The Los Angeles Dodgers delivered the opening salvo and aim to make it two straight victories over San Francisco when they visit the Giants on Saturday night.
The 2-1 victory on Friday moved the Dodgers within one game of the Giants and San Diego Padres, who share the National League West lead.
Chris Taylor hit a two-run homer for the Los Angeles runs in the first of 19 meetings between the longtime rivals. The red-hot Dodgers have won five straight games and nine of their past 10.
“It felt like a playoff game the whole way,” Taylor said. “They have a really good team and there was great energy in the stadium. There was a lot of fans. It was a good hard-fought win.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts concurred with the atmosphere and expects it to be electric again over the final two games of the series.
“It was a real rivalry game,” Roberts said. “We haven’t had that in quite some time. It was fun.”
Part of the fuss was Los Angeles right-hander Trevor Bauer cupping his right ear and encouraging fans to boo him louder after he departed with one out in the seventh. Bauer struck out 11 and allowed one unearned run and two hits.
Bauer made 126 pitches while quieting the San Francisco bats that erupted for 19 runs and 16 hits in a victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
“He kept us off balance, his pitches were pretty crisp,” said first baseman Brandon Belt, who had a double for one of the Giants’ two hits. “He was tough.”
The Giants had their five-game winning streak halted on a night in which a defensive play was their biggest highlight.
Bauer lined a one-hopper into right field with two on and two out in the sixth but Mike Yastrzemski charged to field the ball and threw Bauer out at first to end the inning with a rare 9-3 putout.
“The only way an outfielder makes that play is if he’s thinking about it beforehand,” San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said. “I thought that was an incredible play.”
Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler (2-0, 2.98 ERA) will try to keep the Giants’ bats quiet on Saturday. He is off to a strong start and has struck out 54 and walked just seven in 51 1/3 innings.
The 26-year-old allowed just one hit over seven shutout innings while beating the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday. He struck out seven but walked a season-worst four.
Buehler is 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA in seven career appearances (five starts) against the Giants. Evan Longoria is 4-for-11 versus Buehler while Brandon Crawford (1-for-13) and Belt (1-for-10) have experienced difficulties.
San Francisco hasn’t named a starter yet but journeyman right-hander Nick Tropeano is an option after being recalled on Friday.
The 30-year-old Tropeano nearly made the Giants’ Opening Day roster before being one of the last cuts in spring training.
“He performed very well for us during spring training, and he’s a guy that we believe in,” Kapler said before Friday’s game.
Tropeano was 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts at Triple-A Sacramento. He has made 39 major league starts in 49 appearances and has a 13-14 record and 4.29 ERA while pitching for the Houston Astros (2014), Los Angeles Angels (2015-19) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2020).
Tropeano is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers. He has allowed one homer apiece to Mookie Betts and Justin Turner. Betts’ blast came in 2018 when he was with the Boston Red Sox.
San Francisco also has veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir in Sacramento. The 37-year-old hasn’t pitched in a big league game since 2016 but has a 108-96 career mark with a 4.01 ERA.
–Field Level Media