Max Muncy, Dodgers all but eliminating Giants puts fluke stamp on 2021 season

Adam Weinrib
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 06: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his second home run of the game, a solo shot against relief pitcher Dominic Leone of the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 6, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 06: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his second home run of the game, a solo shot against relief pitcher Dominic Leone of the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 6, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
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For the second consecutive year, the Los Angeles Dodgers ended the San Francisco Giants’ season on Tuesday. The only difference this time? The hammer came down on a relatively calm Sept. night at Dodger Stadium instead of during a tense late-inning, fog-filled elimination game of the NLDS.

But this year’s version made more sense, right?

After all, what were last year’s Giants doing winning 107 games to secure the NL West? What were last year’s Giants doing holding home-field advantage in a Game 5 against the Dodgers, buoyed by the likes of Late Night LaMonte Wade and Darin Ruf? What were last year’s Giants doing believing Logan Webb’s right arm was the most valuable commodity in the postseason?

This season, the best the Giants have been able to offer their fans was fringe Wild Card contention (with a third slot added) and the possibility that Joc Pederson returns for 2023. Fair trade?

Tuesday’s highly-telegraphed Dodgers win pushed the Giants’ elimination number in the beyond-locked-up NL West to one, meaning they could feasibly tie the Dodgers atop the standings if LA were to match their 28-game winning streak with a 27-game losing jag.

That’s unlikely, in our estimation, meaning the 8.5-game Wild Card deficit with multiple hurdles remaining is the closest path to contention the Giants can hope for this season. Never before has 2021 felt so far away.

Dodgers’ Max Muncy smashes Giants out of NL West race

With the Dodgers’ 6-3 win Tuesday, last season officially goes from a harrowing look at a potential new generation of plucky upstart Giants, led by Dodgers student-becomes-the-teacher Farhan Zaidi, to a bizarre footnote in LA’s divisional domination.

The Giants and Padres took divergent paths in their recent attempts to nudge and jostle the Dodgers. The Padres have attempted to buy and/or trade for the entire league’s worth of available talent, watching regression after regression prick their plan and leave them 19 games out in the West. The Giants? They went on a mission to uncover every stone, peek through every fence, and find undiscovered potential in every former Minnesota Twins ninth-round pick. For one year, it worked.

The next? Max Muncy’s remarkable 19th and 20th homers against the Giants since 2018 put a halt to the sequel. It goes without saying, but that’s by far the most blasts one man has smashed against San Francisco during that time frame, further eclipsing Trevor Story’s 14.

Could the Giants return to NL West contention in 2023? Sure. But it would take a monstrous free agent impact (who wears No. 99), as well as 17 different lucky roster bounces rippling across the landscape.

For now, it seems fair to celebrate just how far off San Francisco is from any semblance of their 2021 form, which is looking more and more incomplete by the day.

Shame, too. Because this Dodgers team could actually use a real test before the start of the postseason. Guess it’s not happening this week.

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