LOS ANGELES -- The Giants caught one big break en route to their wild 5-3 comeback win over the Dodgers on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, but in the end, it was their ability to do the little things right that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Giants’ second consecutive ninth-inning rally against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen featured a controversial check-swing call that forced in the tying run and a go-ahead, two-run single from LaMonte Wade Jr., but manager Gabe Kapler began his postgame Zoom session with reporters by highlighting the heads-up baserunning by Jason Vosler.
With the Giants trailing, 3-1, in the top of the ninth, Vosler drew a seven-pitch walk against Jansen to load the bases with two outs for Thairo Estrada, who hit a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop Chris Taylor. Vosler was initially called out at second base, seemingly ending the game, but the ruling was overturned following a replay review, keeping the Giants’ rally alive.
Kapler praised the aggressive secondary lead taken by Vosler, who managed to beat Taylor’s throw to second by a split-second to trim the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2.
“I thought it was the most important play of the game,” Kapler said. “It’s really something that we teach as part of our fundamental game, but you just don’t see it that often. You don’t see it mean so much to a win like it did tonight.”
“A lot of people came up to me after that congratulating me on the big play there,” Vosler said. “I feel like anybody on our team does the same thing there, so I don’t know how much extra credit I should be getting for that.”
The drama didn’t end there, of course. Darin Ruf subsequently stepped up to the plate and appeared to strike out on a 3-2 cutter from Jansen, but first-base umpire Ed Hickox ruled that Ruf held up his swing, allowing the 34-year-old slugger to trot to first base for a bases-loaded walk that tied the game.
The call drew the ire of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was ejected for the second consecutive game after storming out onto the field to argue the ruling.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he went and the game should’ve been over,” Roberts said. “Eddie is a really good umpire, he’s been around for a long time. But in that spot, two contending teams, you just can’t miss that call. The game should’ve been over, there’s just no other way to look at it.”
“The check swings, those can always go either way,” Kapler said. “You know that we’ve seen some of those not go our way over the course of the last couple of weeks, and I think this one did.”
Wade then capped the rally with a two-run single to right field, giving the Giants a 5-3 lead and forcing Jansen, who also surrendered a go-ahead, two-run homer to Wilmer Flores that lifted the Giants to a 4-2 win on Wednesday, to walk off the mound to a chorus of boos for the second straight night.
“To do what we did the last two nights against one of the game’s best closers really, really speaks a lot to the toughness of this team and the always-grinding type of attitude,” Ruf said.
The Dodgers brought the tying run to the plate after Billy McKinney delivered a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth, but Jake McGee struck out Sheldon Neuse to convert his career-high 20th save of the year and lock down the win for the Giants.
After taking three out of four games from the Dodgers, the Giants will now head back home to San Francisco with a three-game lead in the National League West. The archrivals will meet for their penultimate regular-season series of the year next week, setting the stage for another high-stakes clash at Oracle Park.
“This series showed a lot about our team,” Wade said. “It shows we can play on both sides of the ball with the best of them.”