It’s that time of the week again. Let’s check in on the most exciting race between the most exciting teams in baseball. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers remained locked in a battle for the best record in baseball and more importantly to avoid the dreaded one game Wild Card.
Here’s what happened during the past seven days.
1st: San Francisco Giants (99-54)
Record over the last seven days: 4-2
Despite the gap in winning percentage between both ball clubs the series was rather evenly matched with each team scoring eight runs and shutting out the opponent in one the games. The Giants do that on the back of six scoreless from the pen after a short start from the returning Alex Wood while Atlanta relied on Max Fried for seven masterful innings to win 3-0 and avoid the sweep on Sunday.
The highlight of the series came on the opener where the Giants entered the final inning up by two runs and Tyler Rogers gave up a three-run bomb to Travis d’Arnaud. When it looked like the Braves were going to win it, Will Smith gave up a game-tying solo shot to Donovan Solano with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. With the score tied a couple of innings later, the Braves walked the bases loaded with one out to pitch to Kevin Gausman because Gabe Kapler was out of bench bats and the pitcher delivered it with a sac fly to walk it off.
San Francisco then left home for San Diego to play the Padres once again. The first game was marked by both starters, Joe Musgrove and Kevin Gausman getting hit around, combining for a WHIP above 2.00 on the night.
Manny Machado had a great game and helped San Diego out homer the visitors four to one but San Francisco made the most out of its opportunities and limited those Padres blasts to a minimal impact (all solo shots).
An unlikely matchup of Scott Kazmir versus Vince Velasquez went quickly the Giants way with three in the first and from there on the Giants cruised to a 8-1 lead. The Padres made it interesting going as far as getting Tatis Jr. up to bat as the winning run with a couple of runners on and two outs but Rogers survived that gauntlet and San Francisco won 8-6.
2nd: Los Angeles Dodgers 1.0 GB (98-55)
Record over the last seven days: 4-2
The Dodgers struggled mighty against Luis Castillo on Friday night with 10 strikeouts in six and a third frames against Luis Castillo. Max Muncy in particular had some of his worst-looking at bats of the year and the ball didn’t seem to travel for either team all that much.
The Dodgers righted the ship with another magnificent scoreless outing from Max Scherzer and a really encouraging Kershaw outing that saw the left-hander complete five innings striking out eight and walking none earning his first win in months.
The team then travelled to Colorado trying to take another series from the Rockies on the road and it had to sweat like it didn’t against Cincinnati for an extra innings win on the opener with an Albert Pujols go-ahead pinch-hit single in extras, the first ever for a Dodger hitter in Coors Field, which seems hard to believe but it is true.
The team then suffered a big blow with a 10-5 loss in the second game. The offense gave an early 3-0 lead but Walker Buehler had a bad day and left with a crooked number and any hopes of a Cy Young award pretty much done. The team was still in the game trailing only by a couple on the later innings when Dave Roberts made the at very least, extremely questionable decision of intentionally walking Elias Diaz with Alex Vesia on the mound and two outs to face Sam Hilliard.
The problem with this decision was that:
1: Vesia has been really good against both lefties and righties, he is not a specialist.
2: Elias Diaz has weak numbers overall. It’s not like he’s mashing lefties or anything close to it.
3: Sam Hilliard is extremely strikeout prone but he offers a power upside that Diaz doesn’t. It makes no sense to add an extra runner and increase the blow of an unfavorable outcome by walking Diaz to face Hilliard.
It was a poor decision regardless of outcome. It’s one at bat. Anything can happen and you shouldn’t use it as a confirmation of a theory but what’s right is right and the process was certainly flawed.
On the rubber match the Dodgers were down to their final out after another bad performance by its starting pitcher, this time Max Scherzer had his first rough outing as a Dodger but the team rallied with Bookie Betts, Corey Seager and finally Trea Turner driving in the tying run. Max Muncy hit a go-ahead two-run Home Run to lead off the 10th and Blake Treinen despite some control issues closer the door on Colorado.
The division leaders leave San Diego and travel to Colorado for three over the weekend against the Rockies before coming home to play the Diamondbacks in a three-game set.
The team with the second best record in baseball finishes its road trip with three in Arizona and then comes home for another three versus the San Diego Padres.
All signs point to a race that will go down to the wire. It remains to be seen who’ll come out on top but time is running out for the Dodgers.