SAN FRANCISCO – Everybody expected a playoff series for the ages between the century-old rival Dodgers and Giants, and 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 tonight, back at the 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. “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 you 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 clubs, to be played at 24 Willie Mays Plaza – an ode to the Hall of Famer's 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 meet in an all-or-nothing game.
“I think it's only fitting,” Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler said.
Game 1 winner Logan Webb, dazzling in his postseason debut, takes the ball again for the Giants while the Dodgers will go to 20-game winner Julio Urķas after he pitched the Game 2 triumph.
“This time of year you're going to face great pitching night in and night out,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “And as much as you can, you're hoping that when you do get some traffic out there, you can get a big hit and, because sometimes those opportunities are limited and hopefully that's something we will be able to do on Thursday.”