Video Credit: MLB

FSM Essential Recap: Dodgers vs Giants – 2021 NLDS

Los Angeles Dodgers (4-2) |  San Francisco Giants (2-3)


“Listen, if you start worrying about the people in the stands, before too long you’re up in the stands with them.”

– Tommy LaSorda


Game 5:


Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

The National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Giants was every bit as good as promised, with five games of incredibly tense action between MLB’s two best teams. So of course the winner-take-all Game 5 wasn’t decided until the final inning.

Cody Bellinger, in an injury-plagued worst season of his career, has come alive in the postseason, culminating in an RBI single off Giants closer Camilo Doval in the ninth, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 win over the Giants on Thursday night at Oracle Park in San Francisco, punching a ticket for Los Angeles to the NLCS.

The winning rally started with Doval hitting Justin Turner with a pitch with one out. Gavin Lux, making his second straight start in centerfield, singled to right to put two on for Bellinger, who had two hits in 48 at-bats against the Giants during the regular season.

Bellinger in the NLDS had four hits in 15 at-bats, driving in key runs in road wins in Game 2 and Game 5.

As much attention was paid to the Dodgers’ strategy to start the game, using both Corey Knebel and Brusdar Graterol before Julio Urías, L.A.’s pitching was dominant in the series, allowing only 10 runs in five games. But it was how they closed Game 5 that was even more interesting.

After getting four innings out of Urías, Dave Roberts turned to Blake Treinen for the seventh and Kenley Jansen for the eighth, but instead of double switching to get either an extra frame, he left the ninth inning for Max Scherzer, who worked around a Justin Turner error to record the first save of his career.

Scherzer is the fourth Dodgers starting pitcher to record a save to close out a postseason series, joining Bob Welch (1981 NLCS), Clayton Kershaw (2016 NLDS), and Urías (2020 World Series).

The final out was a strikeout of Wilmer Flores, ruled out on a check swing that can only be described as a Ruf call.

The quintet of Walker Buehler, Scherzer, Urías, Jansen, and Treinen pitched 33 of the 44 innings in the series.

Logan Webb was nearly as dominant as he was in Game 1, though the right-hander mixed things up a bit on Thursday. He mixed in his two-seam fastball more often (34 of his 106 pitches, after just 20 sinkers last Friday), and kept the Dodgers off balance yet again, this time for seven innings, with seven strikeouts.

Webb induced four groundouts back to himself in Game 5, just like he did in Game 1.


Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: John Hefti/AP

Mookie Betts had the first three hits against Webb on Thursday, and after his sixth-inning single he stole second base. That set the stage for Corey Seager, who doubled to left for the game’s first run, and the Dodgers’ only run off Webb in 14⅔ innings this series.

Betts later added a fourth single, hitting .450 (9-for-20) in the NLDS.

San Francisco immediately answered in the bottom of the inning, with patience finally paying off for Darin Ruf. The Giants’ right-handed thumper, starting in left field in this one after playing first base Tuesday, hit rockets into deep flyouts in the first and third inning, with expected batting averages of .530 and .500. But on a sixth consecutive fastball from Urías in the sixth, Ruf didn’t give any fielder a chance to catch his latest drive, a 110.1-mph bomb hit 458 feet, well over the centerfield wall to tie things up.

That, in the 42nd inning of the NLDS, was the first time in the series a lead was relinquished.

In all, the NLDS was five games full of nervous energy, between a team that won 107 games in the regular season and another that won 106.

After April 28, the Dodgers spent 155 of the final 158 days of the regular season trailing the Giants. Los Angeles spent only one day, September 1, all along atop the NL West during that span. The Dodgers lost the first and third games of this NLDS, never leading in the series until the final out.

Now, they can take a breath and move on, as the Dodgers have finally, fully passed the Giants.


Game 5 Boxscore:


WP: Kenley Jansen (2-0)

LP: Camilo Doval (0-1)

SV: Max Scherzer (1)

HR: Darin Ruf (1)


The Dodgers will face the Braves for a second straight postseason, and the third October in the last four years. The NLCS starts on Saturday in Atlanta at 5:07 on TBS.



Game 4:

Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Walker Buehler didn’t earn the win in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, but he did all he could to keep the Dodgers’ season alive. He wasn’t alone in the 7-2 win over the Giants on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, but Buehler justified the Dodgers’ decision to pitch him on three days rest.

After the first two games in San Francisco were split, it was Buehler who brought the idea of pitching on short rest, something he’d never done in his professional career. Down two games to one and facing elimination, that option became more and more appealing, instead of mostly a bullpen game with bulk innings from Tony Gonsolin.

I think taking down as many outs as we can with the best arms available was the original thought,” manager Dave Roberts explained before Game 4.

To be completely honest, there probably wasn’t anything that could have gone on that I would have told him I didn’t want the ball,” Buehler said. “As long as I could walk into the clubhouse, I think I was going to pitch.

The decision was not surprising to those involved in the proceedings.

We’ve got a lot of options, but Walker’s one of the best playoff pitchers I’ve ever seen. He loves the game, he loves the moment,” said reliever Blake Treinen. “This is his time to shine.

He’s just fearless. There ain’t no situation he’s willing to walk away from. I think he almost challenges himself to be in those situations.”

He’s one of the best, if not the best postseason pitcher in baseball. Just the mentality has, he’s got the power, strikeout stuff. He attacks hitters,” said Chris Taylor, who started in left field in Game 4. “He’s exactly who we want out there.”

I figured they would use their best weapon,” said Giants jack of all trades Kris Bryant, who started at his fourth position in four games on Tuesday. “If I was managing, I would too.”

Buehler ran into a little bit of trouble in the second inning, with back-to-back singles by Bryant and LaMonte Wade Jr., and didn’t induce any swinging strikes from his first six batters faced. But he got two from Evan Longoria in striking him out, then ended the threat on a soft liner from Mike Yastrzemski.

Only three more batters reached base against Buehler, but a Longoria single and Steven Duggar walk were bunched together in the fifth, giving the Giants a scoring threat. With Buehler at 71 pitches, having recorded 13 outs and gone two full times through the batting order, his night was done.

For comparison, Gonsolin lasted at least 4⅓ innings only five times in his 15 regular-season games this season, all on at least four days rest.

Joe Kelly followed and allowed a single to load the bases, but induced two groundouts to end the inning with one run scored, and a three-run lead. The run was charged to Buehler’s ledger, but that was all for the right-hander, who struck out four and lowered his career postseason ERA to 2.50 in 13 starts.

Why he’s successful in the postseason, I think he just has a way of controlling his heartbeat, and just making pitches,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of our whole thing, go as hard as you can for as long as you can, and we’ll have somebody behind you.

After Buehler, the Dodgers used five pitchers, including Blake Treinen for four outs in the seventh and eighth innings. They improved to 9-4 in elimination games under Roberts, dating back to 2016, including winning their last five such contests.

They’ll have to extend that streak to six on Thursday to keep their season going.

We’re at our best when our backs are against the wall, and we’ve shown that,” Taylor said. “We understand that we still control our own destiny.


Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

It helped that the Dodgers offense threatened all night. They scored single runs in the first and second inning, a welcome change after getting shut out twice in the first three games of the series.

On Monday the Dodgers didn’t get their fifth hit until the 26th batter of the game, in the seventh inning. In Game 4 things came much quicker against Anthony DeScalafani, how allowed five hits to his 10 batters faced.

A double by Trea Turner scored Corey Seager in the first, then consecutive singles by Gavin Lux and Cody Bellinger to open the second were cashed in by a Chris Taylor sacrifice fly. The Dodgers scored two runs and left a pair of runners in scoring position in those two innings, but they also chased DeSclafani after just five outs, likely ending a rough matchup for him this season.

DeSclafani started against the Dodgers seven times in 2021, allowing a 7.53 ERA and a .319/.393/.504 batting line. Against every other team, in 25 starts, DeSclafani had a sparkling 2.37 ERA with opponents hitting just .209/.251/.329.

Needing to cover 19 outs to get through the eighth innings, the Giants used seven of their eight active relievers in Game 4, everyone except Camilo Doval.

Mookie Betts hit a two-run home run off Jarlin Garcia in the fourth inning, and Gavin Lux reached base four times with two hits and two walks in his first playoff start in centerfield.

The Dodgers tacked on a run in the fifth and got a two-run homer from Will Smith in the eighth, helping to salve the sting of leaving eight runners in scoring position, including at least one in each of the first six innings.

Perhaps it’s fitting that with three League Championship Series participants already identified, the two best teams in baseball get the stage to themselves for one more game. It was a weird path to get here, but Thursday will feature the 109-win Dodgers and the 109-win Giants battling for a trip to the NLCS.

I will count on our team, any time, any place. That’s what makes baseball fun,” said Treinen.I mean, it’s never supposed to be easy. Very teams have just waltzed through the playoffs.


Box 4 Boxscore:


WP: Joe Kelly (1-0)

LP: Anthony DeSclafani (0-1)

HR: Mookie Betts (1), Will Smith (2)


Wednesday is an off day, with both teams traveling to San Francisco. Game 5 to decide the NLDS is Thursday night at 6:07 on TBS. Julio Urías will be starting for the Dodgers against Logan Webb.



Game 3:

Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

A group effort from the pitching staff and excellent Giants defense negated a strong outing by Max Scherzer, giving San Francisco the NLDS edge with a 1-0 win in Game 3 on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

San Francisco has two shutouts in three games in the NLDS, the first time the Dodgers have been shut out twice in the same series since the 2013 NLCS.

The Dodgers managed just five total hits against four Giants pitchers. Two of the hits were by Albert Pujols, who got the start at first base against left-hander Alex Wood. Those were the only two hits off Wood in 4⅔ innings.

In only three innings did the Dodgers put runners in scoring position. The best chance at a run came in the seventh with a pair of one-out singles off right-handed submariner Tyler Rogers.

Austin Barnes was summoned to pinch-hit against Rogers, who has reverse splits. Giants manager Gabe Kapler countered with the left-handed Jake McGee. With only left-handed bats — Cody Bellinger, Matt Beaty, Gavin Lux — available off the bench, Dave Roberts stuck with Barnes, who struck out on three pitches for the second out.

Mookie Betts followed with a 100.4-mph line drive that would have likely scored the tying were it not for Brandon Crawford’s excellent leaping catch at shortstop to end the frame.

Rookie closer Camilo Doval ran through the heart of the Dodgers order in the eighth inning, then finished things off in the ninth for his first career postseason save, retiring all six batters he faced.


Game 3 Boxscore:


WP: Tyler Rogers (1-0)

LP: Max Scherzer (0-1)

SV: Camilo Doval (1)

HR: Evan Longoria (1)


The Dodgers try to stay alive in Game 4 of the NLDS on Tuesday at 6:07 on TBS. The Dodgers will start Walker Buehler while Anthony DeSclafani will start Game 4 for the Giants.



Game 2:


Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: Robert Gauthier/LA Times

We learned a few things in Saturday’s Game 2 of the National League Division Series. First, one loss isn’t enough to bury a team, let alone one with triple-digit victories. Second, some decisions work out and some don’t. The Dodgers had far more of the former to beat the Giants 9-2 at Oracle Park in San Francisco, pulling even in the NLDS.

Among the many traits that earn Dave Roberts accolades as a manager is that he will constantly go to bat for his players. On Saturday, three of the players he specifically asked to go to bat for his team came through in key spots.

Chris Taylor got his first start of the postseason, and doubled in his first at-bat, and later walked, singled, and scored twice. To get Taylor in the lineup, Cody Bellinger was moved to first, negating the bulk of his value (excellent centerfield defense) while adding a struggling bat to the lineup.

For me, it’s not even about the swing mechanics right now. It’s about approach and executing a plan and getting him in the zone,” Roberts told reporters in San Francisco before the game. “So for me, I’m looking for guys to use a big part of the field and take good at-bats. That’s it.”

Bellinger did just that, jumping on a first-pitch fastball over the plate, driving the ball to nearly the deepest part of the ballpark in centerfield for a two-run double that helped break the game open in the sixth.

AJ Pollock was hitless in seven at-bats this postseason, with four strikeouts and a walk, when he came to the plate later in the sixth. Before the game, Roberts was asked if he thought about swapping in the left-handed Gavin Lux after a hot September stretch for the right-handed Pollock.


Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: Lachlan Cunningham/MLB Photos/Getty Images

To kind of default to a two-week sample, I just don’t — I just felt that the body of work should win out,Roberts said.

That faith paid off with a double by Pollock, driving in another two runs for a 6-1 lead. He later singled.

The bottom three spots in the Dodgers’ lineup on Saturday each drove in two runs, including a pinch-hit RBI single by Game 1 starter Matt Beaty in the eighth.

After Taylor immediately capitalized on his playing time with a double in the second inning, it took an unusual circumstance for the Dodgers to score their first runs of the series. With two outs and a 2-0 count on the eighth hitter Pollock, Giants manager Gabe Kapler intentionally walked the hitter (the impressive body of work Roberts alluded to), bringing up the pitcher Urías, who tied for the lead among National League pitchers with nine runs batted in, but only hit .203/.217/.237.

Despite the matchup advantage tilted in San Francisco’s favor, Urías lined a single to right field for the game’s first run, and the Dodgers’ first hit with a runner on base in the NLDS. Pollock advanced to third on the hit, and scored on a single by Mookie Betts, even cashing in the free pass as well.

Though the game was only 2-0, the Dodgers were making Kevin Gausman work, to the tune of 37 pitches through two innings. Kapler had Tommy La Stella in the on-deck circle with a runner on third base and one out prepared to pinch-hit for Gausman. But after Donovan Solano cut San Francisco’s deficit in half with a sacrifice fly, Gausman stayed in, to the Giants’ benefit.

After the Betts RBI single in the second, Gausman retired 10 straight batters, and was through five innings on 74 pitches, with the score 2-1 Dodgers.

With Solano batting to lead off the fifth, this time it was Mike Yastrzemski in the on-deck circle for Gausman, but after an out, Gausman was again allowed to hit.


Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: Lachlan Cunningham/MLB Photos/Getty Images

This time the Dodgers made them pay, with a double by Trea Turner and a one-out walk by Will Smith to chase Gausman three batters into the sixth inning. That brought in Dominic Leone in relief and set the stage for Bellinger and Pollock to widen the Dodgers advantage.

With a five-run advantage and with an off day looming and a rested bullpen, Roberts was aggressive in pulling Urías after just five innings and 72 pitches, and retiring 12 of his last 13 batters faced. The Urías odometer after Saturday’s start is 190⅔ innings this season, 63 more than his previous high, set in 2016.

More insurance, including a home run by Smith, allowed the Dodgers to back off the higher-leverage relievers after Joe Kelly and Corey Knebel were used, meaning the back end of the bullpen will be even more rested heading into Monday and Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Urías might even be used in relief if needed later in this series.

He’ll be alive later in the series, I’m sure,” Roberts said after the game.

The NLDS is now best-of-three.


Game 3 Boxscore:


WP: Julio Urías (1-0)

LP: Kevin Gausman (0-1)

HR: Will Smith (1)



The two teams traveled to Los Angeles on Sunday’s off day. Max Scherzer gets the start for the Dodgers in Game 3  with the Giants starting Alex Wood. Monday’s first pitch is scheduled for 6:37 and can be seen on TBS.



Game 1:


Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Logan Webb dominated in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, keeping the Giants in a spot they’ve been familiar with for most of the season: ahead of the Dodgers. San Francisco took the first game of the best-of-five series, 4-0, behind their 24-year-old ace.

The Dodgers were shutout for the first time in 33 postseason games, dating back to Game 3 of the 2018 NLCS.

Webb confounded the Dodgers with a slew of changeups and sliders, accounting for 67 of his 92 pitches (72.8 percent), and why not? He induced 19 swinging strikes on those pitches alone, and 21 in all. Webb struck out 10 — five finished by the slider, four by the changeup — keeping the Dodgers off-balance all night.

In addition to the strikeouts, Webb induced five grounders back to the pitcher. That was the recipe for scoreless baseball into the eighth inning.

To be quite honest, we didn’t make adjustments,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters. “We chased a lot, more than we should have. If you don’t make adjustments, they’re going to keep going to the well.

I thought we had the same club all night long, and that was the driver.”


Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: D. Ross Cameron/USA TODAY Sports

Webb in four 2021 starts against the Dodgers has a 1.52 ERA with 27 strikeouts and four walks in 23⅔ innings.

The Dodgers managed five hits off Webb on Friday, including doubles by Corey Seager and Will Smith, but everyone was stranded, thanks to Los Angeles going hitless in 11 at-bats with runners on base.

Both teams had similar starts to the first inning: leadoff hitter reached, runner on second with one out, and a runner on third with two outs. Justin Turner grounded a ball off pitcher Webb’s foot, but not far enough away to reach base, keeping the Dodgers scoreless in the opening frame.

It didn’t look like Buster Posey would even get the chance in the bottom of the inning, with Buehler staying away on his first three pitches to the cleanup hitter. But the fourth pitch caught enough of the plate for Posey to drive a rocket over the high wall in right field, his two-run home run landing in McCovey Cove on a bounce.


Dodgers vs Giants
Photo Credit: Getty Images

It’s the first extra-base hit Buehler has ever allowed on a 3-0 count in either the regular or postseason. In previous plate appearances that ended on a 3-0 pitch against Buehler, hitters had one single in five at-bats, and 26 walks.

Buehler allowed only four singles after the Posey home run through the next five innings, and none of those Giants advanced past first base. But Kris Bryant pulled a full-count pitch over the wall in the seventh to give San Francisco some insurance.

It was the first time in his last 10 postseason starts Buehler allowed more than two runs, and his career postseason start (out of 12) allowing two home runs.

Brandon Crawford another insurance run with a solo shot off Alex Vesia in the eighth. The Giants, who led the National League with 241 home runs during the regular season, hit three in Game 1 of the NLDS.

Now, the Dodgers find themselves in a position they were in for 147 different days during the regular season: trailing the Giants.


Game 1 Boxscore:


WP: Logan Webb (1-0)

LP: Walker Buehler (0-1)

HR: Buster Posey (1), Kris Bryant (1), Brandon Crawford (1)


The Dodgers take on the Giants in Game 2 of the NLDS later today. Julio Urías starts for the Dodgers, with right-hander Kevin Gausman on the mound for the Giants. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:07 and can be seen on TBS.

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– Joe Arrigo

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