Your favorite team loses in the postseason, but you don’t want to stop watching baseball. So you pick a team from one of the leftovers — and that team is definitely not the one that beat your team. Yet I root for the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.
Not because of the obvious — although that history aspect is pretty cool. I root for the Cubs because of Michael Montgomery. Check that — Mike Montgomery.
I’ve always known him as Michael. We both graduated from the same high school — Hart High in Newhall, Calif. — although it was 10 years apart.
By Cary Osborne
Jake Arrieta, who starts for the Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, again was the toughest pitcher to hit in 2016. He has led baseball two years running in lowest opponents’ batting average and fewest hits per nine innings.
But beyond the reigning Cy Young Award winner’s jump from a 1.77 ERA in 2015 to 3.10 in 2016, there are other signs that Arrieta was a different pitcher this season — which could be good news for the Dodgers, the team he no-hit in his last Dodger Stadium appearance (with a similar 5 p.m. start time) on August 30, 2015.
Before Saturday’s game, Dodger broadcaster Rick Monday, a Chicago Cub before his trade to the Dodgers in 1976, talked about the nuances of playing ball in Wrigley Field.
— Jon Weisman
By Cary Osborne
Washington Nationals’ Game 3 starter Gio Gonzalez has shut down the Dodgers in each of his last two meetings — 14 innings, one earned run. And we know about the Dodgers’ struggles against left-handed pitching.
But the Washington left-hander is not invincible, even if left-handed batters hit just one home run against him all year and OPSed .633 against him, compared to right-handers and their .756 OPS.
Atlanta got to Gonzalez pretty good on September 6, touching him up for eight hits and six earned runs. The Braves alternated left-handed and right-handed hitters in the first six spots in the lineup, and lefties went 6 for 9 against Gonzalez in that game.
However, in the 10 games in which Gonzalez allowed four runs or more, nine of the lineups he faced were predominantly right-handed.
There are three keys for Dodger hitters in this matchup, though: get ahead in the count, get on the fastball and get some runs early.
By Cary Osborne
The next time we see the Dodgers will be Friday in Washington D.C. for Game 1 of the National League Division Series — which has been a comfortable place for Los Angeles the last few years.
The Dodgers were 2-1 in Washington this year and last, 5-1 overall against the Nationals this year and 9-3 the last two seasons.
But the standout storyline heading into the series is health. The Dodgers, banged up all season — a Major League record 28 different players on the disabled list — are the healthiest they’ve been all season. And the opposite is true for the Nationals, managed by former Dodger hero Dusty Baker.
This morning, Vin Scully spoke on a conference call with the national media. Given the series beginning tonight at Dodger Stadium and the fact that he will call his final game October 2 in San Francisco, several questions circled around the Dodgers-Giants rivalry.
Here’s a sampling of what he had to say …
Sharing a memory of Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges:
With Russ, when I was back in New York, I can actually remember one night in his kitchen harmonizing with Russ and Ernie Harwell, one of the beautiful memories in my entire life.
On broadcasting Dodgers-Giants games in San Francisco, starting in 1958:
First of all, when we arrived at Seals Stadium, they did not really have any kind of a radio booth. We didn’t televise. So we actually were one row behind the regular fans, and once they realized that we were doing, for instance, a beer commercial live, why, they’d start hollering, just good-naturedly, but they’d start hollering the names of all the other brands of beer that they could possibly think of. So that taught us to record all the commercials rather than be heckled by the fans. And (also), in all honesty, I’d be doing the game at Seals Stadium, and a fellow would turn around and just say to me, “Do you have a match?” It was that informal and that close. So that was an experience. But it was new, it was exciting, and the fans were fun.
At Candlestick, the wind was a nightmare, but I also thought that the surroundings affected the personality of the audience. I could be completely wrong, but it was cold and raw, windy, and I think the people in the stands were unhappy and sometimes would take their unhappiness out. I mean, we actually had one or two players, if I remember correctly, go up into the stands over somebody making some terrible remark.
But once they moved to AT&T Park, it’s completely different. The fans are good-natured, they’re happy, they’re fair, they’re wonderful. And although I certainly know nothing about mass psychology and all that stuff, I think the weather at Candlestick kind of embittered the fan, and the weather at AT&T has made it a wonderful party atmosphere. No meanness at all.
On the essence of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry:
By Jon Weisman
As if to remind us not to get too cocky, Paul Goldschmidt scored the winning run Sunday against the Dodgers, in the last of the 173 innings they played against Arizona this year.
Nevertheless, the agony of wondering why the Dodgers would ever pitch to Goldschmidt took a vacation in 2016.
Goldschmidt, whose 1.085 OPS against the Dodgers from 2012-15 was the highest of any National League West batter, had only a .265 on-base percentage and .368 slugging percentage (.633 OPS) against Los Angeles this year.
In 83 plate appearances, the Dodgers walked him six times and took their chances 77 others. In those 77, they got 61 outs, including a sacrifice fly.
By Jon Weisman
So, did you hear the Giants are coming to town?
Though we’re more than a month removed from the All-Star Break and more than 75 percent through the 2016 regular season, tonight marks the start of the second half of Dodgers-Giants 2016: nine games, split over three series, across the next 30 days.
Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com, Phil Rogers of MLB.com and Sarah Langs and Mark Simon of ESPN.com have put together a pretty good collection of trends leading into this week’s series, to which I’ll add these items:
By Jon Weisman
Once Julio Urias takes his big-league ready stuff (detailed here by Ben Badler of Baseball America) to the mound Friday and throws his first pitch at Citi Field against the New York Mets, the immediate question will be — how many more pitches will he throw?
Urias’ season high in the minors this year is 82 pitches. That was spread across six innings, or 13.6 pitches per start — which is basically a Clayton Kershaw level of efficiency that you can only hope he might approach in his MLB debut. His Double-A high with Tulsa in 2015 was 89 pitches.
Someday, Urias will be allowed to break the restraints, but for now, you can’t imagine the 19-year-old hitting triple digits, and the Mets will no doubt be on a mission to make him build up that pitch count as early as possible.
To that end, I asked New York-based MLB.com columnist, Statcast expert and longtime Dodger blogger Mike Petriello what to expect from the Mets’ offense.
In a quiet, semi-private but warm gathering before Thursday’s game, the Angels honored Vin Scully, who made his last regular-season trip to Anaheim as a broadcaster.
Former Dodgers including Mike Scioscia, Alfredo Griffin, Mickey Hatcher and Ron Roenicke were joined by Mike Trout and Jared Weaver in making a lovely presentation.
— Jon Weisman