Archive for the ‘ Postseason ’ Category

Reflecting on a Dodger season that came so close

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs

By Jon Weisman

Late on Tuesday evening, it had started to feel real, more real than it had felt in a long, long time.

Three nights earlier, the Dodgers had nearly stolen Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, despite their most disadvantageous pitching matchup and coming off an exhausting National League Division Series. No matter — over the next two ballgames, the Dodgers completely shut down the best team in baseball during the regular season, allowing not a single Cub to score. The offense pushed across six runs in Game 3, the pitching was as rested as it had been in two weeks.

Los Angeles was two games away from the World Series with four to play.

Four nights later, the Dodgers went to bed with their season over, left to ponder how far they had gone, how close they had come and how short they fell.

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Cubs make history, beat Dodgers for NL pennant

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Undeniably, emphatically, the Chicago Cubs have made 2016 their year.

And like Al Downing allowing Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in 1974, the Dodgers’ ultimate role in 2016 turned out to be as a springboard to history.

Putting the Dodgers on their heels from the second pitch of the game, the Cubs hosted a nine-inning Wrigley Field parade to a mad celebration of their first World Series in 71 years, capturing the National League pennant with a 5-0 victory.

For the third time in the past 28 years, the Dodgers came within two wins in the National League Championship Series of ending their own Fall Classic drought, their fans’ own suffering a pale footnote to the Windy City celebration triggered by the final out.

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Andrew Toles is the eye in the hurricane

scene

By Jon Weisman

Chicago is giddy with enough excitement and anticipation to spread all over the city’s famous hot dogs, if they weren’t so particular about what you put on their hot dogs.

Wrigley Field is jumping. The streets around the old ballpark are rollicking. At once confident and paranoid, Chicago is a quaking nerve brought to life, and the roar at Game 6 of the National League Championship Series will be deafening beginning with tonight’s very first pitch.

And stepping into the batters’ box for that very first pitch will be none other than Andrew Toles.

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Will Kershaw bust seven-inning barrier in Game 6?

2016 NLCS Game 5---Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers
Andrew Toles, LF
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Josh Reddick, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Chase Utley, 2B
Clayton Kershaw, P
Cubs
Dexter Fowler, CF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Ben Zobrist, LF
Javy Baez, 2B
Willson Contreras, LF
Addison Russell, SS
Albert Almora Jr., RF
Kyle Hendricks, P

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers have one big mountain to climb this weekend in the National League Championship Series, and in the process would surely benefit from Clayton Kershaw climbing a smaller one.

In 13 career playoff starts, Kershaw has completed the sixth inning 10 times, the seventh inning three times and beyond … not at all.

While Kenley Jansen is more than ready to go two innings in relief tonight, every extra out Kershaw might provide could be a benefit. And pitching on five days’ rest against a Cubs lineup he just shut out over seven innings, all is possible.

Two of Kershaw’s seven-inning starts came on short rest, when the Dodgers were glad for any effective innings they could get from their ace. He obliged, allowing one run in Game 4 of the 2015 National League Division Series before going that one better this week in NLCS Game 2.

The other was the opening game of the 2013 NLDS, when Kershaw struck out 12 while throwing a career postseason-high 124 pitches in a 6-1 victory over Atlanta.

Before Kershaw went on the disabled list this summer, length was one of his many calling cards. Nine times from April to June, Kershaw got at least one out in the eighth inning and seven of those times, he finished the eighth.
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It’s who scores the most, but it helps to score first

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-2-36-58-pm

By Cary Osborne

One truth about this National League Championship Series is that the team that has scored first has won every single game.

Is that coincidental? Maybe. But consider the starting pitching we’re seeing here. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester, in that order, ranked one through four in ERA among all starting pitchers who threw at least 100 innings this season. Jake Arrieta was 10th in the National League.

When these pitchers have a lead, the pressure appears to shift onto their opponents.

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Cubs’ comeback a model for Dodgers in NLCS

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

“Well, we’re working the at-bats,” said the manager. “Obviously we’re looking for more results. We did attempt to shake it up a little bit, and obviously didn’t play very well. But, listen, I’ve got a lot of faith in our guys. It’s a difficult moment to be in … you have to fight through some pretty stringent adversity. But that’s how this thing works sometimes. Again, from my perspective, there is nothing differently to do, except to really come out tomorrow with the right mental attitude, and that’s our best weapon, I think.”

That was Cubs manager Joe Maddon after Chicago lost Games 2 and 3 of the National League Championship Series, and it’s no different in substance from what Dave Roberts said after the Dodgers’ Game 5 loss.

While the Cubs had breathing room that the Dodgers now lack when Maddon made that statement, it was the steadying approach — the choice of poise over panic — that said it all. Given a chance to rebound, the guys who weren’t producing did just that.

As the Dodgers head to Chicago to save a dream, it’s worth keeping this in mind. This is the team that rallied from eight games back in the NL West, the team that rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the National League Division Series, the team that, up to now, has won every must-win game it has faced.

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After NLCS Game 5 defeat, it’s Kershaw and Hill again and pray for reign

hill-kershaw-3jo_8572

By Jon Weisman

The earth spins, seven days of suns rise and set, and here we are once more.

Two wins needed for land. Two games to do it, with two prime captains in Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill.

That’s the map of the world for the Dodgers, who find themselves back in the strait between exhilaration and elimination after losing Game 5 of the National League Championship Series tonight to the Cubs, 8-4.

Barely a week ago, Kershaw and Hill (with a large dose of Kenley Jansen and others) rescued the Dodgers’ title raft in the National League Division Series against Washington. Following two more victories in NLCS Games 2 and 3 against the Cubs, the Dodgers will look to circumvent their Game 4-5 losses and complete a happy repeat.

To continue scavenging sea and sky for good omens, know that those two wins followed an 8-4 Game 1 loss that played out similarly to Game 5, even to the final score. Tonight, the Dodgers fell behind early, tied the game — then watched that tie broken thanks to a home run off the previously stalwart Joe Blanton. There was even another late five-run eighth inning to ride out, and an even later short-lived comeback attempt.

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Vin Scully returns to say ‘It’s time for Dodger Baseball’

Prior to Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers called on a legend from the very recent past. Vin Scully, from a luxury box at Dodger Stadium, declared “It’s time for Dodger Baseball!” to a surprised and giddy crowd.

— Cary Osborne

Dodgers shuffle batting order against Jon Lester

NLDS GAME 3--LOS ANGELES DODGERS V WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Cubs
Dexter Fowler, CF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Ben Zobrist, LF
Javy Baez, 2B
Jason Heyward, RF
Addison Russell, SS
David Ross, C
Jon Lester, P
Dodgers
Kiké Hernández, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Corey Seager, SS
Carlos Ruiz, C
Howie Kendrick, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrián González, 1B
Joc Pederson, CF
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

It’s a small change in the batting order, but at the same time, the Dodgers’ most significant of the postseason.

Against Cubs lefty Jon Lester tonight, Dave Roberts has moved Kiké Hernández to the leadoff spot, with Carlos Ruiz batting fourth, Howie Kendrick fifth, Yasiel Puig sixth and Adrián González seventh.

In his first postseason appearance of 2016, Hernández walked twice and lined out against Lester in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, and Roberts said he liked the quality of his at-bats.

“And I think that since he’s come back for this series, his pitch recognition is much better,” Roberts added. “I feel comfortable with him trying to get on base instead of worrying about trying to drive runs in — and also to put Howie in the middle of things. I think that to be able to get a hit with guys on base, I feel very comfortable with that.”

Ruiz is starting at cleanup for the first time as a Dodger and the first time at all since May 16 with Philadelphia. Ruiz is 2 for 7 with a homer in the playoffs, including an 0-for-2 start against Lester.

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Dodgers facts and figures after four NLCS games

infielders

By Jon Weisman

With the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and Dodgers now tied at 2-2, let’s do what we did after it was tied 1-1 and reset the scene …

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