The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have one of baseball’s oldest rivalries, a blood feud that dates all the way back to their days in New York. That shared history of hatred makes it even better when the two teams are fighting for a playoff spot down the stretch. And with just a little over a month to go in the 2016 season, it looks like that’s exactly what will happen as they battle it out for the NL West title.
Following their latest three-game series, during which the Dodgers won two of three, Los Angeles currently has a two-game lead over the Giants for first place in the division. San Francisco’s consolation prize is that they have the NL’s first wild-card spot and a three-game margin for a postseason bid. But winning a wild card means a one-game playoff, rather than automatically playing in a best-of-five divisional series.
Will this year’s Giants-Dodgers pennant race provide any moments that fans will remember years down the road? With six games left in September, including the last three of the year, chances are high that something memorable is going to happen. Those moments will have a lot to live up to, though: The two rivals have already provided some great ones throughout the decades. Let’s take a look at some of the best September moments from the Giants and Dodgers while we prepare for what’s in store from them this year:
1962: The Giants had fallen behind the Dodgers in the National League on July 7 and didn’t sniff first place again until late September, at one point falling 5.5 games behind their rivals. A late season surge pushed the Giants within a game of the pennant on the last day, and they ended up winning their last game while the Dodgers lost, resulting in a tie for the NL pennant. A three-game tiebreaker series followed, with the Giants and Dodgers splitting the first two. In the deciding game, the Dodgers held a 4-2 lead going into the ninth inning before the Giants scored four runs in a furious rally, giving them the win and the pennant. They’d go on to lose in seven games to the Yankees in the World Series, but Giants fans could take solace in knowing they’d broken the hearts of the Dodgers to get there.
1982: The one time where both teams managed to knock the other out, though the Giants had the last laugh. Going into the final three games of the year, the two teams were both a game behind the Braves in the NL West. The Dodgers won the first two games in San Francisco, eliminating the Giants from playoff contention. The Dodgers needed to win the last game to at least tie the Braves for the division, and the game was tied going into the seventh inning. What followed was one of the most memorable moments of the rivalry: Joe Morgan hit a three-run homer, giving the Giants a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and the Dodgers were eliminated on the last day yet again.
1993: The Dodgers finally got their revenge. The Giants and Braves were engaged in the last great pennant race, with both teams neck-and-neck in the division while pushing 100 wins. The Giants went into the last series of the year in LA needing to win all four games, as the Braves finished up against the lowly Rockies. The Giants won the first three games of the series, thanks to heroics from the likes of John Patterson and Barry Bonds, and they went into the last game of the year sporting an identical 103-58 record with the Braves. Things didn’t work in the Giants’ favor, however. The Dodgers demolished the Giants by a score of 12-1, piling runs on while the Braves easily dispatched Colorado. The Giants finished 103-59 and didn’t make the playoffs, thanks to the Dodgers.
1997: In late September, the Dodgers visited San Francisco while holding a two game lead over the Giants in the division. The Giants basically had to sweep the series if they had any hope of winning the division. They won the first game on the back of a Bonds homer (his infamous piroutte home run trot), and they led by four runs in the second game before the Dodgers rallied to tie it. The game went into extra innings and would provide two of the biggest moments in the rivalry’s history: the Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs in the 10th and would fail to score. And in the bottom of the 12th, Brian Johnson hit a walk-off homer to give the Giants the win and tie up the NL West. The Giants took the division lead the next day and didn’t look back, leaving LA out of the playoffs once again.
2004: Another scenario where the two teams faced off in the last series of the season, with the Giants needing to sweep the Dodgers in order to force a one game playoff with their rivals in San Francisco for the division. The Giants won the first game and took a 3-0 lead into the ninth inning of the second game, knowing they had their ace Jason Schmidt lined up to pitch the last game of the year. It wouldn’t matter, though: the Dodgers would rally to score seven runs in the ninth, capped off by a Steve Finley walk-off grand slam to clinch the division and crush the Giants’ playoff hopes in the process.