SAN FRANCISCO — Almost always positive and upbeat, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wasn’t there after Game 1 of this National League Division series. While everyone else raved about the San Francisco starter Logan Webb Dominance, Roberts followed. He was not so much bothered by the results as what he saw as the undisciplined approach of his hitters.
“To be quite honest, we didn’t make adjustments,” complained Roberts.
He continued: “We chased after more than we should have. If you don’t make adjustments, they’ll keep going down the well.”
When faced with top-shelf pitching like the Giants, it’s certainly easier said than done. But things began to change for the Dodgers in the second inning of Game 2. By the time he put it in the late innings of a series-evening 9-2 win, he had plenty of reason to feel good about going home for Game 3 with Max Scherzer on the mound.
“It’s interesting how the narrative changes from game to game,” an even more Chipper Roberts said late Saturday, before continuing: “It’s a three-game series, we have a home-field advantage and we’ve got Max. But the mound’s got there. So I like where we are.”
The Dodgers’ game plan against legendary veteran Kevin Gossman was deceptively simple: don’t chase pitches outside the strike zone and don’t bite a right-handed split-finger fastball if it’s diving low toward the dirt. Gossman threw a splitter 35.4 percent of the time this summer, second only to his four-seam fastball, which he threw 52.7 percent of the time.
The Dodgers started the second innings with the help of a surprise spot in the lineup. After Chris Taylor doubled, struggling Cody Bellinger chased down one of Gossman’s splitters for strike three. Gossman fell behind Dodgers’ eighth-place hitter AJ Pollock with a 2–0 count, and with two outs and Taylor in the scoring range, Giants manager Gabe Kapler ordered a deliberate walk, Gossman’s matchup against pitcher Julio Uriás. took the side.
But on a 1-1 count, Gaussman, who had rivals this season for a .154 batting average with runners in the scoring position, dropped a split-finger fastball into the zone and Uris, a .190 career hitter Tagged it for an RBI single to right field.
“Maybe it’s a bad analogy, but it’s like Steph Curry watching someone walk in,” Dodgers outfielder Mookie Bates said of that first Dodgers run. “We just had to watch a plate pass.”
The Dodgers, who were locked out in Game 1, scored four more runs in Saturday’s sixth inning, with two-run doubles from Bellinger and Pollock ambushing Dominic Lyon on consecutive pitches.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Dodgers defied the Giants’ hopes of a comeback with two sensational defensive plays: Tree Turner dove behind second base to hit a Wilmer Flores ground ball and force Buster Posey onto the bag. For this flipped it on Corey Seeger. A batter later, Brandon Crawford sang to the right and Flores made the bad decision of trying to go first-to-third, only to get wiped out by a laser throw of Bates From deep right field.
The Giants and Dodgers hadn’t played in a postseason game since 1889—a year before the Dodgers joined the National League—and both teams are looking to make up for lost time in heroics.
“It reminds me of the Red Sox and the Yankees,” said Bates, a former Boston outfielder. “It’s similar to that, but only in the National League. And it’s a great rivalry to be a part of and I’m grateful to be a part of.”
As for Roberts’ statement about the narrative that changes from game to game, Pollock thinks this is fairly simple math.
“When you score nine runs, obviously everyone will feel that your approach was good,” he said. “And when you put a zero, no one will like it.”