Dodgers vs. Giants score: Cody Bellinger hits game-winning RBI single in NLDS Game 5 vs. Giants, L.A. advances

The San Francisco Giants were one game better than the Los Angeles Dodgers just about all season, right up until Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday night. The Dodgers eliminated their historic rivals with a 2-1 win (box score), setting up an NLCS rematch with the Atlanta Braves. The Giants, meanwhile, head home after five playoff games despite having the game's best record in 2021.

The Dodgers struck first on Thursday, with Corey Seager doubling home Mookie Betts in the top of the sixth inning. The Giants didn't relent, however, and struck right back in their half of the frame thanks to a solo home run by Darin Ruf. At times it felt like neither team would be able to break through with another run.

With the score tied 1-1 in the ninth, Cody Bellinger drove in the series-winning run with an RBI single against Giants closer Camilo Doval. The Dodgers then had starter and trade deadline acquisition Max Scherzer record the final three outs to send them on their way to the NLCS.

Here are seven takeaways from Game 5 of the NLDS.

1. The opener worked

It was not necessarily pretty, but the Dodgers got scoreless innings from Corey Knebel and Brusdar Graterol to begin the game, and in the process coaxed the Giants into burning Tommy La Stella. La Stella started at second base and in the leadoff spot, then was removed for a pinch-hitter in his second at-bat. He flew out in the first.

Knebel and Graterol combined to allow three hits in two innings -- Knebel allowed two hard-hit balls to the warning track and Graterol was burned by broken bat singles -- but the Giants went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position those two innings, and couldn't capitalize.

Julio Urías took over in the third inning, at which point the righty hitting Donovan Solano replaced the lefty hitting La Stella. The Dodgers got their scoreless innings and got the Giants to shorten their bench. From that perspective, mission accomplished.

2. The Dodgers finally solved Webb

"Solved" is an overstatement. Logan Webb was excellent again in Game 5, and it wasn't until his 14th inning of the series that the Dodgers were able to scratch out a run. Mookie Betts singled, stole second, then scored on a Corey Seager double in the sixth inning of Game 5. Seager just reached out and poked the ball the other way.

Betts went 3 for 3 against Webb in Game 5. The rest of the Dodgers went 1 for 18, and the one was Seager's double. Webb finished the series with just the one run allowed in 14 2/3 innings. He struck out 17 and had as many tappers back to the mound (nine) as hits allowed (also nine). Total dominance.

At 24 years and 330 days, Webb was the youngest pitcher to start a win or go home postseason game in Giants history. He's only the third pitcher in Giants history to throw seven innings with no more than one run allowed in a winner-take-all postseason game, joining Madison Bumgarner (2014 and 2016 Wild Card Games) and Jack Sanford (1962 World Series Game 7).

As for Mookie, he went 4 for 4 in Game 5 and is now 13 for 24 in six games with the Dodgers facing elimination in his two years with the team. The Dodgers are 6-0 in those games. Betts is the first Dodger ever to go 4 for 4 in a winner-take-all postseason game.

3. Ruf finally hit one out

Darin Ruf was an x-factor going into Thursday's game and he hit 1,207 feet worth of fly balls in Game 5. The first traveled 377 feet and was caught for an out. The second went 378 feet and was also caught for an out. There was no catching Ruf's third fly ball. The 452-foot blast tied the game at 1-1 in the sixth. Look at this bomb:

According to Statcast, Ruf's first fly ball would have been a home run in 12 ballparks, though his second would have been out in zero ballparks because it was hit toward the gap. The third fly ball? A homer in all 30 parks, of course. 452 feet goes out of every part of every park.

By the way, that 452-foot homer is the longest home run of the postseason so far, and also the longest home run of Ruf's career. His previous career long was 439-footer back in July.

4. Bellinger got the big hit

To call it a tough season for Cody Bellinger would be an understatement. The 2019 NL MVP hit .165/.240/.302 in 350 plate appearances around various injuries, and at one point he was demoted to platoon duty. He went 3 for 11 in the first four games of the NLDS, and had a big two-run double in Game 2.

In Game 5, Bellinger provided the biggest hit of the Dodgers' season. With runners on first and second and one out in the ninth, he found a hole with a ground ball single against Giants flame-thrower Camilo Doval, and drove in Justin Turner for the go-ahead run. To the action footage:

The pitch selection was curious. Bellinger has struggled with velocity all year -- he hit .150 with a .326 slugging percentage against fastballs during the regular season -- but Doval didn't show him his triple-digit fastball. He threw him four straight sliders, and the fourth was elevated just enough for Bellinger to hook it through the infield.

There have been longest stretches of time this season where Bellinger looked completely lost, including against Webb earlier in Game 5. Doval not giving him a fastball in the ninth inning proved to be a fatal mistake, and with one swing, Bellinger redeemed himself for a disaster year. He sent the Dodgers to the NLCS.

5. Late night LaMonte had a chance

Once the Dodgers took the lead in the ninth, the Giants couldn't ask for much more than getting LaMonte Wade Jr. to the plate with a chance to tie the game. LaMonte's clutch numbers this season were truly insane:

  • Runners in scoring position: .407/.484/.889
  • Close and late: .362/.444/.511
  • Ninth inning: .565/.583/.826

That's the guy you want at the plate with the game on the line. Alas, closer du jour Max Scherzer painted a backdoor breaking ball to freeze Wade for strike three and the second out of the inning. Kris Bryant reached on a Justin Turner error earlier in the ninth to put the tying run on base. Wade was so good in clutch situations all season, but the magic wasn't there in Game 5.

6. The game ended on a bad call

Scherzer served as closer in Game 5 because Dodgers manager Dave Roberts aggressively used Kenley Jansen, who's been out of this world good the last two months, against the top of the lineup in the eighth. Jansen's lineup spot came up with runners on the corners and two outs in the ninth, so of course he was removed for a pinch-hitter. That pushed Scherzer into the closer's role.

Scherzer struck out Wilmer Flores to end the game but gosh, the call was terrible. First base umpire Gabe Morales called this a swing for strike three:

The rulebook is incredibly vague about check swings. It defines a swing as "an attempt to strike at the ball," and all that stuff you hear about "breaking the plane" is made up gobbledygook. That's not in the rulebook anywhere. It's an arbitrary definition passed down over the years.

That said, that doesn't look like a swing to me. Not at all. Check swings are not reviewable -- check swings are a judgment call and judgment calls are not reviewable, only black and white plays are reviewable (safe or out, fair or foul, etc.) -- so the Giants had no recourse. Once Morales made the call, it was game and series over.

It is entirely possible (if not likely) the call made no difference. Flores was down in the count 0-2 against Scherzer and hitters put up a .117/.161/.216 batting line with a 58.9 percent strikeout rate after falling behind in the count 0-2 against Scherzer this year. Still, a .117 batting average is not .000. Flores had a chance to keep the game alive taken away.

As entertaining as this series was, it's a damn shame it had to end on such an obviously bad call.

7. The Dodgers are moving on

For the fifth time in the last six years, the Dodgers are going to the NLCS. They're looking for their fourth National League pennant in the last five years, and of course looking to repeat as World Series champs. Baseball has not had a repeat champion since the Yankees won three straight World Series from 1998-2000. The Braves vs. Dodgers rematch NLCS begins Saturday in Atlanta.

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The Dodgers' results for the past five postseason games when facing elimination:

- 2021 NLDS Game 4 vs. Giants: Won, 7-2
- 2021 NL Wild Card Game vs. Cardinals, Won 3-1
- 2020 NLCS Game 7 vs. Braves, Won 4-3
- 2020 NLCS Game 6 vs. Braves, Won 3-1
- 2020 NLCS Game 5 vs. Braves, Won 7-3

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Possible for Kenley's lineup spot to come up with the bases loaded and two outs in a 1-1 game this inning.

October 15, 2021, 4:11 AM
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with one out in the top of the ninth, Doval hits Justin Turner with a pitch. Gavin Lux to the plate and he's been hot. Doval had control issues earlier in the year. 

October 15, 2021, 4:10 AM
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Max Scherzer is warming up.

October 15, 2021, 4:06 AM
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If the Giants are going to win this game (and series), it'll be a walk-off.

October 15, 2021, 4:05 AM
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This game is the good stuff.

October 15, 2021, 4:05 AM
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