Welcome to Press Your Luck. The game show where you manage the Los Angeles Dodgers and see how long you can leave your pitchers in the game without giving up home runs. Tonight's contestant is Dave Roberts. Roberts will be presented with different pitchers in different scenarios during the decisive Game Five of the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals, and we'll see how long he leaves those pitchers in the game before they give up homers. Ready to play? Okay. Here we go...
Lowering our announcer voice to a whisper, we tell you that first up is starting pitcher Walker Buehler. He's been great this season, pitched six shutout innings in the first game of the series, and has been staked to a 3-0 lead in this game. It's the sixth inning, Anthony Rendon doubles, then Juan Soto singles him home. It's 3-1, but no homers, so Roberts lets it ride.
In the seventh, still no home runs, but Buehler now has runners on first and second with two outs. What's this? Roberts cashes in his safety points and goes to the bull pen. In comes lefty and future hall-of-famer Clayton Kershaw. The stakes get higher.
Kershaw has had trouble with the home run ball this year, and a bomb here by Adam Eaton would give the Nationals the lead. Has Roberts made the right move? Yes! Eaton strikes out in three pitches! The crowd goes wild, Kershaw pounds his fist into his glove. Roberts is looking like a genius. But the stakes get higher as the game goes on. Will our contestant Mr. Roberts advance to the bonus round? We'll be right back (insert commercial here).
Okay, we're back, and as the intensity crescendos here at Dodger Stadium, Roberts is really going for it. Instead of having Kershaw celebrate his three-pitch strikeout and preservation of a 3-1 lead, he's leaving the crafty lefty out there to face right-handed hitting Anthony Rendon. Rendon doubled earlier off of Buehler, and is the best hitter on the team. Oh well, if he homers it's still a one-run Dodger lead.
The first pitch to Rendon is a curveball that misses low. Ball One. Kershaw has had recent trouble with the curve, but nobody throws it like he does. The next pitch is a high fly ball to deep left field. It is gone! A solo home run given up by Kershaw and it's now 3-2!
Roberts still has some points left from leaving Buehler in, but he's letting them ride and leaving Kershaw in. Next up is Soto, and he's left handed, exactly the matchup Roberts wanted. The first pitch to Soto is swung on and a high fly ball to right center field. It's outta here and the game is tied!! The Dodgers have blown the lead and our contestant is now bankrupt.
Of course, no one goes away empty-handed here on Press Your Luck. Roberts brought in Kenta Maeda who got out of the eighth inning with no runs allowed, and even went to a real relief pitcher in Joe Kelly who pitched a scoreless ninth. We go to the tenth and give Roberts one more chance. What is he to do?
Believe it or not, the Dodger bull pen was actually one of the best in baseball during the second half of the season, and there's a whole stable full of pitchers down there. Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling and Dustin May. He also has lefties Julio Urias and Adam Kolarek. But wait a minute, he's sticking with Kelly.
Kelly's been fortunate to have one good inning, but in the tenth with the season on the line, Roberts thinks he can get two. Eaton is first up, and he draws a walk. Kelly is looking tired and Rendon is up. Roberts should make a move now, but no, he stays with Kelly. Somebody get Roberts a pair of dice and blow on them. The pitch. Lined to left! Rendon doubles. Runners at second and third!
In the irony of ironies, Roberts has been criticized at times (by me and others) of making too many pitching changes. Kelly walks Soto intentionally to load the bases, and up comes former Dodger Howie Kendrick. Kendrick was traded by the Dodgers a couple of years ago, and the righty, known as a great hitter, but not a slugger, steps up to the plate.
It's now the Super Bonus Round. Dave Roberts, for all the marbles, and a trip to the League Championship Series on the line, what do you do?
Ladies and gentlemen, he's sticking with Kelly. The tension is palpable. Kelly's first pitch to Kendrick and his 23rd of the night is grounded foul 0-and-1.You know, for this great moment, we should turn things over to TBS play-by-play man Ernie Johnson.
“This is deep to center field. Bellinger's back. It's a grand slam! Howie Kendrick with a tenth inning grand slam to break it open... The former Dodger breaking hearts in Los Angeles!”
Oh, I'm sorry Mr. Roberts, your luck has run out. You lose, but thank you for playing. We have lovely parting gifts for you back stage.
Thank you for joining us on Press Your Luck, and remember to tune in again in February for our spring training edition. Good night, and enjoy the World Series.
The real World Series: With the Nationals beating the Dodgers and cruising to a 3-0 lead over St. Louis, we look forward to watching the American League Championship Series. We were waiting for that one anyway between the Yankees and Astros and it hasn't disappointed. The winner won't get the Dodgers in the Fall Classic, but it figures to be a great series.
Over-analytics?: In Game One of the American League Championship Series Saturday, Yankees Manager Aaron Boone removed starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka after six innings. What's so unusual about that, you ask? Nothing really, but Tanaka had only allowed one hit, no runs, and had thrown only 68 pitches. He also has a career 1.32 post-season earned-run average. Boone seemed to know what he was doing, though. The Yankees won 7-0.
Public Safety Power Shutoff: If you don't know what that is, you don't live in northern California. Pacific Gas and Electric Company voluntarily turned off power to hundreds of thousands of people because of potential high winds and wildfire danger. The bankrupt company is being blamed for starting at least two major wildfires, so they figure it's in their best interest. Schools and businesses have been closed. Hospitals are operating on emergency power, and our radio station in Grass Valley was off the air. Power went off early Wednesday morning. Some got it back Thursday evening, but for others, it wasn't until Saturday.
It was 38 years ago today (October 14) that my dad passed away at the age of 50. He died in 1981, and about two weeks later, the Dodgers won the World Series. Obviously that championship didn't mean that much to me then, except that I attended several games with my dad that season. I didn't think about this until a couple of weeks ago, but if the Dodgers won this year, that would have meant World Series titles in years both of my parents died (with one in between). That would have been cool, and made the Game Five loss to the Nationals extra sad.