Dodgers Advance to the NLCS for the Third Time in Five Seasons

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 09: Clayton Kershaw
PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 09: Clayton Kershaw /

How “sweep” it is to be loved by you, LA! The DODGERS ARE GOING BACK TO THE NLCS after sweeping the Dbacks! This year marks the third time in the last five years the Dodgers have reached the NLCS. But for the first time, they have swept the NLDS.

The Dodgers took the early lead in the first inning after Chris Taylor set the tone with a  leadoff double. The club was able to drive-in Taylor in after a Cody Bellinger RBI groundout to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. That was all that Yu Darvish would lead as he was steady in his Dodger postseason debut.

Yu Darvish was stellar, tossing five innings allowing only one run on two hits while accumulating seven strikeouts. Darvish was in control through the game, needing only 74 pitches to get through 5 innings. Without a doubt Darvish could have pitched deeper into the game but, an uneasy at-bat against Christian Walker in the 6th led to Roberts giving him the quick hook.

Roberts and Darvish were backed by good relief pitching out of the bullpen as Tony Cingrani took over for Darvish in the 6th and induced a rally-killing double play against David Peralta. Cingrani was backed by Brandon Morrow who toss 1 and 1 1/3 scoreless innings while facing the heart of the Dbacks lineup in the bottom of the 7th.

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The pitching staff did a great job closing out the game, but enough can’t be said about the offense facing former Dodger Zack Greinke. The Dodgers were able to get to Greinke early, scoring a run in the first inning.

The club continued to work the count and forced Greinke to throw nine 3-ball counts into the 5th inning. Greinke struggled with his command early and was up over 90 pitches by the 5th inning. Every Dodger continued to have quality at-bats tonight, making Greinke work hard for those outs.

Despite the Dodgers quality at-bats and Darvish’s dominant performance, the game was still 1-0 until Cody took over. With the only RBI in the game, Cody did what Cody does and went yard to left-center to extend the Dodgers lead to 2-0. Bellinger had himself a great day tonight, seemingly breaking out of his 1-10 NLDS slump by hitting a homer and making a fantastic play on defense to help end the inning.

The Dbacks would later narrow the gap on a Daniel Decalso homer in the 5th. But the push by the Dbacks would be short-lived, as Austin Barnes hit a line drive home run the following inning to extend the Dodgers lead to 3-1.

The Dodgers lineup continued to show what they have shown each of these first three games. Quality at-bats, with quality production. I don’t care what the boxscore says when you see they were 0-10 with runners in scoring position. The key here is how did the Dodgers get these runners in scoring position.

We are witnessing quality at-bats from every Dodger hitter 1-9. And now that Bellinger has seemingly come to life? Look out NL. Wait, scratch that, look out MLB.

Now the pitching. Yu Darvish was exactly as advertised when the Dodgers made this trade back in July. Five innings don’t jump off the page, but if you watched the game, you would have seen how dominant he was in those five innings were. This was what the Dodgers hoped to get with Darvish when they acquired him, and when you throw in the effectiveness of the bullpen, we have a six-inning baseball game.

Next: Heart of the Lineup?

Other notes worth mentioning.

  • Cody Bellinger saved the game with an over the rail catch to end the inning.
  • Tony Cingrani came in to pitch against a lefty ahead of Tony Watson.
  • Austin Barnes started over Yasmani Grandal even though Grandal caught Zack Greinke when he was a Dodger – Barnes rewarded Roberts with a homer in the 6th.
  • The Dodgers lost a run on a close play at the top of the 9th with Peralta throwing out Turner at home on a base hit that dropped that was a routine fly ball.

The Dodgers came away with a win due to their dominant back-end of the bullpen. Jansen did his thing and shut the door after a successful performance from Morrow. This team will not move onto the NLCS and wait for the winner of the Nationals/Cubs series. The good thing for the Dodgers is that they don’t have to worry about where the game will be played. The Dodgers have home field come game one in the NLCS.