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What A Physicist Told Us About Whether The Wind Stole A Homer From The Dodgers To End Game 3

Gavin Lux makes a full swing with his left hand outstretched and a faded crowd behind him.
Gavin Lux #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers watches his fly out against the San Francisco Giants during the ninth inning in game 3 of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 11, 2021.
(Ronald Martinez
Getty Images)
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Did the Dodgers lose to the Giants Monday night? Or did they lose to the wind?

Is it perhaps a little of both?

To find out we called up an expert — a physicist — and, full disclosure, a Dodger fan.

David Kagan is emeritus professor of physics at Cal State Chico. He says it was clear that the windy conditions last night in Los Angeles affected the flight of the balls that were well-hit.

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The home run smacked by Giant Evan Longoria left his bat at 110 miles per hour and traveled 407 feet.

Evan Longoria watches the ball after connecting with his bat.
Evan Longoria #10 of the San Francisco Giants watches his solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning in game 3 of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 11, 2021.
(Ronald Martinez
Getty Images)

Contrast that with the Dodger fly ball that ended the game.

"Gavin Lux, his almost home run, the heartbreaker left the bat at 107 miles per hour, and it only traveled 369 feet," said Kagan, referring to the bottom of the 9th fly ball the Dodgers second-baseman seemed sure was outta there.

The difference in those at-bats? Longoria hit his home run during what was likely a lull in the wind and Lux hit the ball in the face of a gust, Kagan said.

As far as Kagan is concerned, Lux's contact in the bottom of the 9th inning would have easily been a homer on a windless night. And that would have tied the game.

Kagan said the wind seemed to be playing more of a role in what happened to balls hit in one particular direction.

"You could tell by the behavior of the outfielders that balls hit to left field were not traveling as well as balls hit to right field," he said. "The left fielders all seemed to go back on a well-hit ball and and then come in to get it. That was much less true of the right fielders."

He also mentioned wind as a possible factor in a long fly ball out by the Dodgers' Chris Taylor. (The Giants' Mike Yastrzemski also hit a long fly that was caught.)

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The gales of last night — thankfully — aren't expected to be a factor in tonight's game.The Dodgers head into Game 4 at 6 p.m. Tuesday down 2 games to 1.

What questions do you have about Southern California?

Updated October 13, 2021 at 10:05 AM PDT
This story updated with a quote from Kagan about where the wind played the biggest role.