Flores on NLDS-ending K: 'Don't think I went'

First-base ump rings up Giants infielder on check swing vs. Scherzer

October 15th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- A controversial check-swing call helped the Giants clinch the National League West title by the slimmest of margins. Another controversial check-swing call ultimately ended their season.

The Dodgers eliminated the Giants with a 2-1 win in the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night at Oracle Park when Max Scherzer struck out Wilmer Flores on a disputed check swing to end the game.

The Dodgers took a one-run lead into the bottom of the ninth behind Cody Bellinger’s go-ahead single off rookie closer Camilo Doval, but the Giants put the potential tying run on base when Kris Bryant reached on a one-out fielding error by Justin Turner. Flores later stepped to the plate with two outs and fell behind, 0-2, before appearing to check his swing on a slider from Scherzer.

But first-base umpire Gabe Morales rang up Flores on an appeal, resulting in a rather anticlimactic finish to a classic matchup between the NL West archrivals. Check-swing calls are not reviewable, forcing the Giants to watch the Dodgers erupt in celebration on San Francisco's home turf after punching their ticket to the NL Championship Series.

“Super tough,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “Obviously, you don't want a game to end that way. I know these guys work really hard to make the right call, so it's super challenging on our end. … There's no need to be angry about that. I just think it's just a disappointing way to end. There are other reasons we didn't win today's baseball game.”

Flores said he didn’t believe he went, which was backed up by video replay of his swing.

“I don’t think I went,” Flores said. “Every at-bat matters in a close game, but there are some things you can’t control.”

What did Morales see on the play?

“The plate umpire appealed the check swing to me. I thought he went, so I called it a swing,” Morales said. “Check swings are one of the hardest calls we have. I don't have the benefit of multiple camera angles when I'm watching it live. When it happened live, I thought he went, so that's why I called it a swing.”

The Giants, of course, caught a break earlier this season when a big check-swing call went their way in a dramatic 5-3 win over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on July 22.

With the Giants trailing by one in the top of the ninth, Darin Ruf stepped to the plate and appeared to strike out on a 3-2 cutter from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, but first-base umpire Ed Hickox ruled that Ruf held up his swing, leading to a controversial bases-loaded walk that tied the game. LaMonte Wade Jr.’s go-ahead two-run single then capped a wild win en route to the Giants ultimately finishing one game ahead of the Dodgers in the epic NL West race.

“At the time, I didn't know, but obviously we've been able to see the replay, and it didn't look like he went,” Ruf said of Flores’ check swing. “But a check swing earlier in the year helped us out, too. So it's kind of funny how it comes down to those two events.”

“I'm trying to sell it as much as I possibly can,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It's baseball, and ultimately we won a ball game.”