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The most important Giants/Dodgers series of the last 15 years

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A list of the times when it was appropriate to freak out, including this one.

USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers are 1½ games back, and they're coming into AT&T Park to play a series against the Giants. Just another series in July. Just one team visiting another team for three games. Worst that can happen? The Giants are just a half-game behind where they were at the All-Star Break.

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I don't even see what the big deal is, really.

It might be a little important. We'll see.

This means it's time to look at the most important Giants/Dodgers series since AT&T Park opened. Why since then? Because it's already 12:30 and I'm hungry. Also, the Giants were courteous enough to move into AT&T in a nice, round year, which will always make for a convenient cutoff point.

The rules:

  1. Both teams have to be in contention for the series to be considered

  2. August and September series count more, obviously

  3. Tommy Lasorda is awful

There really haven't been a lot of these series. Since 2000, one team has been in first with a lead of three games or fewer in July or later just four times entering a series. I didn't know of a more elegant way to jam all those qualifiers in one sentence, so here are the basics: July or later; Dodgers or Giants in first; the other team within three games. It's happened in just three seasons out of the last 15 now. Here are those series since 2000.

Honorable mention: 2002 (In SF)

This one doesn't fit the exact parameters because the Diamondbacks were in first place, with the Dodgers 1½ behind and the Giants were two back.

Game 1, July 19 -- Giants 3, Dodgers 2
Game 2, July 20 -- Dodgers 4, Giants 2
Game 3, July 21 -- Giants 6, Dodgers 4

The Dodgers left the series still 1½ behind, with the Giants picking up a game. In the first game, Tom Goodwin had a game-winning single off Guillermo Mota in the 12th inning, set up by David Bell dusty-bunting J.T. Snow to second. See? Bunting always works. And we never heard from Mota again.

2004

Series #1 (in SF)
Game 1, Sept. 24 -- Dodgers 3, Giants 2
Game 2, Sept. 25 -- Giants 9, Dodgers 5
Game 3, Sept. 26 -- Dodgers 7, Giants 4

The Giants came into the series 1½ behind the Dodgers, and they left 2½ behind. The Dodgers hit two dingers against Kirk Rueter in the fourth inning of the opener, and that's the only scoring they needed. After two quick outs, Eric Gagne walked the bases loaded in the ninth before Yorvit Torrealba lined out to end the game.

/punches wall

I hated that game so much.

Brett Tomko and Wayne Franklin gave up a bunch of runs in the third game. I hated that game, too.

Series #2 (in LA)
Game 1, Oct. 1 -- Giants 4, Dodgers 2
Game 2, Oct. 2 -- Dodgers 7, Giants 3
Game 3, Oct. 3 -- Giants 10, Dodgers 0

The Giants needed to sweep these three games to force a tie in the division. The Giants were up 3-0 going into the ninth, when Dustin Hermanson and his stupid sideburns gave up a single and walked three before being pulled. Then Jason Christiansen induced a double-play grounder to defensive replacement Cody Ransom, who booted the ball. A non-furry Jayson Werth singled, and then man-buzzard Steve Finley hit a grand slam against Wayne Franklin, who was legitimately one of the worst pitchers in Giants history.

This was one of the greatest games in Dodger history.

Was tempted to make the second link in that series a Lemon Party link. Still am.

Do not Google that.

I was working that day, so I actually didn't get to see it. It's how I can actually write this post without breaking things. It's like the old saying: "When your season relies on Wayne Franklin, your season relies on Wayne Franklin."

2012

Series #1 (in SF)
Game 1, July 27 -- Dodgers 5, Giants 3
Game 2, July 28 -- Dodgers 10, Giants 0
Game 3, July 29 -- Dodgers 4, Giants 0

The Dodgers entered the series three back. They left the series tied, with Clayton Kershaw pitching a shutout in the final game. The Giants scored three runs in the series. Melky Cabrera was suspended two weeks later. All was lost. All was lost. The Giants would never win another game, eventually breaking up because of creative differences. The last I heard, they were playing local teams at carnivals around the country, staying in barns for the promise of food and shelter.

Here's what I wrote:

But I think there's a chance -- a chance -- that this sweep burrows deep into the brains of important front-office types and starts chewing on some wires. Not in a conscious way. But as the deadline approaches, and they receive a counter-offer to a proposal they made for Hunter Pence, and they start adding up the pros and cons and risks and rewards and costs and benefits, this sweep could directly influence the team into making a move, even if they wouldn't admit it. The answer to the question of "Do we really *need* Hunter Pence?" sure seems like it'd be different today than it was on Thursday.

Thank goodness the Giants freaked out and told themselves they needed Hunter Pence.

On a related note, this was what the Simpsons looked like the last time the Dodgers won the World Series:


Series #2 (in LA)

Game 1, Aug. 20 -- Giants 2, Dodgers 1
Game 2, Aug. 21 -- Giants 4, Dodgers 2
Game 3, Aug. 22 -- Giants 8, Dodgers 3

I just rubbed my computer screen all over my torso, hoping that the mention of these three games will make me smell better. The Giants were a half-game behind the Dodgers, who were about to make a monstrous, blockbuster deal to get Adrian Gonzalez.

Madison Bumgarner pitched eight scoreless innings in the first game, out-dueling Kershaw, who allowed a sac fly and RBI single to Pablo Sandoval. The Giants took a half-game lead.

In the second game, Tim Lincecum, possibly the worst starting pitcher in baseball that year, threw 5⅓ innings and allowed just one run. The bullpen shut the Dodgers down. The Giants were up by 1½.

In the third game, Joaquin Arias took over, just like we're used to.


The Giants were up by 2½ games, and they would win the division by eight.

On a related note, this was a popular song on the Billboard charts the last time the Dodgers won the World Series:



I really enjoyed that second series. I'll be honest with you.

2014

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

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AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

No pressure, Giants. Just another series.

I will have a drink now.