Early in the season I was happy that the Dodgers were absent, and wanted them to stay at a distance for as long as possible. The Giants were, surprisingly, banking wins, and I cherished the idea of them doing so for as long as possible before the inevitable struggles that would come when the scheduled tightened.
Now I feel differently. This is not the team that started the season 8-4, with half of those wins being by a single run. This is not a fun mirage that allows you to briefly entertain the thought of competitiveness before being swiftly shut down by the powerhouse atop the division.
This is a good team. A genuinely good team. A team that, well past the quarter mark of the season, is sporting baseball’s best record and fourth-best run differential.
Now, instead of viewing the first Dodgers series as the rude awakening and the end of the mirage, I see it as a test. A challenge. An opportunity.
The Giants banked enough wins to enter the series two games up on LA. Now they get their first crack at proving that this is an honest race. Maybe the Giants have been pedal to the metal and already used their NOS button while the Dodgers are still tooling about in second gear waiting to flip the switch.
But maybe not.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Where: Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
When: Friday (6:45 p.m.), Saturday (4:15 p.m.), and Sunday (1:15 p.m.)
National broadcasts: Saturday (Fox)
Where they stand
San Francisco Giants
Record: 28-16, 1st in the NL West
Run differential: +57, 2nd in the NL
Postseason standing: 1st seed
Momentum: 5-game winning streak, 8-2 in their last 10
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 26-18, 3rd in the NL West
Run differential: +61, 1st in the NL
Postseason standing: 2nd Wild Card, 1 game behind 1st Wild Card, 1 game behind NL West
Momentum: 4-game winning streak, 8-2 in their last 10
Three Giants to watch
Buster Posey: When I think of the Giants rivalry with the Dodgers, I think of Buster Posey first and foremost. Maybe it’s because, after tonight’s game, Posey will have played a full 162-game season against the Dodgers in his career. Maybe it’s because he was the unparalleled superstar the last time San Francisco was the big dog in the rivalry’s yard. Maybe it’s because Posey just feels like the essence of the Giants, and so does the rivalry.
Either way, I always turn to Posey when it’s SF vs. LA and, if you haven’t been paying attention this season, turning to Posey is a really good idea right now. After Curt Casali played twice in the last series — and took a series of fastballs off his elbow — might we see Posey play a whole series for the first time this year?
Alex Wood: It’s fitting that the first person to take the mound for the Giants this series will be a former Dodger. Wood has been nothing short of sensational in his first year with the Giants, and it seems like a safe bet that he’ll want to shut down his former team.
TBD: TBD is starting Saturday’s game, after Logan Webb — who was in the rotation to fill Aaron Sanchez’s spot — joined Sanchez on the Injured List. Maybe we’ll get Scott Kazmir. Maybe we’ll get Nick Tropeano. Maybe we’ll get Conner Menez. Maybe we’ll get a bullpen game. Maybe we’ll get someone who isn’t even in the organization right now. Either way, “TBD vs. Walker Buehler” is not the prettiest matchup on paper.
Three Dodgers to watch
Max Muncy: Giants fans may know Muncy best for his rather funny beef with Madison Bumgarner, but Dodgers fans know him best for hitting the stitches off of the ball. On a team with Mookie Betts, Corey Seager (who is on the IL and will miss the series), Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger (who is on the IL and will miss the series), A.J. Pollack (who is on the IL and will miss the series), Chris Taylor, and Will Smith, Muncy has been the Dodgers best hitter, while also leading the team in plate appearances. It’s usually a sign of great value when those things match.
Albert Pujols: So, Albert Pujols is now on the Dodgers.
Trevor Bauer: I do not like Trevor Bauer one bit, but he sure can pitch. His first year in LA has so far resulted in a 2.20 ERA, a 3.15 FIP, and 77 strikeouts in 57.1 innings. The Giants should try to add to those first two figures if you ask me.
Who wins the series?
This poll is closed
Giants win 2-1
Dodgers win 2-1
Dodgers get swept