LOS ANGELES (CBS SF) — It’s something computer analytics can’t measure nor money can buy. It’s called grit and it’s what powered the San Francisco Giants to a 1-0 victory in a pivotal Game 3 of their historic National League Divisional Series showdown with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On paper with the best-of-5 series tied at 1-1, it appeared everything pointed to a Dodger win Monday night.READ MORE: Oakland Police Seize Flamethrower, Drugs, Cash In Illegal Casino Bust
The nearly unbeatable Max Scherzer — one of baseball’s highest-paid pitchers at $34.5 million a season — was on the mound. Los Angeles had won 16 straight home games to end the regular season and the swagger had returned to a Dodger locker room filled with high-priced stars after a 9-2 win in Game 2.
But the steely will that has powered San Francisco to a franchise-record 109 wins this season reared its head. A former Dodger pitcher — Alex Wood — and the talented San Francisco bullpen ripped the heart out of the Los Angeles batting order.
And then there was Mother Nature. Even she was wearing Giants orange and black Monday night. The famed and fickle Santa Ana winds roared through LA.
But in between gusts — Evan Longoria, a veteran who has been struggling at the plate — launched the game’s only homer into the left-field seats.
Meanwhile, an equally powerful bottom-of-the-ninth blast from Gavin Lux ignited a celebration in Los Angeles dugout as he pumped his fist into the air sure he had tied the game.
Mother Nature said no way. A stiff headwind blasted the drive as it didn’t even make the warning track and was caught to end the game.READ MORE: Amid Team Struggles, Jimmy Garoppolo To Remain Starting QB For 49ers
“I mean, I knew I got every bit of it as far as how hard I could hit a baseball,” Longoria said of his blast after the game. “But, yeah, I mean, I wasn’t quite sure that it was going to go out. I mean, the conditions tonight were crazy. I mean, we were talking about it coming over. It’s like, I don’t think I stepped out of the box as many times in my career as I have mid-at-bat tonight. A couple times I felt like I was going to get blown over by the wind, a lot of dust in the eyes.”
Giants star Brandon Crawford, whose been playing MVP caliber baseball all year, came up with a defensive gem to preserve the win. With a man on second, Dodgers slugger Mookie Bett appeared to rip a line drive to left to possibly knot the score.
But Crawford rose up with an NBA-caliber leap and snagged the ball out of the air.
“There’s not a whole lot of time for anything really to go through my head,” he said. “Just catch the ball. That’s all I’m thinking. I think it had a little bit of topspin on it, fortunately, so I was able to just, and it was right over my head, so I was able to just jump and hope that it goes in my glove.”
Fate can be as fickle as the Santa Ana breezes.
The outcome left Dodgers manager Dave Roberts facing a difficult task. Win Tuesday or go home.MORE NEWS: 65-Year-Old Man Critically Injured In San Francisco Assault, Robbery
“Everything’s on the table and our focus has to turn to tomorrow and whatever it takes to win tomorrow and then we’ll kind of pick up the pieces after that,” he said.