Flores, bullpen bail Giants out of an early hole in 6-4 win over the Mariners

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Forgotten in the Giants’ chaotic week of uncertainty and inactivity: the team’s bullpen is showing improvement and becoming a reliable force.

Trailing 4-1 after two innings, and reeling from starting pitcher Tyler Anderson’s ejection, and Mike Yastrzemski’s calf injury, just one of the things on manager Gabe Kapler’s wish list was scoreless innings from his relievers.

When it was all done, Kapler got seven of them, and a huge, offensive rally to squeeze past the Mariners, 6-4. Anderson, who drew Kapler’s ire for his ejection, received a huge reprieve as well.

“We were put in a really bad situation because of me, and our guys fought, and that was really great,” Anderson said . “I felt really terrible inside leaving them out to dry like that. But to see everybody step up and have big performances, that was huge for the team.”

Wandy Peralta pitched the third, fourth and fifth innings in the lengthiest and most effective outing of his big league career. Peralta threw 49 pitches while maintaining his velocity throughout, allowing no hits, one walk while striking out three. The reliever’s 207th big league appearance came and went without a hold or a win–or a change on the scoreboard–but it definitely made an impression.

“As tough as (Anderson’s ejection) was, it was equally rewarding, and in some ways inspiring, to see him come out and give us the length that he did and battle. He gave us a chance to climb back into the game,” Kapler said of Peralta.

Rico Garcia, Tony Watson, Tyler Rogers and Sam Selman followed Peralta, giving the Giants a scoreless frame each. None had it easy in terms of numbers of pitches thrown, but the strikeouts piled up. The Giants recorded 12 on Thursday, and 29 strikeouts in the two-game series.

Evan Longoria’s RBI single kicked off the Giants’ comeback in the sixth. Luis Basabe, the rookie inserted into the game when Yastrzemski departed, gained his first big league hit and scored for the first time on Longoria’s hit. Later in the inning, Brandon Crawford’s sacrifice fly scored Wilmer Flores and the Giants trailed by one, 4-3.

In the seventh, Flores tripled home a pair to give the Giants the lead, and Alex Dickerson’s run-scoring, sacrifice fly gave the Giants some insurance.

The Mariners dropped all four games with the Giants by an aggregate score of 31-13. Playing all four in San Francisco didn’t help, neither did the team’s offense which stalled at critical junctures.

“The Giants had our number this year,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I can’t really put my finger on it. They swung the bats very, very well against us and we struggled to close out innings against them.”

The win was the Giants 10th in their last 15 outings, a sign of team’s ability to stay locked in despite the team’s just completed week long odyssey which resulted in three, consecutive losses and confinement in two hotels. Now, they’ll finish the season with 11 games in 10 days, first in Oakland against the A’s then the final eight at Oracle Park against the Rockies and Padres.

The Giants are above .500 at 25-24 and the Rockies’ loss to the Dodgers Thursday night increased the Giants lead to three games in the important race to finish third in the NL West. The two other third place clubs in the National League–the Phillies and the Cardinals–also lost on Thursday enhancing the possibility that the Giants could finish seventh in the playoff stack and avoid the Dodgers in the postseason’s opening round.

Giants acclimate quickly as Oracle Park visitors, whip the Mariners, 9-3

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The Giants’ offense this season has shown less pop when they’re the visitors than it has when they play at Oracle Park.

Following that equation, Wednesday’s return to McCovey Cove was just what the Giants needed to get things rolling–on the road.

With the Mariners the designated home team for the game originally scheduled for Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, but moved due to poor air quality enveloping the Northwest, the Giants didn’t assume a secondary role as the visiting team. Batting first in each inning, the Giants immediately made themselves at home by blasting to an 8-0 lead midway through the fourth inning, then cruising to a 9-3 win.

Give the Giants the win, and bonus points for improvisation, according to manager Gabe Kapler.

“We knew there would be situations we haven’t had to deal with in Major League seasons past,” Kapler said. “We have to be good within the construct of whatever the season hands us.”

“It’s definitely a lot easier to deal with this stuff when you’re at your own place,” Brandon Belt said. “It’s definitely a lot more comfortable here for us. We get to go to our own house or whatever it may be. We get to use our own facilities when we come to the ballpark. I think that definitely plays a role.”

The first 31 games of this unusual season went off as planned. Since then, the Giants have experienced it all: social activism, virus outbreaks–and false positive tests–and now poor air quality due to the plethora of wildfires. And the adjustments weren’t initial successes: the Giants were listless in dropping hastily-scheduled doubleheaders to the Dodgers and Padres. But this time, they were ready, and their home park helped in that regard.

Belt, Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford each homered in the win, and Crawford added two doubles to his big night, part of the team’s 15-hit parade, seven of those for extra bases. Seattle starter Ljay Newsome was hit hard, allowing eight hits and eight runs– five of which were earned.

Giants’ starter Drew Smyly recorded the first 11 outs–eight via strikeout–in an abbreviated appearance, his first start since landing on the injured list August 1 with a sprained finger. The short outing opened the door for Trevor Cahill, who picked up the win by pitching two innings in relief.

Smyly and six Giants relievers piled up 17 strikeouts, a real measure of the misery suffered by the Mariners, who needed a win to boost their postseason aspirations. Instead the Giants got that win, along with a Rockies loss (to the A’s, 3-1) to get them back to .500 with 12 games remaining.

The Giants returned home having played just three of six scheduled games, losing all three. The silver lining is all three cancelled games are late additions to the Oracle Park schedule, and part of the finishing kick that has the Giants in the Bay Area for the last 13 games of the regular season.

Finishing Kick: Giants hope conclusion of their schedule carries them to the postseason

By Morris Phillips

Alex Dickerson’s wife is expecting the couple’s first child any day now. Complicating matters, his positive COVID test shut the Giants down Friday and Saturday as follow up testing procedures exercised the utmost caution for both the Giants and the Padres. At some point, Dickerson allowed the Giants to release his name, connecting him to the previously anonymous test within the team’s traveling party.

Then a false report printed by the USA Today claiming Dickerson contracted the virus from a family member while in San Diego (a meet up that is prohibited by the strict rules instituted by MLB for traveling clubs) caused the player–and his wife–a myriad of issues.

“When you’re dealing with pregnancy and COVID-19, it is not a good thing to make the assumption that I came in and went and broke protocol and saw family and friends when I’m only permitted to see my wife and she is the only person I saw, and she has been quarantining and on bed rest,” Dickerson said. “It caused a lot of problems, a lot of hate to come towards you and it was kind of unwarranted.”

The Giants had benefitted tremendously from avoiding issues and disruptions from the virus. Just maintaining their schedule as written was big, for them and the rest of the NL West. After all, makeup doubleheaders–regardless of the reduced length in innings–aren’t momentum builders.

That Dickerson’s positive test morphed into a false positive with no other positive tests was frustrating as well. The conclusion? Being a big league club on the road in 2020 isn’t the best. Nine of the 15 National League clubs have losing road records. Isolation and testing are a big contributor to that.

So as the Giants settle into their Seattle hotel on Monday night, two things stick out: the Mariners spent a day/night in the smoke-filled air on Monday, splitting a pair of makeup contests with the A’s. That’s 14 innings for the hosts and none for the Giants, who were idle. Even bigger, with 13 games remaining, these two will be the last two outside the Bay Area involving a hotel and the stringent protocols.

Starting Friday, the Giants play three games in Oakland, then eight at Oracle Park to end the regular season.

That schedule may be enough to keep the Giants from losing their grip on the eighth and final playoff spot, and possibly sending them to Dodgers Stadium for a best of three-game series that would generate a great deal of interest. It also would be their first postseason berth since 2016.

The Giants are 14-9 at home, while averaging better than five runs per game. They’ve struggled with the A’s and the Padres, but might be poised to take advantage of the Rockies.

Lynn, Rangers stymie the A’s, 6-3, in series finale

By Morris Phillips

The A’s are having a great season, but they didn’t have a great afternoon.

Texas’ Lance Lynn had a lot to do with that difference. But the A’s can still envision a triumphant return in October to the Rangers’ new ballpark for an unconventional World Series.

Lynn retired 17 batters in a row an pitched into the seventh inning of the Rangers 6-3 win that earned them a split of the four-game series. Lynn was dominant in spots, fortunate in some others, as he struck out 10, walked two, and allowed just one hit in the first six innings.

“They are a good team,” Lynn said of the A’s. “They have a deep lineup. They make you work for things, and today, I was able to kind of counter what they were doing early and get through seven.”

A pair of one-out base hits in the seventh left Lynn vulnerable, but he recovered, striking out Ramon Laureano, then getting a lunging stab of Jonah Heim’s liner from Isiah Kiner-Falefa to preserve a 4-1 lead.

“If that sneaks through, (Lynn’s) potentially out of the game,” manager Bob Melvin said. “That was a key play in the game.”

Jeff Mathis’ two-run homer off Lou Trivino in the bottom of the inning put the game out of reach. The A’s created a bit of uncertainty with single runs in the eighth and ninth, but ultimately couldn’t generate enough offense with only six hits, including Tommy La Stella’s solo shot with the A’s trailing by five.

The Rangers played the 26th game in their new ballpark–winning for just the 13th time–and homered three times in a game there for the first time. While the last place Rangers have broken even at home, their season has self-destructed due to 17 losses in their 21 road contests thus far.

The A’s lead over the second-place Astros is six games with 14 remaining, pending the result of the Astros-Dodgers game Sunday night. And while that might be cause for comfort, the A’s schedule is not. They split a doubleheader on Saturday, and will travel to Seattle for a makeup twinbill on Monday, before they start a two-game set at Colorado on Tuesday. In all the A’s will play 10 games in seven days, their busiest stretch since June 1966.

“It’s all on the road. It’s all lumped together. And not much time, and we’re traveling all over the place to do it. But other teams have done it too,” Melvin said.

Frankie Montas pitched into the sixth inning, but allowed seven hits and four runs, all coming on homers by Derek Dietrich and Rougned Odor. Montas will travel home for the birth of his child before rejoining the team later in the week.

Hopefully, the child birth serves as a reset for Montas, who has seen his ERA balloon from 1.57 to 5.86 since August 8. Montas is next scheduled to face the Giants at the Coliseum over the weekend.

The A’s received some sense of what their postseason will look pending the players association’s approval of the league’s proposal for an expanded playoffs. As the AL West champion, the A’s would host a best-of-three opening round with all three games at the Coliseum. While not the crapshoot of a single wild card game, the brief series likely would be against an experienced playoff opponent in the Indians or Yankees.

If the A’s survive, they would advance to an ALDS in either Los Angeles (Dodgers Stadium) or San Diego (Petco Park) and then an ALCS in Los Angeles.

The League winners would then gather in Arlington for a single site World Series at the brand new Globe Life Field. That series would end no later than October 30.

Giants want the smoke in 10-1 thrashing of the Mariners

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–You’re like a lot of baseball folks, you want to decipher whether the Giants are any good or not.

Here’s some help with that.

After wiping out the Mariners 10-1 on Wednesday night at smoke-shrouded Oracle Park, the Giants have won 15 of 20, after an 8-16 start had them as indistinguished and anonymous as most thought they would be.

Well, it turns out the Giants have a winning identity that centers around consistently smashing baseballs. They’re not just good at it, they’re borderline elite. The Giants are averaging better than five runs a game (6th best in MLB) and they’re 22-11 in games they score four runs or more.

And these aren’t your Uncle Bruce Bochy’s Giants by any stretch either, these Giants hack: in 44 games, they’ve amassed 81 doubles (5th), 12 triples (1st) and 60 home runs (tied for 9th). In an empty, quiet park, the crack of the bat tells the tale. You can hear it, just like you see the water cannons and hear the foghorn when the home runs fly out.

Prime example from Wednesday’s blowout: the game’s scoreless in the third, and Mike Yastrzemski is batting with two runners on, intent to adding to his impressive slash line (.294/.402/.563). Manager Gabe Kapler sets the scene for the 1-2 pitch from Seattle starter Nick Margevicius with baserunners Brandon Crawford on second and Joey Bart on third.

“It’s just a comfort level hitting with two strikes,” Kapler said. “Interestingly we’ve been talking quite a bit about this, and so that’s caused us to dive into other great hitters, and most are comfortable hitting with two strikes. If they don’t get a pitch they’re comfortable with in the first couple pitches of the at-bat, (they’re) comfortable going deep, fouling off a pitch or two until they get a pitch to drive. In that particular at-bat against Margevicius, got to the fastball down and in, had seen several fastballs, and taken two good swings on the fastball, got to the fastball and put a good swing on it, and was right on it. Obviously a big three-run homer for us.”

“He’s been pretty consistent with his approach throughout the season. He’s comfortable going deep into counts sometimes he’s going to strike out looking. That’s okay. The result over the course of time will be walks and damage. And we’re definitely willing to make (that) tradeoff from time to time for a strikeout.”

Yastrzemski’s homer marked the eighth time he’s hit one this season in a two-strike count. And you caught Kapler’s reference to great hitters. Is Yastrzemski in that group? At age 30, with fewer than two years of major league experience under his belt, time will tell. But with no All-Star game to experience this year, Yaz is an All-Star, and he’s doing things great hitters do.

The Giants quickly put this one out of reach with a run in the fourth, and three spots in the fifth and sixth. It would be the third time the Giants have scored 10 or more in 23 home games this season.

Tyler Anderson picked up the win, after going 1-2 in his previous three starts, all against the Diamondbacks, with the former Rockies starter getting the complete game in the first start but failing to get out of the fifth inning in either of the last two. This time he pitched six, scoreless innings allowing just three hits.

“I knew it’d be pretty good to face another team and kind of refresh him a little bit,” catcher Bart said of Anderson. “I was glad that he did a great job tonight and went six innings for us.”

The ominous, dark, smoke-filled skies that essentially wiped out daytime in the Bay Area didn’t make for an unhealthy evening at the ballpark. But a superstitious manager Scott Servais probably took note of the twilight orange skies turning pitch black around the third inning when the Giants turned hitterish.

“Everything was orange,” Servais noted. “And when you’re playing the Giants and the sky is orange, it’s not a great feeling. And it certainly didn’t work out well tonight.”

The Giants travel to San Diego for the opener of a four-game set on Thursday with one of the NL’s hottest clubs in the Padres. Only 16 games remain, but only the next six are outside the Bay Area. After a two-game set in Seattle, the Giants finish with three games in Oakland followed by the final seven at Oracle Park.

MORE YAZ: He might fallen off the NL MVP pace being set by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mookie Betts, but Mike Yastrzemski is back on his business in the last week. Yaz has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, building his numbers to 24 extra-base hits (2nd in the NL), 26 walks and 31 RBI, reflecting his blend of pop and patience. His eight home runs in two strikes counts leads all MLB hitters.

In his first 151 games at the big league level as a Giant, Yastrzemski is second only to Orlando Cepeda in amassing 70 extra base hits. Cepeda achieved the feat in 150 games. Also, Yaz has 30 home runs in that same period, equaling Bobby Thompson and Dave Kingman for tops in Giants history.

Giants break through against Gallen, reach .500 with 4-2 win over Arizona

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Zac Gallen was dealing. Then he wasn’t.

The Giants lengthy climb back to .500 appeared stalled Monday evening as Gallen, Arizona’s 25-year old starter with the major league’s fourth lowest ERA, breezed through the first five innings allowing just one hit.

No stranger to the Giants, Gallen was making his third start against them since August 22, having allowed one run in each of the two previous outings, winning the first. His notoriety carried weight as well, having completed the first 23 starts of his career without allowing more than three runs in any of them, an ongoing major league record.

This time Gallen looked even more formidable–using cutters and curveballs to set up his 93 mph fastball–by breezing through five having thrown just 59 pitches, and leading 1-0.

In the sixth, things fell apart, with Gallen allowing four hits, two walks without recording an out. Just that fast, the Giants were on their way to a 4-2 win, and Gallen felt as if he saw it coming.

“Even those first five innings, it seemed like I was rolling but I feel like I kind of got away with some pitches that weren’t my best stuff,” he said. “In that sixth inning, I wasn’t making pitches.”

“He was making pitches early and then I think he just made some mistakes out over the plate and they took advantage of it,” manager Torey Lovullo said of Gallen.

The win brought the Giants back to .500 for the first time since August 2 when they were 5-5. With the regular season only 60 games, the quest took more than half the season to achieve. With 18 games remaining, the Giants are competing for one the final playoff spots in the National League. Can they hang?

Manager Gabe Kapler likes what he’s seen.

“The character of this team is continuing to shine through,” Kapler said. “Long way to go, lot of work left to do but certainly gratifying to get back to the .500 mark.”

Kevin Gausman picked up the win, pitching six innings, allowing just one run while striking out nine. Gausman’s name kept coming up at the trade deadline for all the right reasons as multiple clubs felt the right-hander could help them with their playoff aspirations. Throughout, Gausman stated he wanted to stay with the Giants. In the end, he got his wish.

“I was definitely happy to be back here” he said. “More than anything, I just feel confident in our team.”

The Giants next have a home-and-home set with the Mariners wrapped around a four-game set at Petco Park against the Padres. Then they return to the Bay Area for the final 10 games of the season, with the first three of those in Oakland.








Faulty Replays and Seering Heat: A’s suffer setbacks in 5-3 series deciding loss to San Diego

OAKLAND–With the heat on like never before at the Coliseum, the A’s wilted on Sunday afternoon in the rubber game with the Padres.

Tied 2-2 in the third, a video replay of a bang-bang tag play on baserunner Rex Grossman figured to be reversed, allowing the A’s to regain the lead.

Despite replays from four angles–all revealing but not completely transparent–the league office review crew upheld umpire Nick Mahrley’s call of out.

In an empty stadium, the groans emanating from the A’s dugout spoke volumes. The replays seemed to support the A’s contention that Grossman’s foot crossed the plate before pitcher Garrett Richards’ sweeping tag was applied.

“When you think you have a run and you don’t have a run, that’s tough to swallow,” A’s starter Mike Fiers said.

The momentum shift was all the Padres–winners of five of their last seven games in the midst of their trade deadline talent upgrade–would need. Jake Cronenworth’s RBI double allowed San Diego to regain the lead in the fourth, and Fernando Tatis Jr.’s league-leading 15th home run finished the A’s in a 5-3 decision.

The loss capped a week of vulnerability for Oakland starting with four consecutive COVID-19 cancellations attributed to Daniel Mengden’s positive test, then an injury to Marcus Semien took the always available shortstop out of the lineup and on to the 10-day injured list.

On Sunday, the temperature shot up to 94 degrees at first pitch resulting in the hottest home game in Oakland A’s history. If all that wasn’t enough struggling Matt Chapman was removed in the fifth inning because of a hip injury.

Chapman struck out in both of his at-bats on Sunday, and eight times in his previous nine at-bats going back to Friday night. In making a flawless scoop, spin and throw to retire Jurickson Profar in the fourth, Chapman apparently aggravated a previous flare-up in his hip. Under the watchful eye of the A’s training staff, the third baseman was replaced by Chad Pinder before the start of the fifth.

The A’s have dropped four of their last five, but maintain a 3 1/2 game lead on the Astros on the eve of a five games in four days set against Houston that could settle the division for Oakland or prepare the stage for a photo finish in the season’s final 15 games.

Given the importance of the upcoming series the absences of Houston’s Jose Altuve along with Semien and Chapman will be significant.

“It’s not great timing,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We have a lot of teams with injuries right now. We’ve been pretty fortunate.”

Giants stay pat at the trade deadline, zero in on the Rockies

photo: San Francisco Giants general manager Farhan Zaidi was dealing on Monday as the Giants acquired left hand pitcher Anthony Banda from the Tampa Bay Rays 

By Morris Phillips

The Giants won a road series for the first time in 2020, no small feat when you consider the physical and mental challenges involved with travel during the pandemic, along with trying to turn around 93 mph splitters.

The team picked to finish last in the last in the NL West is now a game behind third-place Colorado, and has won nine of 12 games. Baseball-Reference is feeling the Giants as well, saying they’re the (slight) favorite to overtake the Rockies for the last playoff spot in the National League’s expanded field of eight teams.

So the August 31 trade deadline must have been eventful for a club looking for reinforcements for the stretch run. Right?

The answer: not really.

The Giants acquired pitcher Anthony Banda, who had been placed on irrevocable waivers by the Rays. Dereck Rodriguez, who was designated for assignment by the Giants, got picked up by the Tigers. Two transactions, no trades for the Giants.

The message undoubtedly is that the front office likes this group, despite its flaws and bullpen deficiencies. But the greater point is–and this goes for all 30 teams–the 2020 deadline is no place for significant, and costly, player movement given the uncertainty for the rest of the season, and beyond with no framework for a new collective bargaining agreement in place for 2021 and beyond.

But for now, this point rings true: the Giants like this group, and more so, they like the significant improvement in their farm system and were reluctant to part with any prized assets.

“You can tell there’s a lot of belief within the group about what we can accomplish here down the stretch,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said on Monday after the 1pm deadline passed.

The Giants are offensively competent for the first time in years. From Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano, who have appeared at the top of the NL’s offensive categories throughout the first half of the season, to Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Alex Dickerson, the Giants have capable hitters throughout their lineup. At home, the group has averaged six runs per game, making Oracle Park seem hitter friendly maybe for the first time ever.

The pitching and defense have improved as the season has progressed, despite injuries to Jeff Samardzija and Drew Smyly, and the failure of Trevor Gott to seize the closer’s role.

Johnny Cueto has anchored the staff with a string of quality starts, including Sunday at Arizona where he allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings of work. Moving Cueto at the trade deadline never came to pass as teams passed on the hefty remainder of his contract.

The Giants biggest advantage however, maybe their remaining schedule. They remain one of the few teams that hasn’t experienced any disruptions to its schedule–excepting last week’s postponement in protest of Jacob Blake’s shooting. Their next two road contests loom as their biggest as the Giants visit Colorado for games on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. Their last 10 contests all take place in the Bay Area: three at Oakland, followed by the final seven at Oracle Park.

The eight qualifiers for the playoffs will be the top two finishers in each division, plus the next two best records. Because no one is playing league games outside their division, and the interleague schedule hasn’t seen any teams compile a difference-making record, finishing third in the West is the goal for the Giants. The Dodgers and Padres appear to be too far in front, and the third place finisher in the West should qualify, while the fourth place finisher probably won’t qualify.

The Rockies upgraded at the trade deadline, ironically by acquiring Kevin Pillar from the Red Sox to give them greater flexibility in the outfield. Pillar revived his career with the Giants in 2019, only to not be offered a deal by the club for this season.

The Giants send Kevin Gausman to the mound on Tuesday to face Jon Gray. Logan Webb will pitch Wednesday versus Kyle Freeland.


A’s-Astros finale cancelled due to positive virus test

By Morris Phillips

The finale of the A’s-Astros series at Minute Maid Park was cancelled when a member of the Oakland traveling party tested positive for the Coronavirus.

The A’s are quarantined in a Houston hotel where they will remain until Monday when the group will be subjected to a follow up round of tests to determine the full scope of the outbreak. The A’s were scheduled to fly to Seattle and resume their road trip against the Mariners on Tuesday.

Already on this road trip, the A’s have missed a game against the Rangers in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting, and cancelled a second contest that was scheduled for Friday night in Houston. That game was rescheduled as part of a doubleheader Saturday, where both games shortened to seven innings went to the Astros.

No information was released linking the positive test to a player, coach or another, non-uniformed member of the A’s traveling party.

The Astros were last tested on Friday, with all of the results negative. The team conducted a round of tests Sunday morning, the results of which were not available at press time. The Astros are hopeful of resuming their schedule on Tuesday with a home series against the Rangers. The team announced that the clubhouse occupied by the A’s, and designated for the Rangers, will undergo a rigorous cleaning above normal protocols.

The A’s-Astros cancellation is the 38th of the pandemic-truncated 2020 season and the first to affect AL West or NL West clubs. Saturday marked the first time all 30 MLB teams had played on the same day since July 26. Five Oakland-Houston matchups remain with the Astros visiting the Coliseum next week, providing an opportunity to reschedule Sunday’s game.

The A’s are 22-12 on the season, and maintain a 2 1/2 game lead on the Astros.

Dodgers drub Giants with doubleheader sweep, win 2-0 in the nightcap

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The Giants’ impressive seven-game win streak ran into the Dodgers’ once-in-a-century streak of seven, consecutive division titles on Thursday and it wasn’t much of a battle.

In fact, it was a wipeout as the Dodgers swept, winning 7-0 in the opener and 2-0 in the nightcap. The Dodgers hadn’t posted shutouts in both games of a twin bill since 1971 against the Braves.

So consider the feat–49 years removed from its last occurrence–the halfway point between the two, aforementioned streaks and call it a day.

Manager Dave Roberts felt one shutout set up the other, referencing Clayton Kershaw’s dominant six innings in the opener.

“For Clayton to set the tone in Game 1 obviously gave us a lot of flexibility in Game 2,” Roberts said. “To regroup today, focus on baseball and win two baseball games against a division rival was good.”

The intensity for both clubs at the outset of the afternoon was obvious. Not only was the season series at stake with the rivals tied at four games a piece, the Giants were playing meaningful games late in a season for the first time since 2016. Then Clay Bellinger came up with a pair of highlight catches and Kershaw settled in.

During the second game, that obvious intensity disappeared as the Dodgers seamlessly replaced injured, scheduled starter Walker Buehler with opener Chris Ferguson and six, other relievers in a two-hit gem. Highlighting the Dodgers depth and overall talent, six of the seven pitchers entered the game with earned run averages 1.74 or better, and all six lowered their number as Brusdar Graterol and closer Kenley Jansen were the only two to allow hits, both singles to Belt.

The Dodgers only managed three hits, but one was Joc Pederson’s solo shot in the second, and another Will Smith’s RBI double that scored Pederson in the fourth.

Kevin Gausman enhanced his perceived trade deadline value by pitching into the fifth, allowing three hits, two walks and both Dodgers’ runs.

Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano went hitless after collecting a hit a piece in the opener. The Giants’ MLB second-best runs per game average at home took a hit during the scoreless afternoon. The Giants were averaging 6 1/2 runs per game at Oracle Park coming in.

The Dodgers improved to 24-9 on the season, and increased their lead in the NL West over the Padres to five games. The Giants fell to fourth place at 15-18.