Dodgers pick heartbreaking time to lose first Max Scherzer start

This was supposed to be the overmatched pitching matchup to end all overmatched pitching matchups. Max Scherzer, still undefeated in a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform, earned the right to face San Francisco Giants ace “TBD” in NLDS Game 3 after his team’s stirring 9-2 road win.

Everything was lining up. Even when that empty slot filled itself in with the name Alex Wood, there seemed to be no recourse for stopping Scherzer’s reign.

Mad Max was brilliant in this one, sure. He was only touched up for a single run, which came off the bat of Evan Longoria, whose blast sliced through the whipping wind in the top of the fifth inning.

An 0-2 fastball, whistled 98 at the top of the zone. Longo poked it. Is what it is. Typically, solo home runs midway through the fifth at Dodger Stadium won’t beat you.

Nothing about the 2021 San Francisco Giants is typical, though. And now the Dodgers are on the brink of elimination.

The Los Angeles Dodgers lost their first Max Scherzer start in Game 3 vs the Giants.

Prior to this devastating offensive performance, which undid a brilliant Scherzer outing, the only time our faith in the ace ever wavered was late in the season in Colorado and at home against San Diego. The bulldog allowed five earned runs in each start; the Dodgers won both, securing 11 regular season wins in 11 post-deadline Scherzer outings.

Add the Wild Card Game to that tally, where Scherzer pitched very well, but not for very long, and the team entered this pivotal Game 3 on a 12-game heater when their most trusted starter was involved.

Of course — of course — it was the 107-win Giants who ended the streak, just two days after the Dodgers had parlayed their home-field disadvantage into an even playing field with a 9-2 Game 2 win.

It took every inch of Brandon Crawford’s glove and vertical leap. It took Jake McGee’s fortitude. It took Camilo Doval’s serenity. But it happened. The Giants’ pitched and defended a perfect game; the Dodgers were several feet short, several times.

When the wind knocked down Gavin Lux’s two-out liner towards the gap, his finger pointed in the air celebrating a triumph that never came, the loss became official.

Scherzer’s outing was pockmarked long before that, though, when the offense sleepwalked through innings one through eight. Even a perfect Scherzer wouldn’t have earned a win tonight — and he was damn close to it.

Heartbreaking timing.