Los Angeles Dodgers starter Dustin May delivers a pitch to the San Francisco Giants line up in the bottom of the first inning at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Fri Sep 16, 2022 (AP News photo)
Los Angeles (99-44). 5. 9. 0
San Francisco (69-75). 0. 2. 1
Friday, September 16, 2022
By Lewis Rubman
SAN FRANCISCO–The Los Angeles Dodgers rode into town as the 2022 National League Western Division champions, winningest team in major league baseball at 98-44. You’d think they wouldn’t sweat the details, like a three game series against the 69-74 Giants.
You’d be partially right, but remember that the 2021 Giants, with 107 wins, NL West champions and the winningest team in all of MLB, were stopped in their tracks by the wild card Dodgers. The fugitives from Brooklyn still need to secure the home team advantage in the subsequent rounds of baseball’s bizantine postseason playoff tournament. They arrived in San Francisco with a magic number of 10 to achieve that goal in the NL playoffs.
When the dust had settled. the Dodgers had validated their championship qualities, using four pitchers to shut the Giants out on two hits, solidly defeating the home team 5-0. For their starter in tonight’s opening game of the series, the Dodgers chose right hander Dustin May, who has pitched in five postseason games, two as a starter, for a total of 14 innings two of his relief appearances were in the 2020 World Series.
His postseason record of 1-0, 3.86 isn’t particularly impressive, but his having one at all offsets his poor 2022 numbers of 1-2, 4.29. In any case, those figures are deceptive. The 24 year old May didn’t throw a pitch in the big leagues this year until August 20; he’d been on the IL for about a year and had just recovered from Tommy John surgery.
Even if his teammates were catching their breath while trying to stay sharp and position themselves for the playoff push, he’s effectively just gotten past spring training. Mid September is late March or early April for May.
He exceeded everyone’s expectations. throwing five innings of near perfect baseball. He faced the minimum number of batters possible over that span and allowed only one base runner, Brandon Crawford, who walked in the second frame and quickly was eliminated in an around the horn double play. May threw 69 pitches, 40 for strikes and struck out four. The well deserved win evened Mays’ won-lost record at 2-2 and reduced his earned run average to 3.46.
The Giants, trying to finish the year above .500 and maybe act as spoilers in the Dodgers’ hopes to advance deep into the postseason, sent Logan Webb, who might be their best young pitcher, to the mound, toting a 13-8, 2.88 record for the season and numbers of 3-1, 2.64 record in his eight starts against the Dodgers, with him.
Those last figures include his playoff performances. When he left after four innings of hard labor, the Giants were behind, 4-0. Webb had thrown 90 pitches, 33 of them balls. The Dodgers had gotten seven hits off him, and all four of their tallies were earned. He issued two free passes and unleashed one wild pitch. He was charged with the loss after a lackluster performance that left him with 13-9 while his ERA rose to 3.02.
The Dodgers jumped in front early on a leadoff double by Max Muncy in the top of the second. He went to third on Justin Turner’s productive ground out to second and scored on a fielder’s choice when All or Nothing At All Joey Gallo hit a grounder to Wilmer Flores at first and Joey Bart couldn’t handle the throw home.
One more costly hidden error by the Giants’ defence. The scorer’s decision was correct, but Flores’s footwork here and on an earlier play in the first frame was awkward when cleaner execution might have resulted in an out.
Los Angeles overcame the Curse of the Leadoff Double again in the fourth when Justin Turner whacked his 34th two bagger of the year into left field. Turner moved up a base on Gallo’s grounder to first and trotted home on Taylor’s RBI single to center.
Taylor, in turn, moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch to Bellinger, whose single to center brought Taylor home with LA’s third tally. Bellinger stole second with Trea Turner at bat. That plate appearance culminated in an RBI single to center that increased the Dodger’s margin to 4-0.
It also gave Turner the chase to steal his 25th base of the season, and he took advantage of the opportunity. That was LA’s fourth stolen base in four innings of play. When Will Smith grounded into a 5-4 force out of Freeman, it spelled the end of Logan’s mound tenure.
Portslideer Thomas Szapucki replaced him in the top of the fifth and held the visitors to Justin Turner’s 35th double of the season. Szapucki stuck around to pitch a perfect sixth and retire the first batter he faced in the top of the seventh before passing the torch to Luis Ortiz.
Alex Vesia relieved May after the Dodgers’ starter had hurled five innings of no-hit ball. The left handed reliever allowed the Giants their first safety, a weak etwo out grounder to second that allowed Joey Bart to reach first.
Ortiz retired the Dodgers to a conga beat (1,2,3, kick) in the top of both the seventh and eighth frames.
Caleb Ferguson faced the Giants in their half of the seventh. He gave up San Francisco’s first hit worthy of the name, a two out line drive single to center by David Villar. Crawford made things interesting by sending Bellinger to the wall to corral the fly he almost hit into the Giants’ bullpen. Phil Bickford set the Giants down in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Cole Waites tried to keep the hosts within striking distance of their guests in the top of the ninth. He almost pulled it off, in spite of a leadoff walk to Bellinger, who also stole second. Waites retired Betts and Trea Turner while Bellinger stayed put at second.
But Freeman singled him home. LA slugging first baseman was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double, González to Flores (now playing second), but Los Angeles and Bickford went into the bottom of the ninth leading 5-0.
The Giants went gently into the good night, going down in order.
Tomorrow’s game is scheduled to start at 6:05. Before the game, Hunter Pence’s plaque will become the 55th Giant on the team’s Wall of Fame. After that, it’ll be southpaw Julio Urías (16-7, 2.30) will try to give LA its 100th win of the season. His opposite number has not yet been announced.