The San Francisco Giants (33-26) won all three games of a massive weekend series at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers (37-23). The Giants sat in third place and were 6.5 games behind the first-place Dodgers prior to this series. Now they are in striking distance only 3.5 back in the middle of June.
Let’s break down how this series went down.
This was poised to be an excellent first game as the starting pitching duel was Walker Buehler for the Dodgers and Jakob Junis for the Giants.
Walker Buehler Struggles
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Buehler has not been the spectacular ace that they expected from him after absolutely dominating opponents the past few years. In his previous five starts, he went 24.1 innings where he gave up 19 runs on 33 hits and eight walks.
He looked to turn it around in a big divisional matchup, but the Giants got to him quickly. In the bottom of the second Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford had back-to-back RBI base hits to go up 2-1. Then in the fourth Darin Ruf smashed a pitch from Buehler for his 4th homer of the season to extend the lead to 3-1.
The Dodgers attempted to make a comeback but did not have much hope after the bottom of the fifth.
The Giants had runners on second and third with two outs. With lefty Justin Bruhl on the mound manager Dave Roberts wanted to play a matchup so he intentionally walked Wilmer Flores to load the bases for lefty slugger Joc Pederson. On a 2-0 pitch, Pederson made the Dodgers pay with a big two-run single to extend the lead to 5-2. Darin Ruf then came up clutch again with an RBI single to pad the lead.
Intentional walks seem to backfire often for teams and this was one that really killed the Dodgers.
Darin Ruf really wanted to make sure the Dodgers felt some pain with his fourth-inning homer and a fifth-inning RBI single. Yet, he wanted to do more damage. In the bottom of the eighth Ruf clobbered a pitch from David Price to dead center field for his second homer of the game.
This is the second multi-homer game of the season for Ruf as he did it on May 20 in a loss to the Colorado Rockies.
He was destined to have a big game since he never homered against the Dodgers in the regular season in 34 games career games. His only homer against the Dodgers was in game five of the 2021 National League Divisional Series.
The Giants came away with a 7-2 victory.
This game was highlighted by one glaring issue: tons of men were stranded on base. For two teams with stellar offenses, this was not a great example of their hitting abilities.
In the bottom of the second, the Giants had two on with two out. Rookie Luis Gonzalez delivered a run on an RBI single to put the Giants up 2-0. That was really the only moment of good hitting with runners in scoring position.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Giants started the inning with men reaching on an error and a walk. The next three batters failed to bring home a run and left both men standing on the corners.
The Giants had one man reach base in the next three innings. Unfortunately, those hitting behind them could not come up with a big hit.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth the Giants held a 2-1 lead but looked to add on. The inning started with a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. With Crawford at the plate, there was an extremely controversial and confusing play where Crawford got hit by a pitch that he swung at, but it was ruled a wild pitch scoring the Giants’ third run. With two men on and no outs, Dodgers pitchers struck out Crawford, Austin Wyns and Curt Casali to end the inning.
They ended up going 1-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight men.
What the Giants went through was nothing compared to the struggle of the Dodgers.
The first three innings featured a single with less than two outs including two lead-off singles. All three were stranded. In the fourth inning, their lead-off man reached for the third straight inning, and then a two-out single put two men on, but neither scored.
One man reached base in the fifth and sixth with less than two outs but didn’t go anywhere.
The later innings was when it really started to hurt. In the seventh, the Dodgers got a walk and two straight singles to load the bases with no outs. The Giants brought in Zack Littel to try and get out of the mess. Little got Freddie Freeman to strike out swinging and then got Trea Turner, one of the fastest players in baseball, to ground into an inning-ending double play.
In the eighth the Dodgers finally made something happen. With runners on the corners, Cody Bellinger hit a ground-rule double to drive home a run. The next batter, Chris Taylor, walked to load the bases with only one out. Star reliever Camilo Doval was able to strike out Gavin Lux and Mookie Betts to strand the bases loaded.
In the ninth, Freeman made it 3-2 with a lead-off solo homer. They got two singles after the homer to bring up Bellinger with two on and two outs. Bellinger made a bid at a game-tying hit, but second baseman Thairo Estrada made a great stop and throw to end the game.
The Dodgers went an abysmal 2-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded a staggering 14 men on base.
The Giants won this tough battle 3-2.
Game three was once again dominated by superb pitching on both ends.
For either of these teams, it is extremely important to put up early runs to put pressure on the opposition. The Giants did that well all throughout this series and especially in this final game.
In the bottom of the first, Austin Slater led off with a home run to give the Giants an immediate 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Mike Yastrzemski smashed his sixth homer of the season to extend the lead to 2-0.
It turns out these two runs were all the Giants needed.
Following the two early homers, Julio Urias really settled in for the Dodgers. He retired the next 16 hitters before Darin Ruf broke the streak with a two-out double in the sixth.
Urias finished the game with six innings pitched where he gave up two runs on three hits and struck out 10. His 10 strikeouts are a season-high.
Carlos Rodon has been very good in his first season with the Giants, but this was an exceptionally great outing. This was the first time since May 21 that he went six innings and the first time since April 20 that he did not give up a run. His eight strikeouts were the most since he struck out 12 on May 9th.
The Giants’ pitching overall did a great job of keeping the Dodgers off the board once again. This was an even worse performance with runners in scoring position as they went 0-10 and stranded nine men.
The Giants’ pitching and early homers gave them a great 2-0 victory.
Wildy, the Dodgers only held a lead in this series for a half-inning. In-game one they took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second and they never saw a lead again after they gave up two in the bottom of the second. For a team of this stature, it shows how impressive the Giants’ pitching was.
To expand on how impressive the Giants were on the mound, they held the Dodgers to only four runs in a three-game series. That is not a feat many teams accomplish.
The last time the Giants held the Dodgers to four runs in a three-game series was September 30 – October 2, 2016. This same series also happened to be the last time the Giants pulled off a sweep of the Dodgers, also in the Bay.
On the Dodgers side, the last time a team held them to four runs in a three-game series was the Houston Astros on August 3-5, 2018 in Los Angeles. The last time it happened on the road was April 10-12, 2017 in Chicago against the Cubs.
Additionally, the Giants’ pitching staff has been so stellar this season that this marks the second series where they held an opponent to four runs in 2022. The other time was their first road series of the season in Clevland where they swept the Guardians.
Lastly, this series was the fifth straight regular-season series with three or more games that the Giants took from the Dodgers. The last time the Dodgers won a series in this matchup was May 21-23, 2021 when they came into San Francisco and left with a sweep.
Both of these teams are contenders for the National League West title once again. This was a huge series that gave the Giants a ton of momentum as they move into a three-game home series against the Kansas City Royals before a seven-game road trip. With these losses, the Dodgers find themselves only a half-game ahead of the San Diego Padres for first place in the division. They will go back home for five interleague games. This series is just the start of another great season series between these two teams.
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