Will Dodgers-Giants Rivalry Games Make Headlines for All the Wrong Reasons?
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The rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants is one of the most celebrated in baseball. Unfortunately, the competition between the two NL West teams has gotten attention for the wrong reasons over the past year.
The attack on Bryan Stow (recounted here in a Los Angeles Times report) in the Dodger Stadium parking lot last March cast a red mark on this rivalry that may never be erased. It certainly shouldn't ever be forgotten, and can be held up as an example of how fans can take sports utterly too seriously and the grave importance of providing proper security for people at sporting events.
The incident may still have defined the rivalry when the Dodgers and Giants met for the first time this season in early May. But the three-game series that begins Monday night at AT&T Park will get attention for what happens on the field this time around.
This trio of games will matter for baseball reasons.
After looking for quite some time as if their NL West lead might go unchallenged, the Dodgers are now in a race with the Giants. Going into Monday's game, San Francisco is just three games behind and could reach a first-place tie with a series sweep.
While the Giants have played relatively well at home this season, compiling a 21-14 record as of Monday, pulling off a sweep might be difficult with the pitching matchups lined up as they are.
Barry Zito pitches the series opener for the Giants and he's struggled badly in his past three starts. Over 14.1 innings, Zito allowed 17 runs and 23 hits (five of them home runs).
And you can't just point at those three games and say he was pounded by American League competition. One of those starts was against the woeful Houston Astros, one night after Matt Cain pitches his perfect game.
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But the real question comes in the third game with Tim Lincecum.
Which pitcher will the Dodgers see? The one who may have saved himself from a demotion to the bullpen—or worse—with a respectable performance last Friday?
Or the guy who was winless in his last nine starts, giving up four or more runs in six of those appearances?
Meanwhile, the Dodgers counter with Nathan Eovaldi in the opener, whose 2.35 ERA indicates that his 0-3 record isn't really his fault.
Clayton Kershaw comes off pitching a gem in his previous start, allowing one run and three hits over eight innings. He and Vogelsong should have a great duel on Tuesday. And then the Dodgers' own question mark, Chad Billingsley, pitches the finale.
Billingsley allowed 11 runs (10 earned) in his past two starts. He gave up 18 hits in 11 innings. Will the Giants see that pitcher or the one who allowed only one run in each of his two outings prior to his pair of bad starts?
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Think about the way Yankees and Red Sox fans always have a word for one another, or the intense grudge between Ohio State and Michigan supporters. But the competition ultimately becomes richer because of what happens on the field, from back-and-forth success and failure between the two sides.
Fighting for an NL West title deepens the rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants for all the right reasons. Hopefully, both teams—and more importantly, their fans—give all baseball fans a reason to be drawn in because of three tightly contested ballgames over the next three nights.
That would be a refreshing change from what these two teams and their fanbases have had to suffer through over the past year.
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