It was a makeup call, three months later
The awful check swing call against Wilmer Flores for the final out of Game 5 of the Giants–Dodgers series was a brutal way for San Francisco’s season to end, but the two teams might not have even gotten to a Game 5 if not for another terrible check swing call earlier in the season.
Way back on July 22, the Giants and Dodgers faced off in the finale of a four-game series at Chavez Ravine. San Francisco had won two of the first three games to maintain its slim lead over Los Angeles in the NL West standings. And the Dodgers came within one strike of salvaging a series split.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, Kenley Jansen worked the count full against Darin Ruf. The 3–2 pitch was at Ruf’s shoulders, so he checked his swing. If it was a strike, the game was over. If it was a ball, the tying run would be forced in. Ruf sure looked like he went around, but first base umpire Ed Hickox said no swing. The next batter, LaMonte Wade Jr., singled home two runs and the Giants went on to win.
It isn’t often that you can point to one bad call in a game in July as having swung the entire season, but that’s the kind of year it was in the NL West. The Giants ended up winning the division by a single game. If the call on Ruf had gone the other way and the Dodgers had won the game instead, they would have won the division and the Giants would have been forced to play the Cardinals in a single-elimination game.
That won’t be any consolation to Giants fans, though. It’s tough to imagine a worse way to be eliminated from the playoffs than on such an obvious checked swing.
Ruf was able to recognize the irony of the situation, though.
“At the time I didn’t know but obviously we’ve been able to see the replay and it didn’t look like he went,” Ruf told reporters after the game. “But a checked swing earlier in the year helped us out, too, so it’s kinda funny how it comes down to those two events.”
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