1 IP, 6 hits, 4 walks, 16 K’s, 0-1, 1 save, 1.46 ERA
Blake Treinen, 5 IP, 2 hits, 1 walks, 6 K’s, 1.80 ERA
Julio Urías, 9 IP, 6 hits, 1 walk, 10 K’s, 1-0, 2.00 ERA
Walker Buehler, 10.2 IP, 9 hits, 3 walks, 9 K’s, 0-1, 3.38 ERA
Joe Kelly, 2.1 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 K, 1-0, 3.86 ERA
Alex Vesia, 1.1 IP, 2 hit, 0 walks, 2 K’s, 6.77 ERA

Note: Tony Gonsolin and David Price are the only two players on the NLDS roster not to appear in a postseason game this year.

NLCS schedule

Game 1: Saturday, at Atlanta, 5 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 2: Sunday, at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 3: Tuesday, at Dodgers, TBD, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 4: Wednesday, at Dodgers, TBD, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 5*: Thursday, at Dodgers, TBD, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 6*: Saturday, Oct. 22, at Atlanta, TBD, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 7*: Sunday, Oct. 23, at Atlanta, TBD, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio

Note: No starting pitchers have been announced yet.

*-if necessary

In case you missed it

Dodgers settle old scores, crush bad memories in grudge-match triumph over Giants

Cody Bellinger delivers Dodgers to historic win over rival Giants in NLDS Game 5

Hernández: Max Scherzer closes out unusual game plan for Dodgers in an instant classic

Giants now know what it’s like to be on the wrong end of a blown checked-swing call

Mookie Betts turns ‘Beat L.A.’ chants into ‘Repeat L.A.’ shouts with clutch Game 5

Dodgers’ belief in Gavin Lux paying rich dividends

Photos: Dodgers vs. Giants in NLDS Game 5

And finally

Highlights from Dodgers-Giants Game 5. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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