By Christopher Haft
Special to The Examiner
Bring on the Dodgers!
This already has been a good year in Giants-Dodgers history. No, make that a great year. Now it has the chance to be the greatest of all time.
The Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over St. Louis in Wednesday’s Wild Card game propelled Los Angeles into the National League Division Series against the Giants. Finally, the longtime rivals will confront each other for the first time in the postseason, with something more on the line than pride or a place in the standings.
The Dodgers will come to San Francisco to start the series on Friday after Los Angeles’ Chris Taylor hit a dramatic, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie and propelling his team to a Wild Card victory and into a historic matchup with the Giants.
The game with St. Louis had been beyond tense throughout, with both teams going deep into the bullpen and maintaining a 1-1 tie. Then Taylor broke it open with a two-run shot in the last of the ninth. The home run will send his teammates up the coast for a widely anticipated matchup.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Taylor, after Wednesday night’s game. “We’ve been battling all year long. I expect a hard-fought series.”
The season series between the two teams was tense, with the Giants holding sway, winning the overall matchup 10 games to 9.
The Giants and Dodgers have not met in the postseason since divisional play began in 1969. Meanwhile, fate has brought together those other great antagonists, the Yankees and Red Sox, on multiple occasions. Those unfamiliar with National League or West Coast baseball can gain an understanding of what the fuss is about.
With franchises that are rich in history, the Giants and Dodgers have engaged in many high-octane pennant races and division-title chases. Two of them, in 1951 and 1962, ended with the Giants and Dodgers deadlocked atop the National League standings. But they settled the pennant with what were officially known as best-of-three tiebreakers, the results of which were tacked onto the regular-season standings.
Another tiebreaker nearly became necessary this season as the Dodgers pursued the Giants down the stretch for the National Leage West division title, never more than a game or two behind. The Giants finally emerged on top on the last day of the season, winning a franchise-record 107 games compared to 106 for Los Angeles.
Christopher Haft is a long-time baseball scribe who covers the Giants for The Examiner.