The Dodgers sweep the Giants and show no sign of slowing down

The Dodgers sweep the Giants and show no sign of slowing down

Justin Bruihl (63) celebrates the last out of the Los Angeles Dodgers with catcher Austin Barnes.

Dodgers reliever Justin Bruihl, right, celebrates with catcher Austin Barnes after a 4-3 victory in 10 innings over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. (John Hefti/Associated Press)

The Dodgers seemed amused by the idea, if not put off by it.

Are they not at all worried – now that they’ve clinched the division, almost locked up the best record in handball, and done it with a few weeks left in the regular season – about a complacent arrangement between this and the start of the playoffs?

No, they have made a strong claim. Not in the least.

“That question doesn’t even register with me,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said last week, in the middle of his division-leading team’s clubhouse celebration.

“I mean, if you don’t want to win the game, you shouldn’t be playing,” midfielder Andrew Heaney said on Sunday.

“If you start to see our boys getting lazy, then come and talk to me,” said manager Dave Roberts, his tone straining as he sat in the visiting skipper’s office at Oracle Park. “Our guys are smart enough to know, it’s important.”

Indeed, as they promised, the Dodgers’ intensity did not diminish during their first series after clinching the National League West.

Instead, in the final stop of a three-city, 10-day road trip, the club completed a three-game, record-setting sweep of the San Francisco Giants with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Sunday night.

The win was the Dodgers’ 15th over the Giants this season, the most they have beaten their rivals in a single campaign since both franchises relocated to California in 1958.

And he demanded they grind through a rainy afternoon in the Bay Area, one that ended with a nearly hour-long saga in the dramatic 10th inning.

After playing through wet conditions and a 20-minute rain delay early on, then squandering an eighth-inning lead that left the score 2-2 going into the 10th, the Dodgers manufactured two runs in the extra frame .

Austin Barnes set the tone with a sacrifice bunt. Mookie Betts broke the tie with a double down the line. Then, the Dodgers strung together three two-out walks (the first was intentional) to force an insurance run at home.

Mookie Betts, right, congratulates Trayce Thompson after scoring in the 10th inning.

Trayce Thompson congratulates Mookie Betts, right, after he scored in the 10th inning against the Giants on Sunday. (John Hefti/Associated Press)

They needed it.

In the bottom half of the 10th, reliever Andre Jackson gave up one run and loaded the bases with two outs before left-hander Justin Bruihl replaced LaMonte Wade Jr. ground out for his first career save.

“Beer shower!” Dodgers players shouted as they returned to the clubhouse, eager to mark Bruihl’s milestone moment with a celebration.

“I had beer, ketchup, milk, a bunch of other things dumped on me,” Bruihl said with a laugh.

“I took a nice hot shower afterwards.”

Every little moment – playing through the rain, scoring twice in the 10th, celebrating Bruihl’s achievement – was evidence for Roberts that his players had not lowered their level of intensity in the last few days, that they had not lost their edge despite their -place in the. the stands.

“There was no lack of focus or making plays,” Roberts said. “It was the same intensity as I saw last year, when we were in a pennant race with the guys. So credit to our players.”

Before the game, the manager said he is struggling to convince his biggest stars – namely Freeman, who has missed just one game – to take more days off as the season winds down.

“I’m not a quitter,” Roberts said. “But I also know battles I’m going to lose.”

The Dodgers (101-44) are still caring in other ways.

Heaney was taken from Sunday’s start after just four innings and 65 pitches, with his fall from execution after the fourth-inning rain delay factored into Roberts’ decision.

The team also managed its bullpen carefully as usual, turning to relatively inexperienced arms in Jackson and Bruihl in the 10th to prevent higher leverage options like Tommy Kahnle and Chris Martin from pitching in back-to-back games .

It almost allowed the Giants (69-77) – who had been robbed twice of probable runs earlier in the night on ground-rule doubles to force a runner to stop at third – to steal a game late Sunday.

Jackson gave up a deep fly to Joc Pederson that could have been a walk-off home run had it not been for a stiff wind. Bruihl delivered a long foul ball to Wade that went just wide of the right field pole.

Ultimately, however, the Dodgers prevailed again.

“If you ask anybody here, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you how many times we beat the Giants,” Heaney said. “We go out there and have fun.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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