Cubs Sneak Past Dodgers in NLCS Game 4

The Cubs defeated the Dodgers 3-2 in the fourth game of the League Championship Series on Wednesday night, preventing Los Angeles from sweeping its way to the club’s first World Series appearance since 1988.

Second baseman Javier Baez provided the big bat for Chicago as he went yard twice—the first being hit in the bottom of the second inning into the left field bleachers, and the second coming in the bottom of the fifth frame. Both were of the solo variety, and both came off Dodgers’ lefty starter Alex Wood. Baez’s shot in the second was preceded by a solo home run off the bat of catcher Willson Contreras.

Despite not having pitched since September 26 in the regular season against the Padres, Wood was relatively sharp, outside of a few mistake pitches left over the center of the dish. He was removed after only 4-2/3 innings, throwing 70 total pitches, 50 of which were strikes. In all, Wood surrendered the three earned runs on just four hits, while walking none and striking out seven batters.

Rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner were responsible for the Dodgers’ lone runs of the evening. Bellinger’s shot was to the right-center field stands in the top of the third, while Turner’s blast went 400-feet over the wall in left-center in the eighth. Turner went 2-for-2 on the night coupled with a pair of walks. The only other Los Angeles hits was a single from outfielder Yasiel Puig.

The veteran tandem of Andre Ethier and Curtis Granderson, starting in left field and center field respectively, went a combined 0-for-8 at the plate with six strikeouts, as Granderson was punched out four times.

The Dodgers stranded a total of nine baserunners on the evening.

Dodgers’ righty swing man Ross Stripling replaced Wood in the fifth and retired three consecutive batters before being succeeded by southpaw Tony Watson in the sixth frame.

Right-hander Jake Arrieta threw 6-2/3 frames for the Cubs, surrendering one run on three hits and five walks while striking out nine. The Dodgers threatened in the seventh inning when Arrieta walked both catcher Yasmani Grandal and Chris Taylor, however, lefty Brian Duensing relieved Arrieta and induced a Bellinger pop out to end a potential Los Angeles rally.

Versatile righty Kenta Maeda entered the game in relief for the Dodgers in the seventh and retired the Cubs’ side in order.

Cubs’ closer Wade Davis replaced Duensing in the top of the eighth frame, and promptly gave up the home run to Turner to narrow the Chicago lead to one. Subsequently, Davis walked Puig, but escaped the frame after a Ethier pop-out, followed by a controversial Granderson strikeout which saw Chicago manager Joe Maddon ejected, and another strikeout of Chase Utley after a Yasmani Grandal walk. Davis would throw 34 pitches in the top of the eighth alone.

Tony Cingrani entered to pitch the bottom of the eighth for the Dodgers, and got into trouble after he hit Jon Jay with a pitch and surrendered a single to Albert Almora Jr. Josh Fields relieved Cingrani after Jason Heyward grounded out to second, and retired Kris Bryant to end the Chicago threat.

Davis struck out pinch-hitter Austin Barnes to open the ninth, and coaxed Bellinger into a double-play grounder to second to end the contest and register the save. Arrieta was credited with the win.

Staff ace Clayton Kershaw will take the hill for the Dodgers in Game 5 on Thursday night in hopes of punching a ticket to the World Series, while the Cubs will counter with southpaw Jose Quintana, aiming to stay alive in the NLCS.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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The Los Angeles Dodgers Have Finally Evolved into Legitimate Contenders

With the 2017 NLCS well underway, all of our postseason questions are finally being answered. Yes, the Dodgers and the Cubs are playing a rematch of last year’s Championship series, but this postseason is different, and we’re starting to see why. This Los Angeles team is almost unrecognizable from who we saw last year, as they lost a decisive Game 6 of the NLCS to the Chicago Cubs.

The 2017 Dodgers are resilient.

So far in this series, a series the Dodgers lead 3-0, L.A. has outscored the Cubs 15 runs to four, and has capitalized excellent pitching from their bullpen as well as their starters.

I remember the 2017 playoffs better than almost anything. I saw the way the Dodgers played, I had hope, and I had faith, and I wanted it to be enough but the Cubs appeared destined to win the World Series last year. 2016 was the year the Curse was meant to be broken. 2017, however, is the year that the World Series could come west, and the team from Los Angeles has the chance to show the world who they are.

The other day, I was thinking about all the differences between the 2016 Dodgers and the 2017 Dodgers, and there’s a lot. For example, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, and Kenta Maeda as a reliever, Austin Barnes, Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson,  Logan Forsythe, Kyle Farmer and Curtis Granderson.

That list makes up nearly half of the NLCS roster, and each and every one of those players has written themselves into the Dodger history books by what they’ve done this year.

The Cubs are an amazing team, after all, they’re the 2016 World Champions. I was in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and I saw them play at Wrigley Field and it was as close to perfect as baseball can get, but I don’t see the same Cubs team now that I saw last fall. They’re still really good, and they could definitely make this a series again, but I think the script has been rewritten for 2017, and it’s the Dodgers who will emerge victorious.

Nobody knows whats going to happen these next few days, but I have complete confidence in these Dodgers because this team is different, and they’re complex, and it’s those complexities that make them so tough to beat.

I remember how the postseason felt last year, and I can assure you that it felt nothing like it does this year.

There is still a lot of baseball left to play, but the Dodgers seem to be completely prepared for everything that lies ahead.

(Sarah is an eighteen-year-old from Southern California. She’s grown up a Dodger fan and her love for the team—as well as the game of baseball—has grown up with her. She’s now embarking on a year of writing, reading, and learning more about baseball before she leaves for college in 2018. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahManinger)

 

Dodgers Handle Cubs in NLCS Game 3 at Wrigley

Different city, same story. As the NLCS shifted from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to Wrigley Field in Chicago, the postseason gained a new level of intensity. This isn’t L.A., this is Chicago. This is a city that is still reeling from a World Series Championship. Chicago is a baseball town in every meaning of the word.

But the Dodgers haven’t wavered one bit.

Game 3 began with an epic pitching matchup; Yu Darvish against the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks. Darvish made his 4th career postseason start tonight, taking the mound after an amazing outing in Game 3 of the National League Division Series against Arizona.

Roberts sent out a different lineup in tonight’s game; starting Andre Ethier in left, a decision that would be celebrated in the top of the 2nd inning, as well as the top of the sixth. Roberts also made the call to put Joc Pederson in center, his first start of the postseason and moved Chris Taylor to shortstop. Both Taylor and Ethier homered in the first few innings of the game.

The Cubs struck first with a solo home run from Kyle Schwarber in the bottom of the first. The Dodgers answered when Ethier homered to right, off of his name on the right-field screen, to tie the game for Los Angeles.

After a 1-2-3 2nd inning for Darvish, Taylor homered to center, putting the Dodgers ahead. The Cubs stayed fairly quiet in the following innings, while the Dodgers plated Pederson on a triple from Chris Taylor.

With Darvish dealing, the Cubs offense was held to one run on six hits through 6-1/3 innings pitched by the Dodgers’ righty.

The Cubs brought on their bullpen to face the Dodgers in the 6th frame, with Carl Edwards Jr giving up an infield single on an error to Yasiel Puig, and a single to Ethier. After walking Austin Barnes, Dave Roberts made a call that seemed odd at the time, but I think we all found ourselves smiling in amusement and faith after it happened. Roberts sent Darvish to the plate with the bases loaded and two out.

He worked a walk on four pitches.

The Dodgers led 4-1 going into the bottom of the 7th, and Darvish took the mound once more and struck out Addison Russell. Southpaw Tony Watson finished the inning with Javier Baez hitting a pop fly, and then striking out Ian Happ to send the game to the 8th.

Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery jogged out of the bullpen to pitch the 8th for Chicago, giving up a walk to Logan Forsythe and a single to Barnes. After a wild pitch, a passed ball on a Charlie Culberson strikeout, and a Kyle Farmer sacrifice fly, the Dodgers ended the inning leading 6-1.

Brandon Morrow entered the game in the home half of the 8th, retiring Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to end the inning, leaving one runner on.

The Dodgers bullpen has been extraordinary this postseason, and it continues to be proven with every half inning.

Hector Rondon took the mound in the 9th for Chicago. Justin Turner grounded out to third base, and Puig was tagged out at second by an amazing throw from Schwarber in left. Kike Hernandez followed with a two-out single to right but was caught stealing to end the inning.

With the game heading into the second half of its third hour, the Cubs were down to their final three outs. Ross Stripling came on to pitch in the home half. The new Cubs catcher Alex Avila singled to left on a 2-2 count, bringing pinch-hitter Albert Almora to the plate with nobody out. Almora hit a line drive to left that dropped just past Hernandez and rolled into the iconic ivy of Wrigley Field, causing both Almora and Avila to end up at third, as it seemed that Almora had thought that Avila would round third and head home. The umpires discussed the call, and as they did, Dave Roberts motioned toward his bullpen, bringing on closer Kenley Jansen.

The play was reviewed and the umpiring crew determined that the ball was caught in the ivy, resulting in a ground rule double, sending Almora to second and keeping Avila at third.

Facing his first batter, Jansen got Russell to hit a pop fly to first-baseman Cody Bellinger. On deck was Cubs pinch hitter Tommy La Stella, who struck-out on a cut fastball. With two outs, Ian Happ, who was 0-1 in the game, struck out to end it.

Many said that tonight was a must-win for the Cubs, and I agree. Some said that tonight was a must-win for the Dodgers, but if you’re asking me, every game in the postseason is a must win.

Tonight the Dodgers virtually erased their slump earlier in September, because they are not that team. The team that was on the field tonight is who they really are.

There’s always tomorrow, but after tonight, I’m not worried.

Now, who’s ready for some more playoff baseball?

(FOLLOW SARAH ON TWITTER: @SARAHMANINGER)

 

Dodgers Roll Out Lefty Bats for NLCS Game 3 in Chicago

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(Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

As the 2017 NLCS shifts to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Tuesday evening, many fans of the Dodgers knew the Los Angeles lineup would take a different look to face righty Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs, however, there were still a few surprises when skipper Dave Roberts finished writing out the card several hours before the onset.

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So Far in the 2017 Postseason, Everything’s Falling in Place for Dodgers

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(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

It’s a happy Monday morning for Dodger fans—so many of us still on a high from the epic Justin Turner walk off home run to put the Dodgers up 2-0 on the Cubs in the NLCS.

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Turner, Dodgers Walk Off in Game 2 to Take Commanding NLCS Lead

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It’s been awhile since there was a dramatic walkoff win at Dodger Stadium, but tonight’s was historic, and well worth the wait. Justin Turner hit the first walkoff home run in Dodgers‘ postseason history since Kirk Gibson‘s in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, 29 years to the day.

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Dodgers Reload Righty Lineup to Face Jon Lester in NLCS Game 2

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(Mandatory Credit: Alex Gallardo/AP)

One day after rallying to defeat the Cubs in the opener of the 2017 NLCS, the Dodgers have elected to employ the same lineup they used in Game 1 to face Jon Lester and the Cubs in Game 2.

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Dodgers Offense Rallies to Defeat Cubs in NLCS Opener

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(Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Terrill /AP)

Despite a slow start offensively on Saturday evening, the Dodgers rallied with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the contest, and eventually went ahead to stay in the sixth en route to capturing the opener of the 2017 NLCS with a 5-2 victory over visiting Chicago.

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Dodgers Shakeup NLCS Roster by Adding Charlie Culberson, Joc Pederson

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(Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

While many thought the NLCS roster of the Dodgers would be almost identical to the squad which captured the Division Series in a three-game sweep over the Diamondbacks, the club announced several changes on Saturday morning, most notably the exclusion of shortstop Corey Seager, who has been suffering from back problems.

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Well-Rested Dodgers Begin Preparing for Cubs in NLCS Rematch

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The baseball postseason sure is a funny thing. While the long layoff time between series could be an issue for the Dodgers in the end, I’m glad that they’ve avoided any of the drama that has been going on then the other divisional series so far.

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