Dodgers 2, Giants 1 – 2021 NLDS Game 5: Cody Bellinger comes through late to send the Dodgers to the NLCS

A game that the great Vin Scully said prior to its beginning was the most important one in the long history of this rivalry was an absolute nail-biter that came down to the 9th inning. In that inning, the Dodgers got a run behind Cody Bellinger (of all people this year) and then Max Scherzer slammed the door shut (with help from a controversial call) on the Giants for the save in a 2-1 victory.

NLCS!!!

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In what was sure to be controversial, the Dodgers decided to forgo starting Julio Urias and went with an opener instead, a decision that surely lies more with Andrew Friedman than Dave Roberts.

Corey Knebel was given the ball to start the game, and after starting the game with a routine fly out, he then gave up two deep fly balls, one of which went for an out and one was a two-out double for Buster Posey. Thankfully, he was able to rebound and get Brandon Crawford to strikeout.

Partially to take advantage of the platoon bats at the bottom of the Giants lineup and partially to get a pinch-hitter to the plate for a reliever the first time through the order at the other end, another righty reliever in Brusdar Graterol got the 2nd. He gave up an infield single and a bloop single in the inning that combined for 114.8 mph in exit velocity, but got a scoreless frame in the end.

Meanwhile, Logan Webb was stellar in his Game 1 start, so that was worrying in itself. But more worrying is that it basically just continued a trend for him against the Dodgers, as the Giants had won all four games Webb started against them in 2021, and in those games he gave up just four earned runs in 23.2 innings for a 1.52 ERA.

Regardless, Mookie Betts got the game off to a nice start for the Dodgers with a clean single on a 3-1 count, and Corey Seager did well too with a 106 mph lineout that had a .720 xBA. However, Trea Turner insured Webb would face the minimum after grounding right over the bag for an easy double play.

Webb then seemed to find it, getting perfect innings in the 2nd and 3rd, making it eight batters in a row retired. The 4th saw the Dodgers mount their first threat that started with another Betts single. A comebacker from Seager advanced him to second on the out, a Trea comebacker for another out followed but kept Betts at second. Webb then issued a walk to Will Smith that was basically pitching around him, and the reason he could do that was because a struggling Justin Turner rolled the third comebacker of the inning to Webb and the chance was done. After that, Webb rebounded with 1-2-3 inning in the 5th.

The 6th frame didn’t start ideally with a Julio ground out, but Betts got things started again with his third single and then followed up by stealing second. Seager then got ahead in the count and went the other way with an oppo double for a 1-0 lead. The Dodgers had a chance to really tack on to that, but Trea continued his slump with an ugly strikeout and Will flew out to the track in left, ending the threat.

For the Dodgers, things got a lot more standard in the 3rd after the opener start, with Urias entering and getting three straight fly outs to start his night.

The 4th was a lot closer to a mess, as after Crawford started with a single, Kris Bryant struck out on a 3-2 count and had two pitches that could’ve been called balls against him that would’ve put two on with nobody out. But after a wild pitch that advanced Crawford, Julio got a ground out that moved the runner to third and a pop out to end the scoring chance.

The 5th was Julio’s best inning yet as he carved hitters, striking out the side on just 10 pitches.

After getting the lead in the top of the inning, it lasted just one batter, as the 6th started with a Darin Ruf no-doubter to dead center to tie the game at 1-1. He did get through the inning, giving up just a single (to a hot Bryant) other than that, but the damage was done: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 59 Pitches.

In a bit of a surprise, Webb went back out in the 7th despite being at 89 pitches, and he rewarded Gabe Kapler by getting a 1-2-3 frame even if it did take 17 pitches.

The Dodgers pen continued to churn in the 7th with Blake Treinen entering and carving the lineup with a perfect frame that included two strikeouts, though that was curiously the end of the line for him due to not being double switched in.

Remember that thought for later.

The Giants were finally forced to go with the pen in the 8th, as Tyler Rogers entered for Webb. A routine fly out started his outing, but a pinch hitting AJ Pollock singled on an odd-bouncing ball off a diving Wilmer Flores‘ glove and Betts followed with his fourth single of the night by hitting one back up the middle.

In the pivotal at-bat against Seager, Rogers threw a pitch that bounced on the grass in front of the mound, but Posey made an amazing stop that prevented the runners from advancing. Rogers then rebounded to strikeout Seager before exiting.

That put closer Camilo Doval in the game against the struggling Trea, who flew out weakly to right on the first pitch to end the threat and the top of the 8th. Doval continued in the 9th, getting a ground out to start, but then hitting JT to start his at-bat, which was followed by a Gavin Lux single. After a battle, Doval continued to throw sliders to Bellinger, and Cody finally got one to hit for a dramatic single through the shift and a 2-1 lead.

After that was a seemingly key sequence, with Kevin Gausman entering and Chris Taylor doing what everybody expected with a safety squeeze. But Kapler saw it too and had the Giants crashing in, and CT3 bunted it in the air for an out. The rally ended when Matt Beaty grounded out. Brutal.

Meanwhile, for the Dodgers it was Kenley Jansen in the 8th, and he continued his run of dominance with two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 frame.

Since Kenley was then pinch hit for to try and extend the lead, who else entered to get the save but Max Scherzer. After getting Crawford to line out to start thing, Bryant reached after grounding a ball down the line to third where JT simply didn’t field it for an error. Pinch-hitter LaMonte Wade Jr. stepped up and struck out after a couple tense fly balls pulled foul, and then Flores struck out on a check swing to end it. A questionable one that will undoubtedly be talked about.

Oh well, that’s … Ruf.

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NLCS!

NLCS!

NLCS!

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The Dodgers will play the Braves in the NLCS starting on Saturday. No idea who will be pitching, honestly.

About Chad Moriyama

"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times