The Los Angeles Dodgers evened up their National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night, winning 9-2 in Game 2. The Dodgers' offense, after being shut out in Game 1, broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning and never looked back. The series now heads to Los Angeles essentially a three-gamer with two games in Dodger Stadium after the NL West rivals split the first two games.
Here's what went down in Game 2 in San Francisco's beautiful Oracle Park.
Bellinger, Pollock turn the tide
The Dodgers had a 2-1 lead going to the sixth inning. Given all we've seen from this Giants team, again and again, in 2021, that's a pretty tenuous hold of the lead in what felt like a must-win game.
Trea Turner lined a double down the left-field line to get the rally started. After a Justin Turner strikeout, Will Smith and Chris Taylor drew back-to-back walks. That brought Cody Bellinger to the plate. To that point in the NLDS, Bellinger was 0 for 5 with four strikeouts after a regular season in which he hit .165 with a 45 OPS+. And he came through with a two-RBI double. He was immediately followed with at two-RBI double from eight-hole hitter A.J. Pollock and the Dodgers had a 6-1 lead, just like that.
Dodgers defense makes lead stand
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, LaMonte Wade Jr. drew a four-pitch walk before Buster Posey singled (more on that below). Again, we've seen what this Giants lineup can do. Were they really going to jump right back into the game? It felt possible.
The Dodgers' defense had other ideas. Second baseman Trea Turner flashed his range on a play up the middle with a diving stop and then flip to barely cut down Posey at second. The next batter, Brandon Crawford, singled to right field, which did score Wade, but then Wilmer Flores got nailed trying to take third on Mookie Betts' arm.
First off, take note that Corey Seager in stepping on second initially missed the bag but had enough presence in mind to adjust and touch it. Secondly, the rule in advancing to third base is generally never make the third out. The rationale is that you're already in scoring position on second base where a single should score you. Obviously, there are plenty of exceptions to this rule, especially at the MLB level. You just have to wonder if that old adage combined with Betts' obscene defensive skills should've kept Flores at second here. The Giants would have had two runners on with two outs for Donovan Solano (or a pinch hitter like Tommy La Stella). Instead they went to the seventh inning trailing 6-2.
The Dodgers would tack three on in the top of the eighth, but the win probability was 95 percent after that Betts throw to third to end the sixth.
In the Game 1 takeaways, we noted the Giants' stellar defense. The Dodgers ranked first in the majors in defensive efficiency (the percentage of balls in play converted into outs) and they've also flashed the leather thus far in this still-young NLDS.
Urías with great two-way game
Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías came through with a good outing on the mound, allowing just one run in five innings on three hits and a walk while striking out five. He only threw 72 pitches and could have continued, but the Dodgers' sixth-inning rally pushed manager Dave Roberts to pinch hit for his pitcher in an effort to pour it on as much as possible offensively. Not that it was the wrong move (it wasn't), but it is funny to note that Urías got the scoring going in the second inning in this one with an RBI single.
Betts followed with an RBI single of his own to give the Dodgers the early 2-0 lead.
Posey sets franchise record
Giants catcher Buster Posey picked up three hits in this one, giving him the Giants franchise record for career postseason hits.
The current leaderboard:
1. Posey, 55
2. Pablo Sandoval, 53
3. Hunter Pence, 39
4. Frankie Frisch, 37
5. Brandon Crawford, 33
Posey will try to add to his lead on Monday, when these teams meet again in Game 3.