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Can Giants be spoilers?

Brian Wilson

Giants nightmare: Brian Wilson clincher at AT&T

The Giants and Dodgers play seven times in September  –  four in Los Angeles Sept. 12-15, and three in San Francisco Sept. 24-26. The Giants clearly won’t be a contender, but if Arizona can stay in the race, the Giants could have a chance to play the spoiler role.

Spoiler games have been as much a part of the rivalry as have been showdowns where both teams were competing for the post-season late in the year.  Probably the biggest such moment came when Joe Morgan’s homer in 1982 helped the Giants eliminate the Dodgers the day after Los Angeles ended their season. The Giants laughed when they knocked the Dodgers out of the race in 1991, only to see the Dodgers return the volley on the last day of the season in 1993. Most recently, the Giants ended the Dodgers’ slim wild-card hopes by eliminating them in the next to last game in 2012.
Perhaps the rivalry’s biggest spoiler payback of all time came in 1934 when Giants manager Bill Terry’s insult of the Dodgers turned to red meat for the Dodgers and their fans, culminating in Brooklyn eliminating New York on the final game of the season.
If the Dodgers don’t run away with the West flag, the games at AT&T in the last week of the season could give the Giants a chance to hurt the Dodgers’ chances. Of course, that also means there possibly could be a scenario where the Dodgers could clinch the division with Brian Wilson on the mound going for the save. If you are a member of Giants management, that would be a case of “fear the scenario.”

Dodgers in fast company

Mattingly

Don Mattingly still faces challenges.

The Dodgers’ victory over Philadelphia Aug. 17 put them in pretty fast baseball company. The club tied the 1941 New York Yankees and 1942 St. Louis Cardinals for the best 50-game stretch since 1900 with a 42-8 mark. The 1951 New York Giants have to be part of the equation, having won 39 of their last 47 games. Interestingly, the Dodgers succumbed to all three teams. The Cardinals trailed the Dodgers by 10 games on Aug. 5. The 50-game tear began Aug. 9, allowing the Cardinals to edge the Dodgers for the pennant with a 106-48 record. St. Louis, an aggressive base-running team which led the league in runs, doubles and triples, also relied on dominant pitching as it allowed just 29 runs in the last 17 games of the season. The Cardinals defeated the Yankees in five games to win the World Series.

The 1941 Yankees were in fourth place, 3.5 games behind with a 25-22 record June 25. New York then went on its 42-8 streak, taking over first place for good June 29. The Yankees downed Brooklyn 4-1 to take the World Series.
The 1951 Giants, trailing the first-place Dodgers by 13.5 games on Aug. 11, finished out the season with a 39-8 mark, which included winning two of three in a playoff against the Dodgers to win the pennant. Unlike the 1942 Cardinals and 1941 Yankees, the 1951 Giants were unable to take the momentum from their incredible streak and turn it into World Series glory as they fell to the Yankees in six games.
What all this means to the 2013 Dodgers is still to be determined. But if the Dodgers were to finally cool off after their blistering second-half pace, would they have trouble recapturing the momentum of their impressive streak? The Dodgers look like potential champs now, but Don Mattingly might still have more work to do to keep the apparent juggernaut moving once post season rolls around.