On Friday, before the Giants series got started, I wrote up a little preview, and ended on this:
That’s not to underestimate the Giants; far from it. They have won two championships since 2010, obviously, and they remain a tough team. I’m just not all that worried about games that happened with different players back in April and May, and this series alone won’t decide the NL West race. (They still play six games in September.) Unless the Dodgers sweep, of course. Then you can write all the “turning point! narrative!” articles you want.
TURNING POINT! NARRATIVE! The Dodgers finally started playing like a real team and not a “sabermetric nightmare” and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and…
..ha, no. They’re just a talented team who rolled out Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu against a team desperate enough to actually play Dan Uggla at second base and attempt to wring the last few bits of life out of Jake Peavy. The Giants are still a good team, but without Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt, Marco Scutaro, and Matt Cain, they’re a limping one. That’s no place to be against a team rolling out that trio of starters and showing some signs of life on offense.
Not that this wasn’t a weird game, because, well, it was. Uggla made two errors, because he is now terrible at baseball, and went 0-8 with five strikeouts and three errors in the series. Dee Gordon reached base three times without getting a hit or a walk, tying lots of people — no really, it’s happened 57 times — for a major league record. In the fifth inning alone, Gordon reached despite striking out thanks to a Peavy wild pitch, went to second on a walk, moved to third on another Peavy wild pitch, and scored on another missed strike three. (Buster Posey, who later redeemed himself somewhat with a solo homer, looked awful on defense tonight, by the way. I’m sure that a lack of familiarity with newcomer Peavy didn’t help, but he was also about a mile away from the plate on a close play where Hanley Ramirez scored.)
Ryu was effective through six innings, allowing single runs in the third — a walk, a single, and an infield single, on which Ramirez failed to make a bare-hand play, but probably couldn’t have gotten the out anyway — fourth, and fifth, but really the story here was Peavy, who wasn’t even clearly an upgrade on Dan Haren, and Haren has been terrible. When Peavy wasn’t busy barking at the umps or throwing wild pitches, he never really seemed comfortable; it was his first game as a Giant of course. But still, I can’t say I was unhappy to watch it.
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We should pause here, probably to note one of those plays that will never, ever be remembered but are absolutely vital. In the seventh inning, Brandon Crawford led off with a single against J.P. Howell, then Joaquin Arias lined out to Juan Uribe, who tried, unsuccessfully, to double Crawford off first. Uribe was probably better off just holding onto it, but threw anyway, and because Crawford was trying to get back, Adrian Gonzalez found himself in an awkward position as the ball came at him:
Gonzalez managed to get a glove on it, keeping Crawford at first. Howell immediately got Gregor Blanco to hit into a double play, keeping the one-run lead intact. It won’t show up anywhere, but these things matter. And really, for all the bullpen angst, Howell, Brian Wilson, and Kenley Jansen each threw scoreless innings to finish this one off. I won’t say it was all smooth and easy, but it worked. Jansen, who struck out the side, is still the best.
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But I’ve skipped over the offense, of course. In addition to the Gordon play, which proved to be the winning run, Juan Uribe got the first big hit of the day, scoring Carl Crawford in the fourth. Crawford then tripled — that’s all the Dodgers do now — home Ramirez as part of a three-run fifth, after Ramirez had brought home Puig. Matt Kemp, who you may have heard a thing or two about today, got on base three times. The Dodgers should totally trade that guy.
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Hey, guys. SWEEP. The Dodgers are in first place, 1.5 games up, with a day off tomorrow. Enjoy it.