This just in. The Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the post-season looked like the Dodgers of June, July, and August, and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks to advance to play for the National League Championship.
The Dodgers won the first two games of the best-of-five series at home by scores of 9-5 and 8-5, and although the starting pitching was not stellar (ace Clayton Kershaw included), the offense came through, and the relief pitchers did the job. Tonight in Phoenix, it was a low-scoring 3-1 game, and although the offense had just enough, all nine innings were well-pitched, and the Diamondbacks were held to just three hits on the night.
Rookie outfielder Cody Bellinger drove in the first run of the night on a groundout, but would later hit his first-ever post-season home run, and also make a spectacular catch of a foul ball, tumbling into the Dodger dugout to do it. Right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish, acquired from Texas at the trading deadline July 31, only went five innings, but allowed just an early bunt single and a solo home run. He struck out seven and didn't walk anybody. The bullpen would only allow one hit the rest of the way, but it was a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth, which created some drama.
Arizona's star hitter Paul Goldschmidt struck out to end the game, former Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke took the loss, and the Dodgers now move on while the D-Backs go home. The Dodgers will face either the Chicago Cubs or the Washington Nationals next, with game one of that best-of-seven series starting at Dodger Stadium Saturday night.
By the numbers: The Dodgers only hit 3 home runs in the three games, and the Diamondbacks hit 7, but Los Angeles batted .298 to the D-Backs' .189... Justin Turner led the Dodgers with 5 RBIs in the series, but they all came in one game... Kershaw, who won game one, but gave up four solo homers, had the highest ERA of any Dodger pitcher that worked more than one inning in the series (5.68)... Pedro Baez made the post-season roster, but did not pitch. Instead of Baez, it was Kenta Maeda who worked the eighth inning in the clinching game, and retired all three batters he faced. Maeda was also the winning pitcher in game two.
What goes around, etc.: There's been a lot of 'unfairness' implied in the Division series over the last few years, that the wild card team with the worst record wins, or that the wild card knocks out a division winner in the Division Series. Road teams win more often in baseball compared to any other sport. That's just the way it is. Coming into play today, home teams in the playoffs this season were 11-1.
He said it: Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley, who was part of the TBS broadcast team during the Dodgers-Diamondback series, says he was chatting with a security guard on the way into Dodger Stadium, and while fumbling around for his credentials, told him “Yes I'm that guy.”, meaning the pitcher who gave up the home run to Kirk Gibson in game one of the 1988 World Series. The guard said that was good enough for him, and let Eck in the ball park.
They said it: Always looking for new sports vocabulary words like “resiliency”, we turn to TBS analyst Ron Darling. When describing the Chicago Cubs, he said he liked their “deepness.” I think he meant depth, but to redeem himself, he did drop a “proclivity” on us when talking about the talents of Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor. He gets an A for the second one... The Yankees, their fans, and the media have had a lot of fun with the legal puns when it comes to outfielder Aaron Judge. Fans wear robes, they 'all rise' when he comes to the plate, and FS1 reporter J.P. Morosi got into the act, maybe unintentionally, when he gave his “closing argument” in the case of Judge being the American League Most Valuable Player... Former pitcher and FS1 analyst David Cone dropped a Monty Python reference when talking about the nagging year-long injuries of Red Sox infielder Dustin Pedroia, who keeps playing and has never missed a post-season game due to injury. “It's just a flesh wound.”
Second Chance Football: Not counting our little blip two weeks ago when Buffalo beat Atlanta, we're still surviving in football after the Eagles beat the Cardinals. We've already used Carolina, New England, Green Bay, Atlanta, and Philly, so we choose Houston to beat Cleveland this week. Washington over San Francisco was tempting, but it seems too easy.
No second chance here: Hockey season started this week, and I wanted to watch the first-ever game of the NHL's newest franchise. I had the wrong date, though, and didn't record the Vegas Golden Knights' home opener. Too much baseball going on.
Today would have been Uncle Marty's 88th birthday, and it's also the 14th anniversary of my Aunt Judy's death (Yes, she died on her husband's birthday, which still seems cruel in the cosmic scheme of the things). My thoughts are with my cousins today.