SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Brandon Crawford brought his four kids into the ballpark for some throwing practice earlier this weekend, knowing they would play a key role in his special Sunday send-off.
Each one tossed a ceremonial first pitch during a day of celebrating the homegrown shortstop who as a boy dreamed of playing for the Giants but never could have imagined a 13-year career spent in San Francisco.
“They came in early with me and worked on it a little bit,” Crawford said.
The veteran shortstop came off the injured list to play what might have been his final game after 13 seasons with the Giants, and Kiké Hernández spoiled the farewell party by hitting a three-run homer to lead the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers past San Francisco 5-2.
“A little overwhelming. I'll probably take some time to process all of it,” Crawford said.
Dodgers slugger Freddie Freeman fell one double short of becoming the first player with 60 or more doubles since Charlie Gehringer (60) and Joe Medwick (64) in 1936.
Freeman was hit by a pitch in the first - two straight hit batsmen by rookie left-hander Kyle Harrison - and followed with three flyouts and a strikeout.
Crawford went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and batted leadoff for just the second time in his career to give him more chances to be celebrated, ultimately walking off the field to huge cheers in the top of the ninth as rookie prospect Marco Luciano replaced him.
“That was the time where I almost got a little emotional,” said Crawford, who took the microphone on the diamond after the game and thanked the fans. “I was just trying to kind of take it in. I just appreciate all the fans and cheers.”
He got to work early taking groundballs, then spent time signing autographs near the dugout. The 36-year-old four-time Gold Glove shortstop is concluding a $32 million, two-year contract he signed in August 2021.
Fans cheered him at every chance, jumping to their feet before he led off in the bottom of the first - and Crawford tipped his hat several directions acknowledging the crowd before stepping into the batter's box. He struck out swinging.
“Brandon, he's one of my top, as a manager, one of the top-10 players I get to see - maybe top-five favorite players,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He's one of those guys that could have played in any era. ...
"There's no self promotion. He minds the little things, he loves practices, he practices how he plays. He watches the game, he always says the right thing, he's always in the right place. He's a multiyear champion, he's a champion. And the Giants were lucky to have him wear this uniform his entire career, he was lucky to be a Giant his entire career.”
Los Angeles (100-62) won the season series 7-6 to reach 100 victories for a third straight year and fourth time in a row during a full season dating to 2019 - excluding the virus-shortened 2020 campaign.
The Dodgers didn’t get a hit until Will Smith greeted reliever John Brebbia (3-5) with a sharp single past a diving Crawford to start the sixth. Max Muncy walked one out later and Taylor Rogers relieved. He struck out Kolten Wong before Amed Rosario's RBI single broke up a scoreless game. James Outman then singled in a run before Hernández connected.
Harrison worked the initial five hitless innings, plunking three batters and walking two with four strikeouts in his seventh career start and second straight outing against the NL West champions.
Casey Schmitt homered in the sixth and eighth in his first multi-homer game for San Francisco, which was held to two or fewer runs in each of the final eight games to finish 79-83 and miss the playoffs for a second straight season after edging the Dodgers for the NL West crown in 2021.
The Giants' final home attendance was 2,500,153.
Crawford, who made his major league debut on May 27, 2011, will take some time during early part of the offseason to ponder what's next - and his family will provide some input. He has a fifth child on the way, too.
If Sunday marked his last game in a Giants uniform, he will have played 1,655 games for the team he rooted for as a kid and his 1,616 games at shortstop are most in franchise history, ahead of Hall of Famer Travis Jackson's 1,326 from 1922-1936.
Dodgers: LF Chris Taylor went down hard after being hit by a pitch in his left knee area with two outs in the fourth, limping to first base and testing it with some running before staying in the game. He exited after the inning with a bruise. ... SS Miguel Rojas sat out a second straight game with a tender left hand after getting hit by a pitch Friday night. He did some fielding work.
Los Angeles will open the NL Division Series at home in Dodger Stadium next Saturday.
The Giants are hopeful of having a new manager in place before the start of free agency after firing fourth-year manager Gabe Kapler on Friday.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb
Copyright 2023 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.