Dodgers Kill Narratives, Proceed to 2017 World Series 

We’ve all heard the narratives. The Chicago Cubs are 5-0 in elimination games. Clayton Kershaw can’t deliver in the crucial postseason game. But finally, this year is different. The Los Angeles Dodgers, after a 29 year drought, are returning to the World Series, defeating the Chicago Cubs by a score of 11-1.

It’s only fitting that Kershaw be the one to get the win that finally put the Dodgers over the hump to get to the World Series. Heartbreak after heartbreak through the last four postseasons, many of them coming off games that Kershaw pitched.  But not this time. Kershaw went six innings, allowing just three hits, one walk, one earned run, and five strikeouts for the win.

As with all the other games this postseason, it was a total team effort. The defense was phenomenal, with outstanding plays by Charlie Culberson, and Logan Forsythe. Hits came from up and down the lineup. Kenta Meada pitched a perfect seventh, Brandon Morrow allowed a hit but struck out the side,

The Dodgers started off hot, and just didn’t let up. A lead off walk to Chris Taylor turned into a run as Cody Bellinger doubled him in. Then, Enrique Hernandez lead off second with home run.

Taylor led third with a double, and Justin Turner promptly singled him in. Bellinger and Puig followed with singles, chasing José Quintaña from the game. Hector Rondon took over. Forsythe struck out, but Hernandez hit his second home run of the night, a grand slam that spilt the game wide open.

Logan Forsythe hits a two run double off of John Lackey in the top of fourth, making it 9-0. Kris Bryant spoiled the fun by getting the first hit of the game off Kershaw, a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth.

But Kiké was the star of the show, hitting his third home run in the top of the ninth, gathering seven RBI in one game, an NLCS record. Such a well deserved night for a man who has endured so much in the past few years, with his father battling cancer and his beloved Puerto Rico being decimated by a hurricane just a month ago.

The last out was fittingly made by Culberson, who filled in so well for the ailing Corey Seager. Fittingly, there were co-MVPs, Justin Turner and Chris Taylor. A total team effort that finally got them over the mountain that has been so hard to climb for so long. Game 1 of the World Series will be Tuesday, Oct 24 at Dodger Stadium, opponent to be determined.

(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)

 

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Dodgers Bring Back Righty Bats Behind Kershaw in NLCS Game 5

Just one day after the Dodgers failed to clinch a World Series berth by sweeping the Cubs in the 2017 NLCS, skipper Dave Roberts and his coaching crew have decided to revert to a similar right-handed based lineup which secured victories in the first two games of the series.

Chris Taylor is still atop the Dodgers’ batting order, but moves back to center field after handling the duties at shortstop in Game 4. Third baseman Justin Turner, the club’s hottest hitter in the postseason, slides back into the two-hole, followed by rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger hitting third. Right fielder Yasiel Puig stays in the cleanup spot and will be followed by Logan Forsythe batting fifth and playing second. Utility man Enrique Hernandez will hit sixth and play left field, while Austin Barnes returns behind the dish to bat seventh. Charlie Culberson will hit eighth and play shortstop. Staff ace Clayton Kershaw gets the start on the mound, batting ninth.

Turner reached base safely in all four plate appearances in Game 4 on Wednesday night, as he finished the game going 2-for-2 with a home run, an RBI and two walks. He blasted a solo home run in the eighth inning to cut the Dodger deficit to 3-2, recording his third long ball of the postseason and his second of the series. The homer gave him six RBI in the series, which tied Kirk Gibson‘s mark in 1988 for fifth most in the Dodgers’ LCS history, behind just Dusty Baker’s record of eight in 1977.

Jose Quintana gets the start on the hill for Chicago. The 28-year-old southpaw didn’t factor into the Game 1 decision after throwing five full innings and surrendering two earned runs on two hits and two walks while striking out four Los Angeles batters.

Between the Cubs and the White Sox in the 2017 regular season, Quintana posted an 11-11 record with a 4.15 ERA and 207 strikeouts over 188-2/3 innings. He made two appearances against the Nationals in this year’s NLDS, having started Game 3 and appearing in Game 5 as a reliever.

Like Quintana, Kershaw did not figure into the decision in the NLCS opener. He was also pulled after only five innings of work, having given up two earned runs on four hits and one walk while punching out four.

Kershaw makes his 21st career postseason appearance and 17th playoff start, as the three-time Cy Young Award winner is 5-7 with a 4.63 ERA over 95-1/3 IP in the postseason. Los Angeles has won six of the last seven playoff starts which Kershaw has made.

Once again, the Cubs will go with a different look in the batting order, most notably moving Albert Almora Jr. to the leadoff spot, and having utility man Ben Zobrist play right field and bat eighth.

Dodgers lineup:

  1. Taylor CF
  2. Turner 3B
  3. Bellinger 1B
  4. Yasiel RF
  5. Forsythe 2B
  6. Hernández LF
  7. Barnes C
  8. Culberson SS
  9. Kershaw P

Cubs lineup:

  1. Almora CF
  2. Schwarber LF
  3. Bryant 3B
  4. Rizzo 1B
  5. Contreras C
  6. Russell SS
  7. Baez 2B
  8. Zobrist RF
  9. Quintana P

First pitch at Wrigley Field is slated for 5:08 p.m. Los Angeles time.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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)

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers Have Finally Evolved into Legitimate Contenders

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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.

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Dodgers Handle Cubs in NLCS Game 3 at Wrigley

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(Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

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.

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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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