Everyone was expecting a memorable playoff series between the Dodgers and the Giants, teams with more than a century of bitter rivalry. Expectations were met.
Any result other than a fifth game would have disappointed the fans.
But here it is: San Francisco, with 107 victories in the regular season and monarch of the West Division of the National League, is measured in October with Los Angeles, champion of the last World Series and winner in 106 games of the season.
The winner will play the Old Circuit Championship Series against Atlanta starting Saturday.
The duel between the Dodgers and the Giants returns to Oracle Park in San Francisco on Thursday, two days after Los Angeles avoided elimination by winning 7-2 at home.
San Francisco third baseman Evan Longoria would have preferred a seven-game-max series to this shorter divisional series to determine which of the fierce rivals will be left to mull over a very painful loss all winter.
“I feel like this series could mark a time when baseball would have to think about reshaping the way the playoffs are conducted. Teams with 106 and 107 wins don’t look like rivals for a division series, ”Longoria said the week before, before his home run gave the Giants a 1-0 win in Game 3.
“I just feel like there are two teams that have won a lot of games, and therefore it seems too early for us to meet.”
Mookie Betts and Los Angeles have played several do-or-die games over the past few seasons.
“We have been very successful here and in the last four, five, six years or more. I think it’s a big thing, considering there are teams that think, ‘We want to get there,’ and others who say, ‘We’ll be disappointed if we don’t get there,’ “Betts said.
It will be the 24th game of the season between these talented clubs at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. It’s the number worn by that Hall of Fame player.
San Francisco has won 12 games and Los Angeles 11.
And now, these teams that began to meet in 1884 and have won 109 times each in the year, are facing each other for all or nothing.
“I think it’s appropriate,” Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler said.
Logan Webb, who won the first game with a brilliant job that marked his postseason debut, will take the mound again for the Giants. The Dodgers will turn to Mexican Julio Urías, who achieved 20 wins this season and won the second game of the series.
“At this time of year, you have to face great pitching every night,” warned the Giants catcher. Buster Posey. “And you hope that, when there is some traffic, it will be possible to connect a big hit, because sometimes those opportunities are limited. Hopefully it’s something we can achieve on Thursday. “
In their two wins this series, the Dodgers have scored nine and seven runs. The Giants, for their part, have disallowed the Dodgers’ hitting to win both games.
Webb and two relievers combined to hit a five-hitter last week in Game 1, which San Francisco won 1-0.
“Just like attack, we have to be ready and get good at-bats, score some runs and attack early,” Dodgers catcher Will Smith said. “They know us. We know each other really well, and it’s going to come down to who wants this a little more and who’s ready to do it. “
The two teams share a multi-star history of decisive duels.
In the third game of a playoff for the National League pennant in 1951, Bobby Thompson hit what many consider the most famous home run in history. The “Hit That Resonated Around the World” produced three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the New York Giants beat Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-4 at Polo Grounds.
The franchises had moved west when they played a two-out-of-three series for the NL title in 1962. After beating ace Sandy Koufax in the first game, San Francisco lost one.
Mays ignited a four-run attack in the ninth inning of the third as the Giants won 6-4 in the third at Dodger Stadium.
And almost 60 years later, the teams meet again in a crucial duel.
“This is what baseball wants. I understand that all the other series ended, so we are going to be the only show. If you like sports and have a pulse, you better watch the Dodgers-Giants, “said Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts.