LOS ANGELES – After 23 intense games between the Dodgers and Giants this season, it’s fitting that the epic battle between the teams with the two best records in the MLB is turning into a winner-take-all game.
The Dodgers avoided elimination with a 7-2 win in their fourth game on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium to force the fifth game on Thursday night at Oracle Park. Los Angeles starter Walker Buehler took a short break for the first time in his career and led the way with 4 1/3 innings.
Both teams have won 109 games this season. The first through 110 will move into the NL Championship Series to compete against the Braves.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know for Thursday’s playoff.
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 5 is scheduled to begin in Oracle Park on Thursday at 9:07 p.m. ET / 6:07 p.m. PT and be broadcast on TBS. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
What could the starting grid look like?
Swindler: After a solid performance in Game 4, the Dodgers could choose to stick with the same line-up for Game 5. Manager Dave Roberts has already confirmed that Gavin Lux, who reached the base four times on Tuesday, will pull another start.
Giants: With the left-handed Urías scheduled to start for the Dodgers, the Giants will again stack their line-up with right-handed thugs in an attempt to take advantage of the move. The strategy failed to produce the expected results in Game 2, however, when Urías rolled five innings of a one-run ball to lead Los Angeles to a 9-2 win at Oracle Park. While they have several thugs who have squashed southpaws in the past, the Giants have started 11-11 against left-handers since the All-Star break.
Who are the starters?
Swindler: Urías (20-3, 2.96 ERA) will make his second start of the postseason. The Mexican-born left-handed player allowed a five-inning run in the Dodgers’ Game 2 win at Oracle Park. It’s Urias’ seventh start against the Giants in 2021. He went 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA against them in five regular season starts.
Giants: At 24 years and 330 days, Webb (11-3, 3.03 ERA) becomes the youngest pitcher in Giants history to start a winner-take-all postseason game. Webb scored 10 over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a masterly performance in Game 1 and will be on a five day break. The Giants are unbeaten in Webb’s 13 starts at Oracle Park, where he has gone 7-0 in his last 14 appearances with an ERA of 1.78.
How are the bull pens positioned after the starter?
Swindler: In a winner-take-all game, the Dodgers have almost everyone to pitch. Roberts said he doesn’t think Max Scherzer will be available outside of the bullpen, but that could change quickly in a close game.
Giants: The ideal scenario for the Giants would be to rely on Webb to dig deep into the game before potentially handing it over to Kevin Gausman, who will be available from the bullpen after Game 2 begins. Relief ace Camilo Doval should be ready to end the fight several innings if necessary after game 4 not pitching.
Are there any resources that are not available?
Swindler: They will all be available and ready to pitch.
Giants: San Francisco deployed seven relievers to cover 6 1/3 innings after Anthony DeSclafani’s 1 2/3 inning start in Game 4, but manager Gabe Kapler said he expected everyone to be available in Game 5. Kapler also didn’t rule out with left-handed Alex Wood, who threw a goalless innings in game 3 4 2/3.
Any notable injuries?
Swindler: First baseman Max Muncy (left elbow dislocation) and left-handed Clayton Kershaw (left elbow discomfort) are from the NLDS. Kershaw will miss the rest of the postseason. The Dodgers are hoping Muncy could return later this month, but he has still not made any swings since his injury.
Giants: First baseman Brandon Belt (broken left thumb) and experienced reliever Tony Watson (left shoulder strain) have dropped out for the NLDS. Second baseman Tommy La Stella also maintains the tightness of the left Achilles, but is unlikely to face Urías on Thursday.
Who is hot and who is not?
Swindler: Betts brandishes a hot bat and goes 7-on-20 with a homer in five postseason games. The Star Right Fielder has a .864 OPS. … Lux used his chance in game 4 and went 2 on 2 with two rounds. … Perhaps no player does better than Smith, who hit his second postseason homer in Game 4 and leads the team with 1,206 OPS.
Giants: Bryant is starting to heat up after fumbling at the plate for the last few weeks of the regular season. He’s 6-for-13 with a home run and two RBIs in the first four games of the series and could be a key player against Urías given his .910 OPS against left-handers this year.