SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — It’s one of the most heated rivalries in all sports, but the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have never met in the post-season during baseball’s modern era. At least until now.
The chant of “Beat LA” will begin echoing through San Francisco neighborhoods, bars and at Oracle Park Friday night as the Dodgers come north after Chris Taylor ripped a walkoff, two-run homer lifting the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night in a scintillating NL wild-card game.
The two teams engaged in a dramatic season-long race to claim the NL West title. Los Angeles had won the crown eight straight years, but with a win on the final game of the regular season over the San Diego Padres the Giants ended their run.
Both teams enter Friday night’s game with 107 wins — the best records in Major League Baseball. It was the first time two teams in the same division have won 105 or more games. The teams last met in the post-season when they played in the 1889 World Series when both teams were in New York.
“One of the great rivalries in sports,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said after Wednesday night’s win. “It’s happening.”
Taylor echoed those sentiments.
“That’s gonna be fun,” he said of the upcoming showdown. “Yeah, two of the best regular-season records of all-time. We’ve been battling all year, so I expect a hard-fought series.”
San Francisco’s young ace Logan Webb (11-3, 3.03 ERA) will start for the Giants squaring off against Walker Buehler (16-4, 2.47 ERA). During the regular season, Webb went 3-0 against the Dodgers and gave up just over 1 run a game in those contests.
“To be able to throw the first game for the best team in the league is pretty cool,” Webb said after his bullpen session Wednesday. “I’m super excited for it. I feel an extra confidence when we’re here just ’cause it’s a great place to pitch, first of all, and also the crowd here is great.”
Giants Manager Gabe Kapler said he was eager to see Webb on another big stage as this rivalry takes on a new intensity.
“I don’t doubt that there’s some really good adrenaline at play here. This has been an exciting month, two months, three months for Logan on many different levels, including what’s happened in the batter’s box,” Kapler said. “We’ve seen that that confidence can make your body bounce back well.”
Just before 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, the first anchor for the NLDS was dropped in McCovey Cove. Kevin Park, skipper of the Sea Dog. told KPIX there was no way he was going to miss the showdown at Oracle Park.
“We are usually hear a day ahead of time,” explained Park. “Makes it a lot easier, because it gets pretty crowded in here. This is just the icing on the cake, isn’t it.”
Excitement among Giants fans was palpable.
“The two best teams in baseball, up against each other,” said Carl Schmidt. “The energy in that stadium is going to be off the charts.”
“Yeah, it’s more fun to play the Dodgers,” added fan Rick Levine. “The ballpark was rockin’ more for the Dodgers.”
“Like I said, I wish I had tickets, because I’d love to be there,” added Schmidt.
The San Francisco-Los Angeles rivalry is driving demand in that department. At last check Thursday, a standing room only ticket will cost you about $170.
“I’m going to sit around and watch,” said fan Anne Franklin. “I’m probably going to find a bar.”
“Yeah, I’ve been here for the other World Series that we’ve had, and they packed this place; filled it up,” said Rafael Hernandez of the Double Play Bar & Grill. “We have champagne stains still on the walls and the roof.”
The Double Play at the corner of 16th and Bryant in San Francisco sits right across the street from the site of the first Giants ballpark. It is a bar and restaurant turned Giants shrine.
“This is one of the first games played by the San Francisco Giants at Seals Stadium and it’s against the Dodgers,” Hernandez said, pointing to a old photo on the wall.
Like many other bars in the city, the Double Play is hoping the playoff showdown will help drive a pandemic rebound.
“It’s what we’re hoping to get this place back like in 2010, 2012, 2014,” Hernandez says. “So we’re excited. We’ll see what happens.”
Wilson Walker contributed to this report.