Top 10 Moments in Giants-Dodgers Rivalry
When it seems like every game is as dramatic and heart-wrenching as the previous one, it is difficult to pick out only a select few of the highlights. Here are my top 10 moments in the Giants-Dodgers rivalry.
10. Barry Bonds vs. Eric Gagne
In a 2004 at-bat that still gets talked about today, Barry Bonds stepped up to the plate to face the best closer in the game at the time, Eric Gagne. With the Dodgers up 3-0, Gagne challenged the home run king with a 101 mph fastball and the slugger turned on the pitch and crushed a foul ball into McCovey Cove. On the very next pitch, Gagne hit triple digits again and Bonds sent it into the center field bleachers.
Gagne was the reigning National League Cy Young winner. Bonds was the defending NL MVP. It was as big a power-on-power matchup as you will ever see. Sure, there might have been a few steroids floating around between these two players. But plain and simple, this was a matchup for the ages.
9. Bonds Breaks Single-Season Home Run Record
On Oct. 5 2001, Bonds belted his 71st home run off the season against the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park to set the single-season record. Just two innings later Bonds reset the record, sending a sky-scraping shot into the center field bleachers. In 47 lifetime at-bats against Park, Bonds had eight home runs, three of those coming in the memorable 2001 season.
8. Steve Finley Grand Slam
Trailing the Dodgers by two games with two to play in the 2004 season, the Giants needed to sweep their rivals to force a tiebreaker. In a 3-3 game in the bottom of the ninth, Steve Finley belted a walk-off grand slam to clinch the Dodgers an NL West title, sending them to the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
It wasn’t quite 1951 but was still an unbelievable pennant race to say the least. After being tied at the end of the regular season, the Giants and Dodgers entered a three-game playoff to decide who would go on to the World Series.
The teams split the first two games setting up a final between the rivals. The Dodgers led 4-1 through eight innings until the Giants scored four in the top of the ninth to win 6-4. The Giants went on to play the Yankees in the Fall Classic, losing the series in seven games.
Despite going 103-59, the Giants were kept out of the playoffs after getting thrashed by the Dodgers 12-1 on the last day of the season. A win would have set up a one-game playoff with the Atlanta Braves, but instead the Giants were sent packing. It also is interesting to note that their 103 wins in 1993 were tied for the franchise's most since winning 105 games in 1905.
During the final week of the 1990 season, the Giants played spoiler as they swept the Dodgers to end their hopes of another playoff run. In the second game of the series, six-time All-Star Fernando Valenzuela gave up eight runs in four innings in his final appearance in Dodger blue.
4. Joe Morgan's Home Run
In 1982 there was a three team race in the National League West between the Dodgers, Giants and Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers eliminated the Giants from playoff contention in a 15-4 beatdown at Candlestick Park. On the final day of the season the very next day, the Giants returned the favor when Joe Morgan’s three-run homer late in the seventh inning helped seal a 5-3 victory to deny the Dodgers from reaching the playoffs.
Although the Giants could not reach the playoffs, they did the next best thing by ending their rivals’ season in the final innings.
3. Marichal vs. Roseboro
Aug. 22, 1965 was the date of the infamous brawl between Giants pitcher Juan Marichal and Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro. Early in the game, Marichal knocked down Maury Wills and Ron Fairly with inside pitchers and the Dodgers catcher wanted to retaliate. When Marichal came up to bat, Roseboro called Sandy Koufax to brush back Marichal but he refused to do so.
Roseboro took matters into his own hands by whizzing a few return throws right past the head of Marichal. In response, Marichal took his bat and swung at Roseboro’s head. When the bat-flailing ended and the punches stopped, Roseboro was left with blood dripping down his uniform while Marichal was suspended for nine games.
2. Brian Johnson
In the midst of an NL pennant race during 1997, the Giants were hosting the Dodgers for a crucial two-game series at Candlestick Park. After winning the first game, the Giants had a 5-1 lead in the second game only to see it get erased by their rivals.
Giants’ catcher Brian Johnson delivered in the 12th inning when he hit a walk-off shot against Mark Guthrie to force a tie in the NL West. The next day the Giants went up one game in the division and went on to win their first NL West title since 1989.
1. Shot Heard 'Round the World
There is no doubt that this is the best moment of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. In mid-August of 1951, the Giants were trailing the Dodgers by 13.5 in the division and needed a miracle to climb back into the race. The Giants went on a tear to win 36 of their remaining 43 games to force a three-game playoff against the Dodgers.
After each team split the first two games, it appeared the Dodgers were heading to the World Series after leading 4-1 in the ninth inning of the rubber match. After the Giants scored one run, Bobby Thompson walked up to the plate with two runners on and one man out.
The rest my friends, is history.