The San Francisco Giants hold an edge in the standings, but the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers will have the advantage in starting pitchers Saturday night when the National League West rivals continue their high-stakes series.
In a game that featured 17 pitchers and each team making a backs-to-the-wall comeback, the Giants (86-49) secured a one-game lead over the Dodgers (85-50) atop the division with a 3-2 win in 11 innings in the series opener Friday.
Los Angeles was forced to turn the contest into a bullpen game after scheduled starter David Price was scratched due to shoulder pain.
Fortunately for the Dodgers, they’ll have major-league wins leader Julio Urias (15-3, 3.17 ERA) available for Saturday’s rematch. The Giants, in turn, are scrambling for a starter.
A wild series opener included Dodgers ace Walker Buehler pinch running and scoring the go-ahead run in the 10th inning. Los Angeles later was forced to let its last available pitcher — Evan Phillips — bat in a crucial situation in the 11th.
The game ended with Dodgers catcher Will Smith making his major-league debut at first base, and the Giants prepared to use their top pitcher, Logan Webb, in the outfield had the game gone to a 12th inning.
Smith was involved in the final play of the game, when he pulled his foot off first base in order to catch Trea Turner’s high throw with two outs and the bases loaded. When he couldn’t reach back for the base in time, Buster Posey was ruled safe at first and Brandon Belt scored to end the game. Turner was charged with an error.
San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler left the park with a win but was unable or unwilling to announce his starting pitcher for Saturday. The slot was left vacant by Alex Wood’s recent positive COVID-19 test and Johnny Cueto’s sore arm.
Regardless of who starts Saturday for the Giants, that pitcher figures to be supported by a home crowd the manager labeled as the loudest of the season on Friday night.
Agreeing was veteran shortstop Brandon Crawford, who singled in the tying run in the 10th inning and threw out a potential Dodgers go-ahead run at the plate in the 11th.
“It looked like a full house,” Crawford said of a season-best home crowd of 39,338. “It was great to get it packed in here again. It was pretty loud all night, so that was great.”
Urias will take the mound riding an 11-game unbeaten streak dating to June 21. He’s gone 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA over that span, with the Dodgers winning nine of those 11 games.
The 25-year-old left-hander has started four games against the Giants this season, going 1-1 with a 3.80 ERA. He has faced them 19 times in his career, 13 times as a starter, going 1-3 with a 2.69 ERA.
Urias hasn’t pitched into the seventh inning in any of his last six starts, which could be problematic this time with the Dodgers having used every available reliever in Friday’s loss.
The good news for Los Angeles is that none of them pitched more than two innings.
Coincidentally, the bullpen circus came hours after Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said his team was getting close to welcoming back Clayton Kershaw.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award recipient has been out since July 3 with discomfort in his forearm.
“The next step for Clayton will be to throw a (bullpen session) on Sunday,” Roberts announced before Friday’s game. “Once he gets through that, we’ll figure out where he goes on a rehab assignment, which would be either Tuesday or Wednesday. After he gets through that — we would assume healthy and all goes well — then the next outing will be with us.”
The Dodgers have Buehler set for the series finale on Sunday. The Giants, who have used their top three healthy pitchers in the last three games, again are undecided.
–Field Level Media