Saturday, May 23, 2015

Henry Aaron Award: Giants foil Dodgers, again

Just as the Dodgers were about to set the all-time record for Henry Aaron Award title defenses, they ran into their nemesis for all time, the San Francisco Giants. The Giants shut out the Dodgers three straight in San Francisco this week, stopping the Dodgers at six consecutive Aaron defenses.

San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner beat the Dodgers for the third time in 2015 this week. The Giants snatched the Henry Aaron Award for the first time this season (SD Dirk/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Big Leagues in Los Angeles

You can leave it to the San Francisco Giants to ruin the fun for the Dodgers. But don't get the wrong idea. 

Some folks think the Dodgers are spooked by the Giants. They're not. The Giants don't beat their opponents by spooking them. The Giants win because they are good.

So, the Giants have done it to the Dodgers here, sweeping them three May 19-21 at AT&T Park to take away the Henry Aaron Award just as the Dodgers were poised to set a record with it.

Instead, the Dodgers came through that series heading into a record no one wants. The Dodgers didn't score a run for the entire series, going one-for-17 with runners in scoring position. The first two starting pitchers to take them down for the Giants were 39-year-old right-hander Tim Hudson and the nowadays unremarkable Tim Lincecum (though he is off to a nice start in 2015 — 4-2 with a 2.08 ERA). 

The finale went to Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who beat Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for the third time this season and may, in view of his 2014 World Series performance, be the top pitcher going right now.

The Dodgers entered the series with a record-tying six consecutive Henry Aaron title defenses, then went down by scores of 4-0, 4-0 and 2-0. 

Following the series, the Dodgers returned to Dodger Stadium and failed to score in their first four innings Friday night against the San Diego Padres. With a scoreless fifth inning, the Dodgers would have set their all-time record with 36 consecutive scoreless innings. With a scoreless game, the Dodgers would have been the first team to be shut out four consecutive times for the first time since the Chicago Cubs in 1992.

But Andre Ethier broke that streak for the Dodgers with a run-scoring double in the fifth. Before Ethier stepped in, the Dodgers had gone 133 consecutive batters without scoring a run. The Dodgers ended up beating the Padres Friday night, 2-1.

Anyway, the Giants have the Aaron again after their terrific run with it to end the 2014 season. The Giants have won it for the first time in 2015.

But the Dodgers took a big lead in the Aaron standings, in which they now are 15-10 with 22 days holding the honor. 

Now, it's the Giants' turn after taking down the Dodgers, as they will do to the Dodgers and as the Dodgers will do to them, because that's what these clubs have always done to each other. It's true that the Giants now have beaten the Dodgers in all six games the two clubs have played in San Francisco this season. But that isn't the Giants spooking the Dodgers. 

Remember that the Dodgers beat the Giants two-of-three at Dodger Stadium this year, and the Dodgers beat the Giants in seven of their last nine meetings last year, including five of their last six in San Francisco. 

Whichever club is riding high, that's the club that's going down when these clubs meet. It isn't spooks. It's just a great rivalry.