Los Angeles Dodgers

Giants lineup: Outfield makes up first three batters vs Darvish, Dodgers

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USATSI

Giants lineup: Outfield makes up first three batters vs Darvish, Dodgers

In the Giants' series finale against the Dodgers, Bruce Bochy is looking at his outfield to set the tone offensively.

Los Angeles Dodgers (93-52)

1. Chris Taylor (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Cody Bellinger (L) 1B
5. Logan Forsythe (R) 2B
6. Austin Barnes (R) C
7. Kike Hernandez (R) LF
8. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
9. Yu Darvish (R) P

San Francisco Giants (57-90)

1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
3. Denard Span (L) CF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Nick Hundley (R) C
7. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
8. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
9. Matt Moore (L) P

***

Series of Giants mistakes allows Dodgers to overcome 'Tommy-ball'

Series of Giants mistakes allows Dodgers to overcome 'Tommy-ball'

SAN FRANCISCO — In three plate appearances against the best pitcher in the world, Kelby Tomlinson had a homer, single and walk. He also made a spectacular play up the middle that ranks as one of his best as a big leaguer. 

“It was a little bit of Tommy-ball tonight,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Tomlinson was not able to fully enjoy his night. The Giants weren’t able to celebrate him, either. Tomlinson’s game also included one of several defensive mistakes the Giants made behind Johnny Cueto, and they never recovered. Clayton Kershaw got the first 18 outs and Kenley Jansen got the final four as the Dodgers edged the Giants 5-3, ending their 11-game losing streak. 

The Dodgers officially clinched a postseason spot after two weeks of confusion. The Giants officially became the first MLB team to 90 losses. 

Three plays stood out as the Giants fell behind 4-1. Hunter Pence drifted toward a pop-up to shallow right and watched as it dropped behind Joe Panik. That misplay cost Cueto 10 grueling pitches on a night when he felt like his old self. An inning later, Austin Slater whiffed on Kershaw’s liner to left that turned into a double. Tomlinson tried to get Kershaw at third on an ensuing grounder, but his throw was wide. Kershaw would come around to score, and the Dodgers would tack on two more. 

The sequence taught two lessons … 

First of all, the official scorekeeping rules are dumb. Neither ball to the outfield was ruled an error, and despite getting what should have been four outs in the fourth, Cueto was charged with four earned runs. 

The second lesson: “You’re going against one of the elite pitchers in the game,” Bochy said. “With somebody as good as Kershaw, you’ve got to play your best ball, and we didn’t do that.”

The Giants rarely have this season. The 90-loss year is their first since 2008 and it has included so many nights like this one. There was plenty of good, but the bad moments outweighed the highlights. Tomlinson was left shaking his head after what could have been a career night. 

“I really wanted to get that one,” he said of the missed out at third. “I tried to make a play and it didn’t work out. It makes it tough when you look back at the end of the game.”

The Dodgers are in such a tailspin that they didn’t even realize they had clinched a postseason spot until after their postgame handshake line. MLB’s computers did more work during the game and realized that their previously stated tiebreaker scenarios were off. 

“We’re in the postseason?” Dave Roberts asked Dodgers reporters. 

The Giants have known for months that they won't be. They are playing spoiler, and they missed an opportunity to add a little more pain to a brutal September for their rivals. A clear single to right and two infield singles to the mound loaded the bases against Jansen in the ninth, but Buster Posey swung through a cutter right down the heart of the plate and Nick Hundley struck out for the 10th time in 10 career at-bats against Jansen. 

Dodgers showing their fans how caring excessively about a team can suck

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AP

Dodgers showing their fans how caring excessively about a team can suck

Omens are for fools, and cheap movies, and lazy plot points. They are a triumph of lazy thinking and belief that there is a controlling power who actually gives a fraction of damn about what happens in your life, no matter how small or meaningless.

But if I were the Los Angeles Dodgers, I might start thinking about taping down the windows just in case.

They lost again Monday night, this time 8-6 to the freefalling San Franciscos. They have lost 11 games in succession and 16 of 17. Their game in HappyTown didn’t start until nearly 8 p.m. and subsequent delays were longer than the game itself because of a lighting storm that looked like it came to San Francisco because it was tired of waiting in the queue over Florida. The game ended at 2:11 a.m., which isn't even a fit time to close a bar.

And for all that, the Dodgers can still clinch a playoff position Tuesday if they offend the gods and win while St. Louis loses at home to Cincinnati and Milwaukee loses in Pittsburgh.

Yeah, omens.

The Dodgers’ stunning run of bad form is in its way more amazing than Cleveland’s 19-game winning streak, and as rancid as they have been, they remain nine games ahead of the second-place Arizonas in the NL West, and are 3½ games better than resurgent Washington in the overall race. They may use all their massive cushion to get this done, but they will still end up a playoff team, a division winner and quite possibly the home field defender.

This is not the way to bet, and there has been three weeks of evidence to suggest that the last of those three won’t happen at all. You don’t lose 16 of 17 games for no reason, and you don’t go from 13½ games ahead of the field to 3½ without badly losing your way.

But there is a very real possibility that the Dodgers could be an official playoff team this evening anyway, and find themselves confronted by a style conundrum.

Do they ignore the last three weeks, remember their long proud history with the Giants and celebrate on the field just to honor the rivalry by shoving the Giants’ faces in it? Or do they play it cool because the petty concerns of a rivalry with a team 36 games behind you are unworthy of notice?

Or does manager Dave Roberts say, as Bruce Bochy has in happier times for him, “You celebrate whenever you can because this stuff is hard to do,” and let the out-of-state pundits mock as they see fit?

Either way, this should happen just for the hilarity and upset feelings. And if the Dodgers still haven’t clinched anything by the time they leave, they should lose all the rest of their games. Because, let’s face it, this isn’t about the Dodgers, or the Giants, or the playoffs. It’s about us, and the value we place in non-violent chaos and undifferentiated shame. I consider it the best two reasons to follow sports, and you should, too. After all, the Dodgers are showing their fans just how much caring excessively about a team can suck.