The Giants and Dodgers made a classic in Game 5 of the NLDS.
But this classic did not get the finish it deserved. Instead of ending the match with a kickoff, or something like that, Giants first-team captain Wilmer Flores was swinging a 3-stroke game against Max Scherzer. First rule referee Gabi Morales ruled on appeal that Flores was gone.
This is the swing in question:
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Yes, it doesn’t look like he’s gone around.
It was a quick decision for Morales. According to MLB Rules 2021, “The field referees must be alerted to the request from the board referee and respond quickly.”
According to MLB List of Reviewable Plays, The selected swing is not in the list of calls that can be viewed on the video.
“Checking the twists is one of the hardest calls we’ve had. I don’t have the advantage of multiple camera angles when I’m watching it live. When it happened live, I thought (Flores) was gone, which is why I called him the swing,” Morales told reporters at a news conference after match (per Bill Schicken of the Los Angeles Times).
Giants manager Gabe Kapler said after the match: “I mean, obviously, you don’t want the match to end like this. I know these guys are working hard to make the right call. It would obviously be frustrating to have an end game like this. High in the board can climb back to that number (Flores fell behind 0-2.) There is no guarantee of success at the end of the at-bat.
“Especially right now, I don’t have to worry about that. I just think it’s a disappointing way to finish. There are other reasons why we didn’t win baseball today. That was the game’s last call.”
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There were definitely other reasons for the giants’ loss. They were 0 for 5 with two contestants in the scoring position and left six contestants in the base. The offense was committed for one run on six strokes over nine innings at home in a winner-takes-all match.
But Kapler is also right that he took the bat out of Flores’ hand in an awkward situation. Flores is known to be a tough-to-strike player – he had a 12.8 percent strike rate during the regular season – and has been productive with two strikes this year. According to Statheed, ranked 20 in the majors with a 0.62 OPS in two-strokes this season (with a minimum of 200 hits at bat) and seven of his 18 home games have been two-strokes.
On the flip side, it was nearly impossible for Scherzer to come back with a two-stroke. Among shooters with at least 100 rounds, Scherzer’s .397 OPS allowed in two-stroke counts was the fourth lowest in the major leagues in 2021, According to Statheed.
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Of course, Dodgers first-team captain Cody Bellinger wasn’t about to complain. “Umpire said it was a swing, so it was a swing,” Bellinger told reporter Lauren Shehadeh on the TBS broadcast.
There was some irony in the result for the dodgers. On July 22, Giants player Darren Rove went to what should have been the end of Strike 3, but on appeal was ordered to stop in time. Rove walked to the power of the round and tied the match 3-3. LaMonte Wade, the singles held twice by the next hitter, gave the Giants the lead and eventually won the match.
The Giants finished the first season ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West standings.
Darren Rove is aware of the irony: “It doesn’t look like it’s gone, but the checkered swing earlier in the year helped us too, it’s kind of funny how it comes to those two events.”
– Bill Plunkett (@Billplunkettocr) October 15 2021