Two 100+ win teams in the NLDS. It was bound to go the full five games. It was bound to go down to the last strike. It was full of drama, tension, and excitement. It was also full of controversy. Ultimately, the Dodgers punched their ticket to the NLCS to face the Atlanta Braves.
With an 0-2 count and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer threw a slider to Wilmer Flores that caused Flores to check swing. It has been the consensus that it was not a swing, but first base umpire Gabe Morales ruled that Flores offered at the pitch, and the game was over.
Unsurprisingly, Giants fans did not take this well. Social media was ablaze.
With fairness to the Giants and their fans on an admittedly controversial call, Dodger fans were quick to point out an ironic parallel from the regular season. In July, the Dodgers lost a game immediately after a check swing call from Darin Ruf that was objectively more egregious. It may be seen as unequal given that this happened in a regular season game, however the Dodgers and Giants finished one game apart in the standings. This means that the blown call to Ruf that nixed the Dodgers win had implications that changed the division standings, the playoff wild card standings, and home field advantage. It can be argued that the missed call to Ruf carried equal consequences.
Fittingly, Ruf was asked about the Flores check-swing call which ended the Giants season.
“Obviously being able to see the replay – it didn’t look like he went but a checked swing earlier in the year helped us out too. It’s kind of funny how it comes down to these two events.”
Ruf admitting the parallels is admirable. Honesty can be under-appreciated at times, and Ruf's earnest attitude is refreshing.
It is also worth noting that Wilmer Flores' career numbers against Scherzer can be quantified as abysmal. He was 0-17 before that at-bat to end the game, and Flores looked bewildered by the first two pitches Scherzer threw. His initial instinct to swing at the pitch that ended the series was not an outlier, and statistically, it was likely he was going to strikeout.
Still, it is frustrating to have a game not play out without definitive results, and this call will be remembered whether it was correct or not.
The Dodgers take on the Atlanta Braves at Trust Park in Atlanta on Saturday night at 5:07 PST.