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Wood takes big-game experience into crucial NLDS Game 3

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SAN FRANCISCO -- As he prepared to get up from the podium on Saturday night, A.J. Pollock dropped one last cliche on reporters. "We'll take it one game at a time and we'll see who we've got in Game 3," the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder said. 

Pollock was informed that manager Gabe Kapler had just named Alex Wood his starter. 

"Woody's going?" he said, the excitement showing. "Oh, nice."

There isn't a Giant who is more familiar to these Dodgers than Wood, who spent five of his last six seasons in Los Angeles, Before a matchup earlier this year, Wood and Jake McGee were given World Series rings because of their contributions to last year's title run.

Now, Wood is being counted on to help put an early stop to a repeat push. He'll go up against Max Scherzer in a crucial Game 3 on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, with the teams tied up after Saturday night's blowout. A few minutes after the game, Kapler admitted to what had become obvious all week as Wood threw bullpen sessions that positioned him as the No. 3 starter.

"First and foremost, he's just pitched really well for us, and in particular he's pitched well for us lately," Kapler said. "That's the main consideration. He's one of our best three pitchers right now."

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Wood missed time in early September as he battled COVID-19. He has allowed just two runs in 13 innings since returning to the rotation. The IL stint kept him out of the final series between the Giants and Dodgers, but he did face his old teammates -- many of whom are close friends -- three times this year. Wood gave up nine earned in 17 innings against the Dodgers, but he also struck out 22 batters. 


The Dodgers know him well, but he knows them better than anyone on the Giants' staff, and he won't be bothered by a sellout crowd at Dodger Stadium. He has pitched in that atmosphere many times before, and his teammates are confident he's ready for this latest big start. Wood has a 3.55 ERA in 20 postseason appearances, by far the most of any current Giants starter.  

"If you look at Woody's numbers in the postseason, I mean, he's been incredible, whether it's starting or coming out of the bullpen," Kevin Gausman said. "Obviously the Dodgers know that, too, because they had him for a long time. It's going to be a good matchup and I'm excited to watch Woody work."

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