LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers and Padres have established a competitive rivalry over the last two seasons and have played some of the most entertaining regular season games in recent memory in 2021.
But just in case anybody needed a reminder, the Giants tried to make it clear that they’re the Dodgers’ longtime rival as the two teams delivered a highly entertaining contest on Friday at Dodger Stadium. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, their ninth-inning rally wasn’t enough to beat the Giants, as they fell, 8-5, in 10 innings.
“For us to come back, it was fun to see, fun to watch,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “But it just wasn’t to be and we got beat tonight, and that’s going to happen.”
After eight innings, it looked as if the Giants were going to cruise to their first win over the Dodgers this season. San Francisco led 5-2 heading into the ninth and had a win probability of 96 percent, according to Baseball Savant.
That win probability grew to 98 percent after Max Muncy led off the bottom half of the ninth with a weak grounder to first. But then, the Dodgers fought back against Tyler Rogers, one of the toughest relievers in the National League.
Justin Turner got the rally started with a one-out single, his third of the night. Will Smith followed it up with a single of his own, getting the tying run up to the plate. Gavin Lux, who has had a flair for the dramatic lately, wasn’t able to keep the line moving as he grounded out to first base for the second out of the inning.
Then, the Dodgers turned to Austin Barnes, who was the last position player available off the bench, to keep the game alive. Barnes didn’t just keep the game alive, he gave the Dodgers new life, sending the socially distanced crowd at Dodger Stadium into a frenzy with a game-tying three-run homer. It was Barnes’ first pinch-hit homer of his career.
“I know he’s a tough pitcher,” Barnes said. “I was just trying to get a pitch down in the zone and put a good swing on it. I wasn’t trying to hit a homer, but I thankfully got the barrel and it went out.”
While Barnes and his teammates celebrated in the home dugout, there was another loud bang for a Dodgers hitter off Rogers. This time, it was Albert Pujols, who lifted a 71 mph slider into left field. Pujols, who has 668 career homers, admired the ball for a second, thinking it would result in his first walk-off homer as a member of the Dodgers.
Pujols was nearly right. The ball was hit over the outfield wall, but Giants left fielder Mike Tauchman made one of the defensive plays of the season, jumping up and robbing Pujols of the walk-off homer.
“I think once he showed the ball,” Roberts said, when asked when he realized Tauchman had made the catch. “I was sort of hoping that it was a deke and the ball went out. We were waiting to see the baseball.”
While the Dodgers were able to tie the game with their late-game heroics, the Giants were able to answer back in the 10th against closer Kenley Jansen. Evan Longoria delivered the big two-run double off Jansen, giving the Giants a 8-5 lead. The Dodgers, who have now lost seven games in extras this season, went down quietly in the bottom half of the inning.
“To me, he was a little too concerned with the runner on second base and it just sped up his delivery too much,” Roberts said about Jansen. “I don’t think it was too much the [pitching on] back-to-back [days] as much as trying to be too quick and not picking up his target, and I think that led to the inconsistencies of the throw.”
Despite the loss, the Dodgers had a couple of good moments on the field. And they’re going to be riding high on Saturday, as they’re set to welcome back star outfielder Cody Bellinger and utility man Zach McKinstry to the active roster.
“It was a tough game for us,” said Dodgers starter Walker Buehler. “But at the end of the day, we still feel pretty good about what we have inside that clubhouse.”