SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite demolishing the Giants on Sunday at AT&T Park, 15-0, the "regular" season isn't over for the postseason-bound Dodgers, who will play a tiebreaking 163rd game Monday at home against the Rockies to determine who wins the National League West and who goes to the Wild Card
SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite demolishing the Giants on Sunday at AT&T Park, 15-0, the "regular" season isn't over for the postseason-bound Dodgers, who will play a tiebreaking 163rd game Monday at home against the Rockies to determine who wins the National League West and who goes to the Wild Card Game on Tuesday on the road.
Starting on Monday for the Dodgers will be rookie right-hander Walker Buehler, fresh and ready after being held back Sunday and replaced by Rich Hill (11-5), who went old school to a full windup for the first time in his career and dominated the Giants on two hits over seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Hill went 9-1 over his last 13 starts following the All-Star break.
• FAQs for the NL West tiebreaker
The Dodgers decided to start Hill around midnight Saturday, but he was already asleep and didn't see the text until he awoke Sunday, not that it mattered.
"You always stay ready, you make sure to stay in your routine so when that opportunity comes you're ready for that opportunity, instead of having it pop up and take you by surprise," said Hill.
Manager Dave Roberts said it was Hill's best start "in recent memory," and Hill agreed.
"The curveball has been good the last couple weeks since I made that change adjusting the grip," Hill said. "I think every game is a big game. Just stay ready. I always want to take the ball."
Despite the importance of the game, Hill said it was the first time in his career he deployed a full over-the-head windup, saying teammate Chase Utley told Hill he was tipping pitches with his standard delivery.
"He was unbelievable," said Justin Turner. "Something about him pitching against the Giants. He always throws well against them. That was huge for us, to give our bullpen a rest and give us a chance to play tomorrow."
The Dodgers scored twice before an out was recorded, seven times in the third inning, three more in the fourth and twice in the fifth. They had 13 hits before the Giants had any, Joe Panik's line single with one out in the fourth inning ending Hill's no-hitter. The Dodgers finished with 16 hits, every starting position player getting at least one and scoring at least once.
"It started from the first at-bat," said Roberts. "I thought we had a great plan and we executed up and down the line."
Matt Kemp and James Dozier, platoon starters against San Francisco lefty Andrew Suarez, had three RBIs each, Kemp doubling twice with a single and Dozier slugging a two-run homer plus a sacrifice fly. Enrique Hernandez had a triple and two singles, while Player Page for Max Muncy had a two-run pinch-hit splash home run into McCovey Cove. Austin Barnes also homered. The Dodgers began mass substitutions in the fifth inning to rest the starters.
Game 163 will be a Dodgers home game by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker, as they held a 12-7 advantage over the Rockies in the season series. Sunday's early blowout for both clubs (Colorado beat Washington, 12-0) allowed conservation of higher-leverage relievers for upcoming games. A 40-man roster is allowed for Game 163, but only 25 will be active for the Wild Card Game.
With their first series sweep in San Francisco since 2014, the Dodgers went 18-9 in September and won 13 of their last 17 games. They had a 2 1/2-game division lead on Sept. 20, trailed by one game entering Saturday play, then caught the Rockies on Saturday.
The Dodgers turned in their 18th double-digit scoring effort this season, their highest total in a single season since 19 in 2000. This was the sixth time this season they scored 14 or more runs in a game, the most by a Dodgers team since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. The last Dodgers team to score 14 or more runs in more than six games in a single season was the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers, who did a franchise-best-tying eight games. The 15 runs gave them 799 for the season, the most in the National League. The Dodgers had not led the NL in runs scored since 1978.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Muncy's home run not only was his team-leading 34th, but it was the 45th splash homer by an opposing player and the fifth by a Dodger. The last Dodgers player to do it prior to Muncy was Cody Bellinger on Sept. 13, 2017.
HE SAID IT
"I don't think anyone is." -- Turner deadpanned, when asked if he was as confident in Buehler as Buehler is in himself
Buehler faces the Rockies in Monday's tiebreaker game at 1 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium, opposed by right-hander German Marquez. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.