By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–Wednesday night was a stark reminder that the Giants face a daunting task in attempting to unseat the World Champion Dodgers.
Walker Buehler set the tone, pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, as the Dodgers cruised to a 8-0 win over the Giants. The Giants remain two games ahead of their rival atop the NL West, with four remaining meetings between the clubs, all at Oracle Park.
Buehler has faced the Giants five times this season, and gone 3-0 with a 0.79 ERA. He’s been dominant, the clear counterpoint to all the upheaval the Dodgers have experienced with their lineup and starting rotation.
“We all know how good he is in October,” manager Dave Roberts said. “The challenge for him, the next level, was to put it together in the regular season. He’s done that to this point. To throw 100 pitches and go deep into games with the consistency, it’s been a big bonus considering all that we’ve had to go through this year.”
“He doesn’t give in much,” Wilmer Flores said of Buehler. “He hasn’t made many mistakes. I got only one mistake, and it was a fly ball. When you’re facing pitchers like that, you have to be ready for that mistake. If you miss it, it’s going to be a long game.”
Anthony DeSclafani struggled for the Giants, allowing four runs in the first three innings, and saw his personal record against the Dodgers fall to 1-8. DeSclafani was challenged from the early stages, allowing six hits while recording just eight outs before manager Gabe Kapler lifted his starter.
The Dodgers added three runs in the seventh, and struggling slugger Clay Bellinger, hitting just .165, homered in the eighth to complete the scoring.
The Giants had registered three, consecutive wins against the Dodgers, all with the winning push coming in the ninth inning. The stretch troubled the Dodgers, especially Roberts, who was ejected in the ninth inning of the first two losses. Having the season series evened at 7-7 was quite shocking to the Dodgers as well after they won the first four meetings, and six of the first nine. A response was likely, and Buehler and a patient group of hitters at the top of the Los Angeles lineup set the tone for a lopsided result.
Buster Posey was dinged by a foul ball behind the plate in the third inning, and was removed from the game in the fourth with concerns of a concussion, although all indications were the move was precautionary. Posey wasn’t expected to be in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale, but he will be evaluated for his availability on Friday when the Astros come to Oracle Park.
Brandon Crawford is expected to come off the injured list and start at shortstop on Thursday, welcome news for the Giants who are also anticipating the return of Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Tommy LaStella to bolster a limited infield.
With the trade deadline on Friday, the Giants are likely to examine their starting rotation closely, especially after DeSclafani’s bad outing and his struggles against the Dodgers. Speculation continues that Washington’s Max Scherzer is among the Giants’ targets and that Scherzer may be willing to waive his no-trade clause to join a contender in San Francisco.
On Thursday, the Giants will turn to Johnny Cueto in a veteran matchup with David Price. The duo have combined to win nearly 300 games in their careers with Price registering 154 wins.