Historic Giants-Dodgers regular-season run might never be matched

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Giants, Dodgers had division race we've never seen before originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- After Sunday's NL West-clinching win, Giants manager Gabe Kapler talked openly of how important the four days off would be for his roster, which includes the oldest lineup in MLB and a bullpen that was worked hard down the stretch. A few minutes later, Buster Posey, who played in all six games on the final homestand, smiled and admitted he was pretty tired. 

The Giants won 107 games but still had to win on Sunday to avoid being stuck in a tie atop the division. They set a lot of records in 2021, including one they probably wish they never knew about. The 107 wins were the most ever by a team that clinched on the final day of the regular season. 

It was an annoying reality at times, but imagine being on the other side of it. The Dodgers won 106 games, the most ever by a second-place team, and their reward is a Wild Card Game on Wednesday night against a Cardinals team that was as good as anyone in September. 

This truly was a historic race. Since the divisional era began in 1969, the Giants and Dodgers became the first set of teams in the same division to win 105 games. Only twice before -- in 1993 and 2001 -- had two teams in the same division even won more than 100 games. 

"You're going to be hard-pressed to see another race like this for quite a while," Posey said. "I don't think we're going to see it too often, especially coming down to the last game."

Both the Giants and Dodgers rank in the top 12 for wins in a season over the last 50 years. The Giants finished tied for eighth, and they were one short of matching the NL record for wins in the divisional era. 

The race was particularly ridiculous in the second half. The Dodgers went 50-21 after the All-Star break, a 114-win pace. They picked up exactly one game on the Giants (50-23) over that span. They even seemed to win and lose on the same days most of the second half. 

According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Giants and Dodgers won on the same day 66 times in 2021. Only the 2001 Mariners, who won a record 116 games, and A's kept a closer pace in the same division. 

The teams clearly are the two best in the National League, but they can't meet for the pennant. They'll face off in the NLDS -- with the Brewers and Braves on the other side of the bracket -- but only if the Dodgers can first get through the Cardinals on Wednesday night. That won't be easy, either. The Cardinals crashed through the front door with a 17-game winning streak in September. 

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The Giants were already starting to think about their potential NLDS opponents on Sunday night. But after the game, as they sat around drenched in Coors Light and champagne, there was still some amazement about what they had just gone through over 162 games. It's something that has never happened before, and given how much MLB seems to want an expanded postseason, it's almost a certainty it'll never happen again. 

"To go through a regular-season stretch like this -- two, three months, and I know the guys down in L.A. were scoreboard-watching, too. It was just a really intense stretch of regular-season games and I really think it's a credit to both teams and organizations," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. "We're obviously thrilled that we were one game better over 162 games."

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