Things look mighty good for the Dodgers. As the playoff odds show, the Phillies have only a five percent chance of catching up to the Dodgers, meaning barring a complete disaster, the Dodgers will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. However, the Giants stand in the Dodgers way, and these two teams have a history of creating complete disasters for the other. Let's look back at what has happened when these two teams meet in the final series of the season.
1933 - The Giants have a six game lead on the Pirates with two games left, and split a meaningless two game series with the sixth place Dodgers.
1934 - The Giants enter a two game series with the Dodgers tied for first with the Cardinals. The 70-81 Dodgers then sweep the Giants, making them finish two games out of first.
1936 - Another meaningless series as the Giants face the Dodgers up by five with two games left. The Dodgers take both games.
1937 - A chance for the Dodgers to ruin the Giants season as they came into Brooklyn for three games with a three game lead. While the Dodgers were able to take the first game, the second place Cubs lost as well, securing the Giants playoff berth. The Giants then won the next two games.
1951 - While not technically the last game of the season (the Dodgers played the Phillies), this certainly merits inclusion. After the Dodgers and Giants tied at the end of the season (one where the Dodgers blew a 13.5 game lead), they go into a three game playoff. The Giants take game one 3-1 while the Dodgers bounce back and win 10-0 in the second game. In the third game, the Dodgers sent Don Newcombe to the mound, who had pitched 14 and 2/3rds innings in the previous five days. Nevertheless, Newcombe allowed only one run in the first eight innings, but he hit trouble in the ninth. After allowing two singles and a double, Newcombe was pulled for Ralph Branca. Robbie Thompson sent Branca's second pitch into the stands, and the Giants win the pennant...the Giants win the pennant.
1962 - Once again the Dodgers and Giants face each other in a three game playoff. In game one, Sandy Koufax got touched up for two home runs in the first inning as the Dodgers lost 8-0. Game two saw the Dodgers come back from a 5-0 deficit to win 8-7. Game three was another heartbreaker for the Dodgers. They took a 4-2 lead into the top of the ninth. After Matty Alou lead off with a single Ed Roebuck walked two and allowed an infield single. With the lead now 4-3, Stan Williams was brought in to put out the fire, but he gave up a sacrifice fly to tie the game, uncorked a wild pitch, walked a batter intentionally then walked in a run. Ron Perranoski then came in, had a batter score on an error, then induced the final out. By then, the damage was done, and the Dodgers were retired 1-2-3 in the ninth as the Giants took another pennant.
1982 - The Dodgers and Giants enter the final series one game back of the Braves. Things look good for the Dodgers as they take the first two games, eliminating the Giants, but the Braves were still a game ahead. Fernando Valenzula took the hill for the Dodgers, and he pitched effectively, allowing only two runs on six innings. Disaster struck in the seventh, however as Tom Niedenfuer gave up a single and a double and Terry Forster allowed a two run home run to finish the Dodgers. Around this time, the Padres beat the Braves, just to insure the Giants would be directly responsible for the Dodgers demise.
1983 - The Giants had an opportunity to ruin the Dodgers season, since the Dodgers lead by three games with three to play. The Dodgers took the first game of the series 4-3 to eliminate any potential drama.
1984 - Both the Dodgers and the Giants were well out of contention.
1986 - See 1984.
1988 - The Dodgers held a seven game lead heading into the final series.
1991 - The Dodgers are tied with the Braves as they enter the final series of the season against the Giants. The Dodgers sputter out pitifully as they drop the first two games of the series 4-1, and 4-0 to let the Braves start on their run of division championships.
1993 - Now was the Dodgers chance to play spoiler. The Giants entered the series with a record of 100-58 and were tied with the Braves. The Dodgers didn't do much initially, dropping the first three games of the series, but the Braves kept pace. On the final game of the season, the Dodgers, lead by Mike Piazza's two home runs slaughtered the Giants 12-1. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't Salomon Torres who cost the Giants the season, he gave up a bad, but not insurmountable three runs in 3.1 innings, it was Dave Burba, who surrendered four in his one and a third innings of work.
2001 - The Dodgers had yet another opportunity to play spoiler for the Giants, as the hated ones held a two game lead in the wild card race with three to play. While the Dodgers did their job, taking two out of three from the Giants, the Cubs went meekly into the night, losing two out of three to the lowly Pirates on the final day of the season.
2003 - The Giants held a 13.5 game lead over the Dodgers heading into the final series.
2004 - The Giants found themselves three games back of the Dodgers with three to play, their only hope was to sweep the final series. After taking the first game 4-2, the Giants looked good in game two as well. At this point in the season, the Dodgers rotation had disintegrated to the point where Elmer Dessens was starting this pivotal game. With the Giants up 3-0 in the ninth, things looked bad for the Dodgers as Jason Schmidt would be taking the mound the next day. However, "Closer" Dustin Hermanson couldn't do the job. After giving up a lead off single to Shawn Green, he walked Robin Ventura, struck out Alex Cora and walked pinch hitters Jose Hernandez and Hee-Seop Choi. Things looked bleak as Cesar Izturis hit what appeared to be a double play ball, but it was booted by defensive replacement Cody Ransom. Jayson Werth then tied the game with a single, and Steve Finley hit a grand slam to send the Dodgers to the playoffs.
So final tally is that 10 times the Dodgers and Giants have met in the last series of the season in games that meant something, and seven times one team has eliminated the other from post season contention. I'd really like the Dodgers to just win the first two games and get it over with, but something tells me that's just not going to happen.