(East Los Angeles, CA) October 15, 2021 [From The Editor’s Desk]: The stage was set for the 5th and final game of the NLDS series between the So. Cal Dodgers and the No. Cal Giants. At first look at the starting line-up cards, Dodger fans realized that Manager, Dave Roberts had made a game-time decision NOT to start Julio Urias. Instead, he inserted Corey Knebel to open the game hoping to distract Giants’ Manager, Gabe Kapler into thinking twice about his game strategy. It resembled a chess game, and yet it was time for another nail-biting, fan supporting contest between the age-old baseball rivals of the National League competing in our nation’s pastime.
And Roberts wasn’t finished with executing his strategy, for in the 2nd inning, he brought in his mid-game reliever, Brustar Graterol, who had been very successful with the Giants’ batters. After that, everyone knew that the outcome would be to bring in his “Ace”, Julio Urías in the 3rd with the thinking that the least amount of pitches would be better than throwing more. More brilliant managing shown by the much-accomplished and well-respected, Dave Roberts!
When Roberts explained his maneuver, it made all the sense in the world as the Giants were stacked with an abundance of right handed hitters in their starting line-up. The sports logic defended Roberts as he asked R-H/Knebel to start the game, then come in with R-H/Graterol and limit the Giants to scoreless efforts for their stretches. After Graterol’s excellent outing, Roberts brought in his “Ace” Urías, asking him to go strong for the middle innings and if he faltered, he still had the likes Treinen, Jansen, and Kelly, waiting in the bullpen. Throw in Max Scherzer and there was the overwhelming proof that Roberts had the proven and veteran arms to make it successfully happen for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew.
(Game Recap): And down the stretch they came…with the Dodgers drawing first blood in the 6th inning when the Dodgers “hot” hitting machine, #50 Mookie Betts singled to left, stole 2B cleanly, and then came home on an opposite field double to left field by Corey Seager. Dodger fans inside Oracle Park could be heard quite loudly, urging the Dodgers to keep the inning alive and pleading with them to score more for insurance runs. But that was the extent of the rally. Dodgers 1, Giants 0.A big note about Mookie’s at-bats. This appearance marked his going (3-3) at this point in the game. He ended up going (4-4) while causing Mgr. Gabe Kapler some concerns and problems when it came time for Mookie to hit.
In their half of the 6th, the Giants answered back with a 430 ft. solo home run blast to deep centerfold by Darin Ruf, tying the score with strong swing of his bat, making it a (1-1) ball game. From there, it was scoreless until the 9th when the rally began with Justin Turner being hit by a pitch. Gavin Lux followed that with a single moving Turner to 2B. Then in that magical “Big Blue” rally moment, Cody Bellinger strode up to the plate and delivered another big time play when he cleanly singled right, driving in the go-ahead run that every Dodgers fan was hoping and praying for. Dodgers 2, Giants 1.. And to the bottom of the 9th they went.
Mad Max Scherzer then dominantly took the mound and was thoroughly pumped up for the challenge. But prior to that, huge props must be given to Blake Treinen in the 7th, and “The Closer,” Kenley Jansen, in the 8th for doing their parts to limit the hitting skills of the Giants. Each was perfect in their outing, with no runs being allowed.
Scherzer opened the frame when he faced Brandon Crawford and got him to line out to Taylor in left. Kris Bryant got aboard on a fielding error by Justin Turner just beyond the 3B bag. Giant fans erupted with hope. Dodger fans got concerned but not that much. LaMont Wade, Jr. was sent in to pinch-hit and was struck out looking. 2-out and 1-on. The last batter to face Scherzer was Wilmer Flores, and with a two-strike count on hm, he bit on a hard slider down and a little away, and appeared to have checked his swing, but 1st base umpire..Gabe Morales answered the appeal by c/Will Smith, and demonstrably signaled yes, that he had broken his wrists and went around for the strikeout to end the game.
And with that very final play, this historic first-ever NLDS playoff encounter between the Giants and the Dodgers came to another incredible end. There was joy forever in Dodgers Nation and continues to be so until the Dodgers are eliminated from the rest of the playoffs, if and when that should occur. But right now, it’s Mr. Momentum who’s on their side. Let’s keep the pride and joy spirit alive and well. Last thought…Fans, please remember you can make plans to attend the “Viewing Party” this weekend at the Stadium. Tickets are still available, so please don’t wait too long to make your plans.
Now, it’s on to Atlanta, GA for the start of the 2021 NLCS this Saturday. Check your listings for coverage of this scheduled seven game series. “Let’s Go Dodgers!”