Strong gusts of wind roared in from midfield well before sunset and continued through the late innings Monday night. They buffeted the bad poles and turned the usually pleasant Chavez Ravine into a swirling pot that felt and played more like the San Francisco waterfront or even the old Candlestick Park.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were at home, but they were out of their element – and they therefore played in a loss that sent the defending World Series champions on the verge of elimination.
The Dodgers managed just five singles in a 1-0 loss to the Giants on Monday night in Game 3 of the NL Division Series. The formidable lineup that led the NL with 830 runs and hit 237 homers in the normal season has been shut out twice in three games against San Francisco — and in the crucible of a best-of-five series, it’s a huge problem.
For the second time in the series, the Dodgers were unable to get the timely, dramatic hits that have marked so much of their post-season success, while winning three NL pennants and a ring over the previous four seasons. Even going against modest former Dodgers starter Alex Wood, whose fastest pitch did not reach 90 km / h, was too much for this unbeatable powerhouse in blue.
Gavin Lux thought he had broken through with two outs in the ninth and lifted his arm in celebration after hitting a 106.9 mph drive to the left-center. Statcast estimated the hit would be a homer 69% of the time, with an .890 expected hit average. Instead, it barely reached the warning track and fell into Steven Duggar’s glove.
Los Angeles hit 30 homers and scored 101 runs en route to the World Series title last season, but a Game 3 lineup with six returning position players from 2020 was no better than the group that was blanked in Game 1 in San Francisco.
The Dodgers knocked out nine races while winning Game 2, but they managed just three singles in the first six innings of Game 3, including two from 41-year-old first baseman Albert Pujols.
The Giants had a lot to do with the Los Angeles offensive ineptitude, especially in the seventh inning. Two Dodgers reached the base with one out, but former Dodgers relief Jake McGee came on and beat Austin Barnes.
Mookie Betts then stuck a 100.4 mph line drive toward left and shortstop Brandon Crawford, a UCLA product, snagging it with a perfectly timed jump.
Betts was also robbed of a hit by Crawford earlier when the shortstop snared a sharply hit grounder for the final out of the fifth.
Los Angeles went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position, but failed to get through the few times as it was important. Regular post-season hero Max Muncy is injured and does not play in this series, but plenty of former Dodgers season heroes – Justin Turner, World Series MVP Corey Seager, Chris Taylor and Betts – have all run out of playoff magic.
The Dodgers quickly went into ninth with a 1-2-3 exit for Taylor, AJ Pollock and Lux.
LA’s power outage was not caused by the unusually strong winds that bent the palms and sent the temperature plummeting, but it has put the Dodgers in a tight position on their way into Game 4 Tuesday night.
A particularly unruly gust of wind shot Max Scherzer partially off the mound in the first inning, but the Dodgers still got everything they had expected and demanded of the veteran right-hander who threw seven innings with three strokes with 10 strikeouts.
Still, LA’s big trade deadline finally took its very first loss in a Dodgers uniform thanks to his teammates ‘inability to hit Wood and the Giants’ bullpen.
The 37-year-old Scherzer had his fifth career after 10 seasons and he became the first pitcher in major league history to achieve the feat for three different teams.
But unless Los Angeles rallies for two wins over San Francisco, Scherzer will head to unlimited free agency this winter – along with Clayton Kershaw, Taylor and closer to Kenley Jansen, among others – with disappointment everywhere after the Dodgers’ play to land the ace and Trea Turner could not generate post-season success.
Game 4 is set for 6:07 p.m. Tuesday in Chavez Ravine.
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