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Giants' under-the-radar play keyed thrilling win at Dodgers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
LOS ANGELES -- In the long history of Giants postgame press conferences, this might have been a first. Manager Gabe Kapler sat down late Thursday night after a thrilling 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers and took control before he could be asked any questions.
Kapler really, really wanted to talk about a secondary lead.
The Giants did a lot right on Thursday night, particularly in the ninth inning. Darin Ruf drew a game-tying walk. LaMonte Wade Jr. followed with a two-run single. Jake McGee calmly set the Dodgers down in the bottom of the inning, clinching a series win and a three-game lead in the NL West. But none of that is possible without Jason Vosler's secondary lead.
Vosler drew a walk to load the bases for Thairo Estrada and got so far off first that he was able to beat Chris Taylor's throw to second base when Estrada hit a two-out grounder to short. Vosler was initially called out, ending the game, but replay overturned the call.
"I just wanted to point out and encourage everyone to take a look at Vosler's secondary on the back end of the Estrada ground ball, both the lead and the secondary," Kapler said. "I thought it was the most important play of the game, and it's really something that we teach as part of our fundamental game but you just don't see it that often, you just don't see it mean that much to a win as it did tonight. But I thought it was the most important play in the game and I just wanted to point that out."
Vosler has had some big moments for the Giants in limited time this year, and he was called up Monday to take Brandon Crawford's roster spot. As he walked onto the field for BP that day, he said he was looking forward to seeing Dodger Stadium full and finding out what that was like.
Well, there were 47,000 on their feet when Estrada came to the plate. As they all focused on Kenley Jansen, Vosler inched toward second base.
"(First baseman Max) Muncy was playing pretty far off the bag so I knew there wasn't a threat of him back-picking, so I was trying to get the biggest primary lead I could get," Vosler said. "And then just as a reminder, right before that pitch, (first base coach Antoan Richardson) said, 'Hey, make sure you get to second base on a ground ball.' I think I probably just got a little bit extra after hearing that. That inch or so probably makes a difference there."
Even with Vosler's effort, the Giants caught a couple of breaks on the play. Taylor might have had an easier shot at the out at first, and when he decided to go to second, seldom-used backup Sheldon Neuse let the ball come to him. Vosler beat it there.
"If we stretch, the game is over," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said later.
Instead, Vosler went to third on Ruf's walk. He scored on Wade's single, and when he got to the dugout, there was plenty of praise.
When Kapler took over two years ago, he insisted that the Giants would out-prepare every opponent, that they would focus on the little things that could make up for talent disparities at times. One of the best examples yet came when Vosler, a minor pickup in the offseason, shocked a packed house by beating a short throw to second base.
"I feel like anybody on our team does the same thing there," Vosler said. "I don't know how much extra credit I should be getting for that. Everybody came up to me after the game telling me how big of a play that was and obviously it feels good. It feels good to help the team win and then get the congratulations from your teammates."