Playoff series for the ages as Dodgers, Giants go to Game 5

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Will Smith runs the bases after he hit a two-run home run during the eighth inning of Tuesday’s Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers won 7-2, setting up tonight’s Game 5.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Everyone expected a playoff series for the ages between the century-old rival Dodgers and Giants, and now they’ve got it.

Anything less than a winner-take-all Game 5 would have been a baseball travesty, leaving the sport short-changed on the October stage.

It’s the 107-win, NL West champion Giants vs. the defending World Series champ Los Angeles Dodgers for a place in the NL Championship Series against Atlanta starting Saturday night.

It all comes down to Game 5 on Thursday night back at San Francisco’s Oracle Park after the Dodgers staved off elimination with a 7-2 victory at home Tuesday night. So you can see why San Francisco third baseman Evan Longoria would prefer a best-of-seven over this short NL Division Series before one of these two has to go home for the winter.

“I feel like this may also be like a series or a moment where baseball may have to think about restructuring the way that the playoffs happen — 106 and 107 wins doesn’t feel like a DS matchup,” Longoria said last week before his home run lifted the Giants 1-0 in Game 3. “I just feel like there’s two teams that win this many games, it seems early to match up us two.”

Mookie Betts and LA have played their share of winner-take-all games the past two seasons.

“We’ve had a lot of success here and in the past four, five, six, whatever years, and I think one of the biggest things is there’s teams that operate out of, ‘We want to get here,’ and there’s teams that it’s disappointing if we don’t get there, and I think we’re one of those teams that it’s disappointing if we don’t get there,” Betts said. “I think you sense that in there and ... find a way to do little things that you might not do in the regular season. You find a way to impact a game.”

It will be season meeting No. 24 between these talented, even clubs, to be played at 24 Willie Mays Plaza — an ode to the Hall of Famer’s jersey number.

San Francisco has won 12 and LA 11.

And now these teams that began playing each other in 1884 and have each won 109 times this year will meet in a win-or-go-home game.

“I think it’s only fitting,” Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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