As he was inducted into the San Francisco Giants’ Wall of Fame on Saturday night, Hunter Pence made a confident claim during a pregame address to a still-arriving crowd at Oracle Park.
“The Giants,” the retired outfielder shouted, “are coming back next year!”
The beatdown that followed suggested otherwise.
In the latest reminder of just how far apart the two clubs have drifted since last year’s historic division race and memorable division series, the Dodgers walloped the Giants 7-2 for their 100th victory of the season, and fourth 100-win season in the last six years.
Fourteen of those wins have come against the Giants (69-76), the Dodgers’ most in a single season of the rivalry since 1979.
The Dodgers (100-44) are also 31½ games ahead of the Giants, a disparity that would trail only the Dodgers’ 40-game edge in 2017 as the largest in a season this century.
And somehow, on a chilly Saturday night in the Bay, the gulf between the teams felt even wider.
The Dodgers had a Cy Young Award contender on the mound, getting six strong innings of two-run (one-earned) ball out of National League ERA-leader Julio Urías, who lowered his National League-best mark to 2.27 with an eight- strikeout display.
The Giants suffered through a disastrous bullpen game, their pitching plan getting shattered when their first reliever, Sean Hjelle, was shelled for six runs between the second and third innings.
The Dodgers flexed the full strength of their top-scoring lineup, racking up 13 hits on a night all their starters reached safely except Gavin Lux, who was returning from a neck injury in his first game since Sept. 1.
The Giants’ only highlights came between innings, as videoboard flashbacks of Pence’s eight-year career with the club distracted the orange-clad portions of a sold-out crowd from the second-straight blowout unfolding in front of them.
“It just seems like, whether it’s starting pitching like it was tonight with Julio, or getting a big hit and tacking on runs, we’re just playing good baseball,” manager Dave Roberts said.
The Giants briefly led in the first inning, after a couple of miscues by the Dodgers infield led to an unearned run.
But then Trayce Thompson belted a two-run homer off Hjelle in the second.
The middle of the Dodgers order strung together five-straight singles — including one from Justin Turner, who had a team-high three hits, plus a walk and two RBIs — to start a four-run third.
And Urías flipped into cruise control the rest of the way, completing six innings for his fifth consecutive start and giving up two runs or fewer in his 11th straight outing.
“Getting 100 wins isn’t easy,” said Urías, one of seven Dodgers who has played on all four recent 100-win teams. “But we’re on the right track and we’re doing everything we can to get ready for the playoffs.”
The Dodgers might not get the chance to complete a weekend sweep, with Sunday night’s finale appearing to be in danger of getting rained out.
Given the Dodgers’ sizable lead in the NL and MLB standings, and the Giants’ all but certain fate of missing the postseason, the game probably won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Yet, it’s possible the contest could be made up during a mutual off-day on Sept. 26 — a scenario that would force the Dodgers to return to San Francisco before heading to their final road series of the year against the San Diego Padres.
“People like money,” Roberts quipped when asked about that potential.
It might be the only consolation for a Giants team that hasn’t enjoyed many wins this year, especially against the Dodgers.
Within the next couple of weeks, the Dodgers’ bullpen could be back at full strength.
Roberts said Blake Treinen (shoulder) and Brusdar Graterol (elbow) could be activated, with David Price (wrist) close behind them. Meanwhile, Yency Almonte (elbow) is scheduled to go on a rehab assignment next week with triple-A Oklahoma City, where he will need at least a couple of appearances.
The team’s starting rotation, however, seems increasingly unlikely to have Tony Gonsolin (forearm) back in a full capacity for October.
The right-hander threw a bullpen session Saturday that Roberts said was “good.”
However, the manager also noted that Gonsolin still wasn’t back to throwing full intensity, and that it’s becoming “unrealistic” the first-time All-Star will be built all the way back up to where he was pre-injury in time for the playoffs — leaving his role for the stretch run yet to be determined.
“The number one thing is get him healthy, get him strong and kind of see where we’re at with that,” Roberts said.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.