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Giants walk-off the Dodgers to take series

The Dodgers gave them all they had and the Giants held the line.

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The most surprising part of the Giants’ 2-1 win over the Dodgers tonight was how it combined every facet of both teams in just nine innings. This was not an all-timer, but in the history of the rivalry, it was one of the most The Rivalry-type games in rivalry history.

By every conceivable measure, the Dodgers are vastly superior to the Giants. But the Giants still had Madison Bumgarner starting tonight, and for all the talk of his decline you’d figure he’d still show some gumption and fiery spirit for at least an inning or two against the team he’s faced the second-most times in his major league career (the honor of first goes to the Padres). Instead, he pitched six innings of vintage Madison Bumgarner.

Eight strikeouts, two walks, four hits in 114 pitches, and hit 93 mph with his fastball multiple times. He threw the fastball 67 times, something he hasn’t done in quite a long time. His reliance on the cutter was part of his undoing in April, so going away from that to stick with the fastball was a great move, considering he was able to throw it a tick faster than usual.

He was perfect through the first three innings, then immediately found himself in trouble to start off the fourth inning. He got through it with a strikeout, groundout, and another strikeout — Max Muncy with the bases loaded. He needed 32 pitches to get through that inning, but he did it without allowing a run and without giving in to the hitters. That’s vintage Bumgarner.

It wasn’t all vintage, though, and that’s why this game stands out so much. True, Buster Posey hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to win it and that really stands out, but the Giants were in that situation because of everything that happened in that top of the sixth inning, which was all very 2019 Giantsy.

Enrique Hernandez, surprising no one, doubled off a curveball that caught too much of the plate, and just beating Tyler Austin’s wobbly throw from left field. Bumgarner followed that with a strike out of Corey Seager on a two-seam fastball away. After getting Justin Turner to fly out on a high fastball, it looked like this vintage Bumgarner performance was close to being that way start to finish.

And then this happened:

Let’s go back to the premise of tonight’s game: we saw the best that both teams had to offer, and we saw the worst the Giants had to offer, too (the Dodgers are practically perfect in every way). Cody Bellinger did not hit a home run tonight, but this was his one hit. The RBI and home run leader hustled down the line and didn’t give up on the play. I mean... look at how good this guy is:

He’s slugging .890 and he’s got 7 infield hits through the first month of the season.

Anyway —

Madison Bumgarner snapped forward in time from the 2016 Wild Card Game — the last time, according to this tweet, that he threw his fastball the majority of the time — to the 2019 Giants, a team that makes the kind of mental mistakes and misplays that he wound up making on this very play. He just didn’t think to cover first base.

Brandon Belt was slow to get up after the play, so there was a momentary fear that not only did Bumgarner’s lack of hustle lead to a run, it might’ve led to an injury that counted for nothing. It has been the recipe all season long — the Giants have ruined their chances of winning a given gave nearly as often as the other team.

And then Bruce Bochy left Madison Bumgarner in the game to finish the inning, requiring 10 more pitches to face Russell Martin and Max Muncy, and with the inning ending on a 100 mph groundout to Yangervis Solarte, that Statcast put an expected batting average of .500 on — the game could’ve unwound completely there. It has before.

In the top of the seventh inning, Brandon Crawford simply muffed a 98.8 mph groundball off the bat of Chris Taylor, putting Reyes Moronta right into the stretch. Alex Verdugo followed up with a single to put runners at first and second, and the feeling behind the game settled into a much more familiar vibe. Ah, this is the game we’ve seen most of the year.

It didn’t look like the Dodgers were going to stop being the 2019 Dodgers, which is exactly what these Giants couldn’t afford. And then Chris Taylor stole third base and Corey Seager stole second base a batter later, but around all that, Reyes Moronta returned to form to strike out Hernandez and Corey Seager.

There is no such thing as a vintage Reyes Moronta performance — the Giants are hoping to create such a persona very soon, however, and nights like tonight will go a long way towards building up that legend.

For one night, the Giants were able to revisit their own legend status against the Dodgers and earned a hard fought win. The type of win that reminds you that baseball can be fun and joy is also part of the baseball viewing experience. Even in 2019.

While we all love Oracle Park, we might need to reconsider some things about it. The park isn’t perfect. In any other baseball stadium, Brandon Belt’s flyout in the bottom of the first inning would’ve been a home run and would’ve given the Giants a 3-0 lead.

Hyun-Jin Ryu was shaky to start off the game but then settled in as soon as he was gifted with this out:

Triples Alley... you’re on notice.

Steven Duggar started the ninth inning rally that won the game by battling lefty Julio Urias and really just hitting the ball hard up the middle. 104.3 mph was the sixth-hardest hit ball of the game. Gerardo Parra followed that up with a single — two hits by the lefties — before Brandon Belt {deep sigh} struck out.

Posey pulled a fastball away into left field and were it not for the Giants having the fastest player on the team at second base, they might not have won the game right there. Duggar just beat Chris Taylor’s throw, because the Dodgers are perfect and do everything right.

The Giants did not do everything right tonight, but they sure as heck gave the Dodgers everything they had, the same as they did Monday night. For this series, it was just good enough, and when you think about the season to this point, that’s a really nice thought.