A team of 107 wins against a team of 106 wins. They have 109 each taking into account the playoff games. Rivals for 133 seasons, linked not only by their origins in New York but also by their pioneering roles in moving west. Just the fifth case in baseball history where teams with 100 or more wins each will face off in a win-win playoff game.
It’s hard to get much bigger than that.
Who: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
What: Game 5 of a National League Division Series
When: 9:07 p.m. EST
Or: Oracle Park in San Francisco
Why: The winner will advance to the National League Championship Series against Atlanta
How can I watch? The match will be broadcast on TBS. The TBS stream will be available on select streaming services, such as Hulu Live and YouTube TV. It will also be available for some via TBS.com.
Julio Urias of the Dodgers is about as established as a starting pitcher can be. He has made 32 starts this season, with no relief appearances, and went 20-3 with a 2.96 ERA. Then he started and beat the Giants in Game 2 of that divisional series.
Still, his team decided – “from the top of the Dodgers organization to the bottom,” said manager Dave Roberts – that 25-year-old Urias was not the best option to start Game 5 winning. opener, Corey Knebel.
“That doesn’t mean it’s riskier, it’s different,” said Roberts, who texted Giants manager Gabe Kapler last night to let him know. “But that opens the door to potential criticism, which I imagine already exists.”
He’s right about it; it certainly seems like a classic case of a very smart organization going above and beyond. Roberts said Urias was the only starter he would use that way, based on Urias’ track record of flexibility – he’s out of the box for 15 of his 19 career playoff appearances and closed the NLCS and World Series last fall.
Knebel, a former closer to the stars with Milwaukee, did well in four opening tries, allowing one earned run in five and two-thirds innings. He’s a right-hander and Urias is a left-hander.
“The Giants have been a great ball club all year, and just to talk about the offensive end, they’ve been the best team in baseball when it comes to game advantages, field advantages,” said Roberts. adding that the strategy should help “potentially giving us future clashes throughout the game.”
Roberts and the Dodgers front office know their team far better than any fan or member of the media. But it’s still shocking to see, and I asked Roberts about the downside of just letting Urias start, as usual.
“There’s a downside to him starting, if he starts the game, because you might be looking at familiarity,” Roberts said. “He just faced this team five days ago. These guys stack and prepare the games they want.
“There is a downside to proceeding the way we have chosen. Corey has never started a playoff game. But I think at the end of the day we are confident that both players can handle this. “
So this is it. Related Note: Today is the 56th anniversary of Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, when another Dodgers left-hander Sandy Koufax started against the Minnesota Twins. Koufax shot a shutout in nine innings, after two days off.
Baseball is endlessly fascinating, perhaps now more than ever. But boy how times have changed.