After 2,535 games over 131 years, two of Major League Baseball’s fiercest rivals, the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, will meet for the first time in a playoff game on Friday.
The Dodgers, current World Series monarchs, will visit the Giants, the season’s winningest team, to open this NL divisional series to the best of five games.
The beginnings of this epic rivalry date back to 1890 when they were both clubs in New York, before moving to the state of California in 1957 and continuing their rivalry until this season, in which the Giants beat the Dodgers by one game to conquer. the West division of the National League.
With the victory of the Dodgers against St. Louis on Wednesday, which gave them the wild card ticket, the stage was set for this unprecedented duel.
The Giants, with 107 victories this season, and the Dodgers, with 106, will be the protagonists of the series that pairs the most winning clubs in the history of the playoffs.
"It’s what baseball wants: Giants vs. Dodgers", emphasized the manager of the Dodgers, Dave Roberts. "One of the best rivalries in sport. And it’s happening".
The two franchises have added four World Series titles and six league crowns since 2010.
Only twice had a defending champion faced the best team of the regular season in the divisional round, and both times the reigning World Series winners prevailed.
The Giants won the season series 10-9 to gain a home court advantage in this playoff matchup and snap a streak of eight straight division titles for the Dodgers.
"You could say that we are the two best teams in baseball and have been throughout the year."Roberts said.
The Dodgers are trying to become the first team to repeat as World Series champion since the New York Yankees grabbed three trophies in a row between 1998 and 2000.
But there is no team that would like to dethrone the Dodgers more than the Giants, whose only titles since leaving New York were in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
"When the postseason rolls around, there’s no question the intensity is there"said Giants wide receiver Buster Posey. "But there is no doubt that (it is) greater if we play against them".
As league and division rivals, the Giants and Dodgers had no chance to meet in the postseason until the playoffs were extended in 1995. Fate continued to deny them a match for the next half century, a wait that will end on Friday.
"They have been a great team. They won the division. They beat us. Now we have the opportunity to take them where we want. That’s winning the postseason"said Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer.
"We are going to need absolutely everything from us to win this series. So here we go. Let’s go play baseball"Scherzer predicted.
The Dodgers started the season as favorites to revalidate the title with a payroll of $ 270 million before even adding figures like Scherzer and Trea Turner.
The Giants, on the other hand, have been one of the big upsets of the season, winning their first division title since 2012 with a franchise-record of 241 home runs.
Each club goes into the collision with an injured first baseman: Brandon Belt (broken left thumb) for the Giants and Max Muncy (left elbow) for the Dodgers.
Roberts and Giants manager Gabe Kapler were teammates on the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox and built their rosters in similar ways. "There is a lot of familiarity"Roberts admitted. "What makes it fun, even more challenging".