SAN FRANCISCO – The Dodgers’ late decision to use reliever Corey Knebel as an opener, and the Achilles tendon status of Giants second baseman Tommy La Stella, have caused San Francisco to delay finalizing a lineup until ’90 minutes before the game 5.
The result: La Stella’s ankle worked well in batting practice, so he’s in the lead and playing on second base. The Giants had planned to pitch right-hander Donovan Solano on second base against left-hander Julio Urias. Instead, Solano will likely appear later. They kept right-hander Darin Ruf in the lineup on second strike and playing left field and sprinkled three left-handed sticks throughout: La Stella, Brandon Crawford (hitting fourth and playing shortstop) and Mike Yastrzemski ( sixth and playing right field).
When Urias started Game 2, the Giants stacked their roster with righties against him. Crawford was the only southpaw to start, and he hit sixth. The top five hitters against Urias that day were all right-handed: Ruf, Kris Bryant, Austin Slater, Buster Posey and Wilmer Flores.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sent a courtesy message to San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler on Wednesday evening, advising him of the decision to pitch Knebel instead of Urias.
“It’s understandable,” Kapler said of the Dodgers’ late decision. “I don’t think it’s unexpected. It certainly changes the way we thought about today’s game, but nothing fancy. “
Oct. 14, 2021, 8:30 p.m. ET
SAN FRANCISCO – The Dodgers’ other roster change, the one not involving an opener and former starter Julio Urias, was telegraphed by manager Dave Roberts after Game 4 and could be a game-changer.
Gavin Lux, a 23-year-old rookie, is sixth at bat and starts in center field. He reached base in all four home plate appearances in Game 4 (two singles, two walks, one run). It was Lux’s first start after close appearances in each of the first three games.
Two notable elements:
When Giants rookie right-hander Logan Webb dominated the Dodgers in Game 1, Lux fired a bouncer at Webb in a strikeout appearance in the eighth inning. For his career, Lux is 1 for 5 with a brace and one strikeout against Webb, who starts Thursday.
The Dodgers’ 1-0 defeat in Game 3 in the breeze at Dodger Stadium ended with Lux smashing a ball into left field that both teams thought would go over the fence. Lux burned the ball at 106.9 mph and the game looked like it was heading for extra innings.
Lux also couldn’t believe the wind had gotten it so dramatically, and her reaction exploded on social media overnight.
“As we go through Twitter, there are a lot of memes going around,” Lux said. “And I feel like everyone’s making a meme out of me anyway, because of all the facial reactions I have. But that’s how I am. “
Tonight Lux will be on the pitch rather than the bench.
“I love the heartbeat, the poise,” said Roberts after Game 4. “Just watching him take the sticks is like a guy who played in the playoffs a lot more than him.” Roberts added that the way Lux behaved in this setting “is very telling.”
Oct. 14, 2021, 8:00 p.m. ET
SAN FRANCISCO – Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully is (sadly) retired and not on the squad, but that hasn’t stopped him from Tweeter that he thinks the fifth game tonight is “the most important game” in the history of the rivalry between the Dodgers and the Giants.
“Now I feel the pressure,” joked Dodgers manager Dave Roberts when Scully’s tweet reached him. “Damn it, Vin.
On a more serious note, Roberts added, “For Vin to say that, no one knows this rivalry better than him, so that just gives you the seriousness of it, what it means. And it’s more than a game. and that’s what’s beautiful about this rivalry, sport in general. So we’re going to enjoy it. It’s going to be fun. “
Oct. 14, 2021, 7:30 p.m. ET
A team of 107 wins against a team of 106 wins. They have 109 each taking into account the playoff games. Rivals for 133 seasons, linked not only by their origins in New York but also by their pioneering roles in moving west. Just the fifth case in baseball history where teams with 100 or more wins each will face off in a winner’s playoff game.
It’s hard to get much bigger than that.
Who: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
What: Game 5 of a National League Division Series
When: 9:07 p.m. EST
Or: Oracle Park in San Francisco
Why: The winner will advance to the National League Championship Series against Atlanta
How can I watch? The match will be broadcast on TBS. The TBS stream will be available on select streaming services, such as Hulu Live and YouTube TV. It will also be available for some via TBS.com.
Oct. 14, 2021, 7:30 p.m. ET
SAN FRANCISCO – Julio Urias of the Dodgers is about as established as a starting pitcher can be. He’s made 32 starts this season, with no relief appearances, and went 20-3 with a 2.96 ERA. Then he started and beat the Giants in Game 2 of that divisional series.
Yet his team decided – “from the top of the Dodgers organization to the bottom,” manager Dave Roberts said – that Urias, 25, was not the best option to start the winner’s game. 5. They will go with an opener, Corey Gag.
“That doesn’t mean it’s riskier, it’s different,” said Roberts, who texted Giants manager Gabe Kapler last night to let him know. “But that opens the door to potential criticism, which I imagine already exists.”
He’s right about it; it certainly seems to be a classic case of a very smart organization going above and beyond. Roberts said Urias was the only starter he would use that way, based on Urias’ track record of flexibility – he came out of the reliever box for 15 of his 19 playoff appearances in career and closed the NLCS and World Series last fall.
Knebel, a former closer to the stars with Milwaukee, did well in four opening tries, allowing one earned run in five and two-thirds innings. He’s a right-hander and Urias is a left-hander.
“The Giants have been a great ball club all year round, and just to talk about the offensive end, they’ve been the best team in baseball when it comes to game advantages, field advantages,” said Roberts. adding that the strategy should help “potentially giving us clashes to come throughout the game.”
Roberts and the Dodgers front office know their team far better than any fan or member of the media. But it’s still shocking to see, and I asked Roberts about the downside of just letting Urias start, as usual.
“There’s a downside to him starting, if he was to start the game, because you could watch familiarity,” said Roberts. “He just faced this team five days ago. These guys stack and prepare the games they want.
“There is a downside to proceeding the way we have chosen. Corey has never started a playoff game. But I think at the end of the day we are confident that both players can handle this. “
So this is it. Related Note: Today is the 56th anniversary of Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, when another Dodgers left-hander Sandy Koufax started against the Minnesota Twins. Koufax shot a shutout in nine innings, on two days off.
Baseball is endlessly fascinating, perhaps now more than ever. But boy how times have changed.