Heavy winds whipped the assembled flags located in centerfield. Palm trees swayed to and frow. Debris blew across the diamond like withered leaves across the backyard on an Autumn day. For nine relentless innings, the Santa Ana winds ripped through Dodger Stadium, and with it, the Dodgers offense disappeared into the night sky.
Evan Longoria’s fifth inning homer was the only offense on the night and it lifted the San Francisco Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Monday night at Dodger Stadium. The Giants can now close out the best-of-five series on Tuesday.
Game 3 of the NLDS featured a good ol’ fashioned pitcher’s duel. On one side was future Hall-of-Famer Max Scherzer, on the other was former Dodger Alex Wood. Both starters took turns matching zeroes for the better part of five innings.
The shutouts for both teams changed with the rapidity of a child’s kaleidoscope in the top of the fifth inning. Scherzer got ahead of Longoria with two quick strikes. However, Scherzer couldn’t put away the wily veteran on his next two pitches—both of them fouled off—on the fifth and final pitch of the at-bat, catcher Will Smith asked for a fastball high and away. Scherzer left it over the heart of the plate.
The wind, which killed balls like a swift serpent throughout the night, was no match for Longoria’s scorcher that landed in the left-field seats. It was Longoria’s first postseason home run since Game 3 of the ALDS in 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rays, and it turned a scoreless tie into a 1-0 Giants lead.
Turned out, it was the only run the Giants would need on this uncharacteristically gusty night in Southern California.
Wood dominated the Dodgers lineup, allowing just two hits, with two walks and four strikeouts in 4.2 shutout innings of work.
Both of the Dodgers hits against Wood came off the bat of 41-year-old slugger Albert Pujols, who became the oldest player since Julio Franco (45) in 2003 to have a multi-hit game in the playoffs.
Speaking of old-timers, the 37-year-old Scherzer became the oldest Dodgers’ pitcher to strike out 10 or more hitters in a postseason game since Sal Maglie in Game 1 of the 1956 World Series.
Scherzer was equally dominant, allowing just the one run on three hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts in seven strong innings. Unfortunately, he suffered his first loss since joining the Dodgers at the trade deadline on July 31.
The excuses were plentiful after the game, the wind, Wood, the Giants’ stout defense, but at the end of the day the Dodgers offense has been inconsistent all season long. Less than 48 hours after a nine-run explosion, they wilted in the wake of a familiar foe. Now their backs are against the wall as they face elimination for the first time since Game 5 of the 2020 NLCS against the Atlanta Braves in the Bubble.
Thankfully, we all know how that series ended.
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