SAN FRANCISCO – First the old man hit a home run. Then the guy I had never heard of before this year threw 7 2/3 blank innings. Then a guy who got hurt a lot made a key play. Then the other old man hit a home run. Then the other guy you never heard of shut it down.
Here come the Giants. They dispatched the Dodgers 4-0 in Game 1 of the NL Division Series the same way they won 107 games this year, the most in sports and the most in franchise history: with a collection of veterans. who have resurgent seasons, a roster of players shuffling on and off the disabled list, and young studs shining in the bright lights.
“That was our message going into the series,” said Old No. 2, 34-year-old shortstop and MVP candidate Brandon Crawford. “Not to change what we have been doing. It obviously worked during the regular season. We continue to play baseball games. They are important games, you have a little less control, but going into each game, that’s our focus: doing everything we did throughout the year. “
That’s bad news for Los Angeles, which never managed to solve the boy you never heard of, 24-year-old right-hander Logan Webb, number one. Making his first postseason start and facing the NL’s most patient team, Webb struck out 10 and failed to walk. He spun a game straight from 2014, mixing his double stitching, slider, and changeup. He didn’t allow a fly ball until the fifth inning. He induced five rolls back to himself. He was on a three-ball count all night, against AJ Pollock, and he struck out.
“I’m so impressed with him,” said left fielder Kris Bryant, who also hit a home run. “His first playoff experience and he was just pretending it was a backyard game. It was a lot of fun to watch. Very funny.”
Old No. 1, 34-year-old catcher Buster Posey, made a different comparison: “It felt a bit like [Tim] Lincecum vs. the Braves in [the 2010 NLDS], “he said. Lincecum threw a two-hit shutout that night. Three weeks later, the Giants won their first title since 1954 to begin a three-in-five-year streak.
Since the second of them, in 2012, Posey hadn’t hit a postseason home run. His shot Friday came in the first inning, nearly landed on McCovey Cove, “That fucking column,” Posey lamented, and put the Giants to a 2-0 lead. Oracle Park trembled as fans roared. One literally threw a cap in the air. The reaction was similar for Crawford, who hit one in the seventh for the first time since ’14.
Crawford, however, was more excited to talk about the double play than he and second baseman Tommy La Stella – the guy who took a lot of damage – did in the fourth inning. Los Angeles’ Justin Turner bounced a broken bat groundout down the middle. Crawford broke for the ball, La Stella for the bag. Then they changed their minds. La Stella picked up the ball, then, with her momentum heading toward third base, she tossed it toward second. Crawford put it on with a glove and fired at first to end the inning. La Stella also walked a game opener and pitched a pair of two-strike singles.
“This is the kind of who we thought Tommy was going to be,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He has had some challenges this season that he has had to overcome. We’ve talked a bit about being brave as players, and I think Tommy has had to be brave because he’s had injuries and his body just hasn’t cooperated that well with him. “
In fact, La Stella was playing just her 77th game this season after spending three months on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain. That was hardly noticeable on a team that led the National League in trips to the IL, with 37 players needing time off. In all, the Giants lost 1,932 days to injuries.
Posey lost even more. He was left out last season when the pandemic swept the world. He and his wife, Kristen, adopted newborn twins in July 2020, and feared he could bring the coronavirus home to them if he played games. She spent part of the year resting her reluctant right hip and somewhat bracing herself for the 21st. (One of her favorite arm exercises was throwing rolled up diapers at her then 9-year-old son, Lee). Posey reported to Scottsdale, Arizona, this spring, feeling refreshed and ready for the season. He has produced his best year since at least 2017, with an OPS of .889, the best in baseball among regular catchers.
Webb was 15 years old by Posey’s last postseason dinner. So was Camilo Doval, the Guy you’ve never heard of, the number 2 and the Giants’ deadliest relief weapon. Doval, who entered the night with 27 innings pitched in the majors, entered in the top of the ninth inning and retired the Dodgers on nine pitches. His slowest fastball clocked 99.1 mph. Doval spent 2019 at High-A San Jose, then lost nearly a year of development when the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season. San Francisco sent him to Triple-A to start on the 21st anyway, then called him back in April. . He struggled with his command and came back down in May, then came back in August and started shooting hitters. In September, after Doval escaped a jam with no outs with the bases loaded with a three-pitch strikeout and a double play, assistant pitching coach JP Martinez put two fingers on his neck in the dugout to make sure he was up. alive.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, it is. As are the rest of the Giants. And this is what they do.
More MLB coverage:
• Inside Kris Bryant’s trip from Chicago to San Francisco
• Why the Astros are so dangerous in the postseason
• JD Martinez provides spark to propel Red Sox into ALDS
• Lance ‘MacGyver’ McCullers Jr. is emerging as a true postseason ace.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.