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Giants need different October hero in Game 5 without MadBum

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Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford

Of course, it was all going to come down to Game 5.

The Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers' battle for the NL West crown came down to Game 162. The Giants won 107 games. The Dodgers 106. After the Dodgers won the NL Wild Card Game and the two teams split the first four games of the NLDS, both teams now have won 109 games. Only nine runs have separated them this season.

So, on Thursday, the two best teams in baseball will duel in a winner-take-all Game 5 at Oracle Park, with the winner advancing to face the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

Winner-take-all games have been kind to the Giants in recent memory. Since San Francisco lost Game 7 of the 2002 World Series, the Giants have won their last five games with all the chips on the table.

However, each of their last three winner-take-all victories had a common thread: One Madison Bumgarner.

In the 2014 NL Wild Card Game, Bumgarner spun a complete-game shutout in the Giants' 8-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then, with the title on the line in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, Bumgarner entered in relief and tossed five innings of two-hit ball to earn the save in the Giants' title-clinching 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Two years later, Bumgarner tossed another complete-game shutout, silencing the New York Mets in the Giants' 2016 3-0 NL Wild Card Game win.

The two winner-take-all games prior to Bumgarner's reign were won by Matt Cain during the Giants' march to the 2010 World Series title.


Of course, the Giants won't have Bumgarner in the stable to turn to Thursday night at Oracle Park. The veteran left-hander joined the Arizona Diamondbacks after the 2019 season.

Instead, the Giants will hand the ball to young right-hander Logan Webb in Game 5. Webb made his postseason debut in the Giants' 4-0 Game 1 win, holding the Dodgers to five hits over 7 2/3 innings.

While recent history might be on the Giants' side, the Dodgers will enter Game 5 with much more experience in do-or-die playoff games.

Los Angeles just beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Game on a Chris Taylor walk-off home run, and the current core has loads of playoff experience.

Mookie Betts (44), Corey Seager (54), Justin Turner (77), Cody Bellinger (59), Trea Turner (32) and Chris Taylor (55) all have experience in the October pressure cooker. Dodgers Game 5 starter Julio Urias will be making his 20th postseason appearance.

Of course, Buster Posey (57), Brandon Crawford (47), Kris Bryant (43) and Evan Longoria (34) all have played a significant amount of postseason baseball. But outside of those four, only Tommy La Stella has experienced playoff pressure before this series, and most of that came in seven games with the A's last season.

RELATED: Game 5 is what we all deserve

These Dodgers faced a winner-take-all game last postseason, when Urias retired all nine Atlanta Braves he faced to close out a 4-3 win in Game 7 of the NLCS. LA lost Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS to the Washington Nationals, as Clayton Kershaw gave up back-to-back homers in the eighth, and Howie Kendrick won it with a grand slam in the 10th.

They closed out the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 7 of the 2018 NLCS and saw their hopes dashed by the trashcan-banging Houston Astros in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.

These Dodgers are grizzled by postseason wars. While Betts and Trea Turner are relatively new additions, both one World Series titles before coming to LA.

Gabe Kapler's club has a few war horses in the stable but otherwise is relatively green. That can be a good thing. There is no scar tissue from past failures, no ghosts to emerge in the late innings.

But there's also no experience to fall back on if things go south early or get tight late. They'll have to rely on Posey, Crawford, Bryant and Longoria to guide them through a do-or-die game against their bitter rivals.

That just might be enough.

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