SAN FRANCISCO — AT&T Park won’t host playoff baseball this season. That much was decided weeks ago.
But on the penultimate day of the regular season, the ballpark at China Basin served as a playoff atmosphere, and the Giants and Dodgers both arrived armed with a win-or-go-home mentality to the field.
Thanks to a go-ahead two-out RBI triple from Manny Machado in the top of the eighth and a four-run ninth, it was the Dodgers who claimed a 10-6 victory over the Giants.
With a victory Saturday, the Dodgers clinched a playoff berth and celebrated in front of thousands of fans who turned the stadium into what could be described as Chavez Ravine of Northern California.
After a spirited display over the first seven innings, the Giants suffered their 88th loss of the season and 20th in September, continuing one of the worst months in their San Francisco-era history.
Los Angeles still has a chance to overcome the Colorado Rockies in the National League West, but Dave Roberts’ squad secured a spot as one of five NL playoff teams following Saturday’s win over the Giants.
For a Giants club putting the finishing touches on a second straight losing season, an offseason at home is where they were already headed.
For the Dodgers team loaded with perhaps the most talented group of players in the National League West, the thought of going home represented heartbreak.
With the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch a postseason berth resting at one before first pitch, Saturday’s installment of the rivalry was initially billed as a pitchers’ duel before quickly turning into AT&T Park’s version of a slugfest.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had faced the Giants 43 times in his career before Saturday, but he had never encountered a San Francisco offense with such miserable numbers.
The Giants have averaged 2.6 runs per game in September and are a near-lock to score the second-fewest runs in baseball this season.
And that’s why Saturday’s game felt so different.
In an uncharacteristically shaky five-inning stint, Kershaw surrendered five earned runs and coughed up two separate two-run leads, allowing five earned runs against the Giants for the first time in his 11-year major-league career.
Kershaw had surrendered four earned runs to San Francisco just once in 23 career starts at AT&T Park, but an RBI double from right fielder Hunter Pence followed by a sacrifice fly from second baseman Joe Panik helped the Giants even the score at 5-5 against the Dodgers ace in the bottom of the fifth.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner hadn’t given up more than four earned runs in a start that lasted fewer than six innings since May 10, 2015 at Coors Field, but a dormant Giants’ lineup came to life against Kershaw Saturday.
The Giants pushed five runs across against Kershaw thanks to timely hits and quality situational at-bats, but also due to the aggressive nature of third base coach Ron Wotus who routinely challenged the Dodgers to play flawless defense.
While the Giants broke through against Kershaw, the Dodgers wasted little time ruining the season finale for starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez.
Rodriguez had thrown at least five innings in 16 straight starts entering Saturday’s game, but the right-hander lacked command throughout his last outing of the year. Dodgers left fielder Joc Pederson led off the game with his 25th home run of the season and Los Angeles’ offense continued to crush Rodriguez until manager Bruce Bochy was forced to lift him after just three innings of work.