LOS ANGELES -- In case the Los Angeles Dodgers needed a reminder of what the playoffs feel like, they got 13 innings to study up on it over the course of their 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants Monday night. They just hope things have happier endings as the pressure ramps up in the coming weeks.
The Dodgers had nearly as many errors (three) as hits (four) and yet played deep into the night before the Giants rallied for three runs off Kevin Correia to win it. Now the Dodgers have to win the next two games in order to clinch the NL West with their bitter rivals on the field.
The game drew an announced crowd of 53,500, the largest to see a major league game this season, slightly eclipsing the Dodgers’ Opening Day draw. The atmosphere was loud at times and quietly tense at others, giving the game a playoff-like feel.
How it happened: The Dodgers had some issues catching the ball and fell behind 2-0 after three innings, but veteran Dan Haren battled through it, allowing just one hit in seven innings, and Carl Crawford finally sparked the offense with a leadoff home run in the fifth inning. That was the first hit Giants starter Jake Peavy had allowed. The Dodgers added another run after Juan Uribe blooped a double and scored on Dee Gordon’s sacrifice fly.
Even as the teams failed to score late, the innings were filled with tension. The Giants threatened in both the 10th and 11th innings, but Brandon League got an inning-ending double play to escape one jam, and Yasiel Puig made an absurdly accurate throw to gun down Brandon Belt trying to score on Brandon Crawford’s single to center in the next.
After Puig’s throw, which reached catcher Drew Butera’s mitt on the fly directly in the path of Belt’s slide, the big crowd chanted, “Puig! Puig!”
Hits: When Pablo Sandoval hit a slicing fly ball to Crawford in the sixth inning, it gave Haren six innings pitched in the game and 180 innings pitched on the season. That triggered a player option for 2015 at $10 million. Haren has said he isn’t sure he’ll play next season. If he does, it’s far from an outrageous contract for a pitcher who has produced the numbers Haren has (13-11, 4.03 ERA). Despite the Dodgers’ poor defense behind him, Haren gave them every opportunity to win a crucial game.
Misses: In the third inning, Puig and Matt Kemp converged on Gregor Blanco’s high fly ball to right-center field. Both players appeared to call for it and neither backed off, so the ball ended up glancing off Kemp’s glove for a three-base error that led to a run. Kemp, who had been the Dodgers’ hottest run producer on the road trip, also cooled off at the plate, going 0-for-5, striking out twice against Peavy and ending an inning with a double play. The Dodgers were worried about communications issues when Puig moved over to center, but it hadn’t become much of an issue until Monday night. It’s something they’ll have to straighten out before the playoffs. The last time Puig and Kemp were seen speaking to each other in public, Kemp was yelling at Puig in Colorado for failing to take an extra base.
Stat of the game: When Hanley Ramirez hit a double Sunday at Wrigley Field, he became the fourth Dodger this season to reach the 35-double mark. It’s the first time in franchise history that four players reached 35 doubles in a season. Adrian Gonzalez has 40, Yasiel Puig has 37 and Matt Kemp has 36.