SAN FRANCISCO — At this rate, the Dodgers and Giants will reach the end of the weekend like a pair of punched-out prizefighters, unable to raise their arms to do more than cuff the other one gently across the cheek.
Down to their last out in the top of the ninth, the Dodgers tied the score on an RBI single by Chris Taylor, took a lead in the top of the 10th only to have the Giants match it and win, 3-2, in 11 innings on Friday night to move back into sole possession of first place in the NL West.
The winning run scored with the bases loaded and two outs in the 11th when Trea Turner handled a ground ball to his left but his throw pulled Will Smith – all of Manager Dave Roberts’ maneuvering having landed the Dodgers catcher at first base – off the base. It required a lengthy replay review to confirm the call.
It was actually a pretty straightforward game for most of the night. The Dodgers were held to two hits over six innings by Anthony DeSclafani and shut out for eight.
Then things got weird.
After Taylor tied the game in the top of the ninth, Kenley Jansen threw 21 pitches and only eight of them were strikes – in a scoreless bottom of the ninth.
Albert Pujols went to second base as the “free runner” in the top of the 10th – not the player MLB had in mind when it sought ways to speed up play in extra innings. But Pujols tagged up at second base on a fly ball to center field and chugged – no other verb will do – into third safely.
Walker Buehler pinch ran for Pujols and scored the go-ahead run on another fly ball – a run that wouldn’t have scored without Pujols’ tag.
David Price was scheduled to start for the Dodgers on Friday or at least take down multiple innings. But the Dodgers lost the bulk in their bullpen-game plans when a sore elbow sidelined Price. Instead, Roberts engaged in a pitchers’ duel – innings and arms dueling to see which would run out first.
Roberts ran through them all, using 11 pitchers – 12 if you count Buehler’s pinch-running appearance – leaving only Price, Julio Urias and Max Scherzer unused.
Acquired from the Minnesota Twins in a minor-league trade earlier this week, Andrew Vasquez made his Dodgers debut in the bottom of the 10th and gave up an RBI single to Brandon Crawford to tie the score.
The Dodgers’ 11th pitcher of the night, Evan Phillips (who has spent as much time on their injured list as the Dodgers’ active roster), got out of that without further damage.
But the Dodgers failed to cash in their “free runner” in the top of the 11th – the absence of Pujols’ dynamic baserunning proving costly.
In the bottom of the 11th, Phillips nearly escaped a bases-loaded situation when he got Alex Dickerson to bounce what looked like an inning-ending grounder to Trea Turner.
More to come on this story.