Fall Classic After 29 Years…

The Dodgers Win! Next Stop, the World Series!…

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for advancing to the World Series!  The Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS four games to one with their 11-1 victory on Thursday night.

Credit:  Wally Skalij-Los Angeles Times

It was a very impressive clinching victory for the Dodgers which featured three home runs and seven RBI’s from their utility outfielder, Enrique “Kike” Hernandez.

Credit:  Jamie Squire-Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw, very excited to be playing in his first World Series (and the Dodgers first since 1988), was outstanding. He pitched six innings, allowing only three hits, one run, a walk, and had five strikeouts. The bullpen trio of Kenta Maeda, Brandon Morrow and Kenley Janson pitched a combined three innings of one-hit scoreless ball with 5 K’s.  The Dodgers bullpen was simply incredible throughout the NLCS.

The defending champion Chicago Cubs could only muster one win in the NLCS, taking Game 4 by a score of 3-2 behind impending free agent Jake Arrieta.

They showed an interesting stat last night on TBS that there hasn’t been a team to win consecutive World Championships for 16 years or since the New York Yankees did it from 1998 through 2000 making it the longest streak in MLB history. With the Cubs’ ouster, the streak will continue for at least another year. The Dodgers also hold the longest post-season appearances streak without a championship, having failed ten times since they last won in 1988. They also lost four NLCS series in that time, including last year when the Cubs used the Dodgers as a springboard to the championship.

Great job by manager Dave Roberts! He’s been the perfect fit for the Dodgers and he’s deserves much of the credit for the team’s success. No one could have predicted the breakout year for Cody Bellinger, but the Dodgers have been so successful getting huge results out of lesser known guys like Hernandez, Chris Taylor, and Brandon Morrow, among others. Taylor was recognized for his outstanding job filling in for the injured Corey Seager when he was named co-MVP, along with Justin Turner, for the NLCS. Then again, Taylor has answered the call wherever he has played this year.

Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson
Credit:  Matt Slocum-AP

Yasiel Puig was an enigma leading up to this season but whether it was Roberts, maturity, or hitting coach Turner Ward, Puig has gone from player most likely to be traded to a being a huge part of the latest championship club and its success.

The Dodgers now await the results of the American League Championship Series. The Yankees currently hold a three games to two advantage over the Houston Astros, but with two games slated in Houston for Games 6 and (potentially) 7, they face a difficult challenge. The Yankees only need one win but none of the road teams have won a game in the ALCS so far. The Dodgers probably do not really care who they play in the World Series but a Dodgers-Yankees match-up is very intriguing. I am sure that’s the match-up that TV networks want to see but the Houston Astros carry the story of “Houston Strong” as a city that overcame the worst flooding in its history earlier this summer. Based on regular season results, the Astros, with 101 wins (5 more in the post-season) are the second best team left standing in the play-offs behind the Dodgers. The upstart Yankees, a young developing team, won only 91 games as the Wild Card entrant.

Regardless of who they face, the Dodgers have to be the considered the favorite.  It’s a great time for Dodgers baseball! The World Series begins in Los Angeles on Tuesday, October 24th. FOX will televise this year’s Fall Classic.

Musical Managing Chairs…

The playoffs have not stopped teams with vacant managerial posts from taking action or at least talking action.

Ron Gardenhire is in contract negotiations with the Detroit Tigers to replace fired manager Brad Ausmus. The former long-time Twins manager was most recently bench coach for Torey Lovullo and the Arizona Diamondbacks. An announcement regarding Gardenhire could be made today according to Jon Morosi of the MLB Network.

Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora appears to be the likely choice to replace John Farrell as manager of the Boston Red Sox.  I thought that Brad Ausmus would get stronger consideration in Beantown, given his history with Red Sox executive Dave Dombromski, but Cora would be a great choice. There’s no doubt he has been the top choice for many despite the lack of managerial experience.

I feel bad for Dave Martinez, currently bench coach for the Chicago Cubs. He has deserved a managerial opportunity for a few years now but the door has not opened for him.

Credit:  Chicago Tribune

The New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies have openings but no clear cut favorites have emerged. I did hear the Mets liked the interview of their hitting coach, Kevin Long but it’s anybody’s guess who ends up with the job in Queens to replace Terry Collins.

The New York Yankees could have an opening if Joe Girardi decides to step away from the game at the conclusion of his team’s season. His contract is expiring and the decision to return will largely rest with Girardi and his family.

I have wondered about the Miami Marlins and their manager, former Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly. It’s assumed that Mattingly is safe with the new ownership group, particularly considering the shared Yankees history between new Marlins Co-Owner/CEO Derek Jeter and Mattingly. However, Jeter could decide to bring in “his” guy for the post.  Jeter has already poached Gary Denbo from the Yankees to be his VP of player development and amateur scouting with more moves expected.

The Baseball World anxiously awaits the Dodgers to win the World Series so that they can move on to preparations for the 2018 season. But sadly for the rest of baseball, you can be assured that Dodgers President-Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi aren’t sleeping. They’ll soon be at work to determine how they can improve Baseball’s best team. That’s not good news for the rest of Major League Baseball.

It’s time for the Word Series and it is time for Dodgers baseball!  Bring it home, Blue!


The Roller-Coast Week of Dodger Blue…

Credit:  Associated Press

One thing is for sure when you look back at a week for the Los Angeles Dodgers…it was eventful.  The Dodgers won their 11th straight game on Wednesday night in Chicago against the White Sox with a 9-1 victory.  The game featured the White Sox Major League debut for their new third baseman, Yoan Moncada.  Moncada, the top prospect in MLB who was acquired by the White Sox over the winter from the Boston Red Sox for ace Chris Sale, was 0-for-2, with a walk.  As for the Dodgers, Corey Seager hit his 15th homer of the season.  In a testament to light hitting shortstops over the history of the Dodgers organization, Seager’s blast, his 44th as a Dodgers shortstop, set the franchise mark for most career home runs from a shortstop surpassing Rafael Furcal.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had perhaps the quote of the week when asked about the acquisitions of OF J.D. Martinez by the Arizona Diamondbacks and LHP Jose Quintana by the Chicago Cubs, “We’re very aware of what’s going on around baseball.  We still know we’re the best team”.  Amen, Dave.

Credit:  Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Sadly, the Dodgers winning streak was ended by the Atlanta Braves who entered Thursday’s four-game series with a 45-48 record.  The Braves snapped the streak on Thursday with a 6-3 win over Brandon McCarthy and the rest of the Dodger Blue at home in Dodger Stadium.  Friday night, Georgia-native and former Brave Alex Wood suffered his first loss of the season against the Braves in an ugly 12-3 defeat.  Wood lasted only 4 2/3 innings, giving up 9 hits and runs (7 earned runs) and walked 4.  He also struck out 4 while watching his season ERA jump from 1.56 to 2.17.  A forgettable game but Wood (11-1) will be alright.  It was just one of those nights.  The Dodgers enter play today with  a 66-31 record and a comfortable 9 1/2 game lead in the NL West.  However, it would be nice to mix in a couple of wins in the Atlanta series.

Alex Wood
Credit:  Kelvin Kuo/AP

Last Saturday night, Cody Bellinger became the first Dodgers rookie to hit for the cycle.  He singled in the first inning, blasted a 406 foot homer to right in the third (his 26th of the season), doubled to deep right center in the 4th, and capped the cycle with a triple to deep right center in the 7th.  He grounded out in the 9th to finish 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  The Dodgers won the game, 7-1, over former manager Don Mattingly and the Miami Marlins.  Bellinger becomes the 9th player in Dodgers history to hit for the cycle.  In the game, Alex Wood became the first Dodgers pitcher to win his first eleven decisions in more than a century (the streak, which has noted above, ended with last night’s loss to the Braves).

On Tuesday night, Clayton Kershaw picked up his 15th victory of the season in a dominating performance in Chicago against the White Sox.  Kershaw went 7 strong innings in the 1-0 victory, giving up 7 hits, striking out 7 and walking only 1 in the scoreless outing.  The White Sox had the tying run at first in the 9th inning against Kenley Jansen but he was able to strike out Omar Narvaez to preserve the win and shutout for Kershaw, picking up his 24th save of the season.

Yasmani Grandal showed his toughness in Thursday’s loss to the Braves that snapped the winning streak.  He had a root canal on Thursday morning, yet still managed to hit a two-run homer in the 6th inning of the 6-3 loss.  He also doubled in the 9th in trying to start what would prove to be an unsuccessful rally.  Ouch!  But nice job by Grandal to rebound from the dental chair.

The Dodgers had scouts watching Yu Darvish pitch on Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Darvish didn’t figure in the decision, an extra inning affair won by the Rangers, but he gave a quality start.  He did give up solo homers to Brad Miller, Corey Dickerson, and Mallex Smith, and was trailing 3-1 when he walked off the mound in the 8th inning.  A two-run homer by Shin-Soo Choo tied the game in the top of the 9th and Darvish didn’t return.  He finished with 8.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, and 12 SO with 101 pitches thrown.  It was the 32nd time in Darvish’s career he has thrown 10+ strikeouts. Darvish is clearly a rental as he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year but he would look very nicely slotted in behind Alex Wood in the rotation.

The Dodgers have designed reliever Sergio Romo for assignment.  The native Southern Californian and former Giants closer was not successful in Blue.  He was 1-1 with 6.12 ERA in 25 innings (covering 30 games) for the Dodgers.  He has given up 7 home runs this year, just 2 off his career high and the second most in his career.

Sergio Romo
Credit:  Alex Gallardo/AP

Teams seem to be scrambling for quality relievers.  The Yankees picked up David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, while the Seattle Mariners grabbed David Phelps and the Washington Nationals nabbed Sean Dolittle and Ryan Madson.  Any of those pitchers would have looked good in the Dodgers pen.

Hopefully, the Dodgers get back on track today against the Braves.  May the next post be about a new winning streak.  Go Dodgers!

Puig’s 3-Run HR caps comeback…

Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig
Credit:  Wilfredo Lee-AP

Starting the Second Half off right…

Not content with having the most wins in the first half, the Dodgers kicked off the second half with the lead in most wins (albeit a tie with about half of the teams in MLB). Still, it was an incredible comeback win (again) for the Dodgers as they overcame the Miami Marlins and their closer, A.J. Ramos, in the 6-4 victory at Marlins Park in Miami.

The Dodgers scored the first run of the game in the second inning in bizarre fashion.  Joc Pederson opened the inning with a double of Marlins starter Dan Straily.  Yasmani Grandal hit a single to right, moving Pederson to third.  The Marlins caught Grandal off first base and had him in a rundown that they failed to convert, with second baseman and former Dodger Dee Gordon throwing off the mark to home which allowed Pederson to score.  Chris Taylor then singled but Grandal was nailed at the plate to end the inning.

The Marlins tied the game in the 4th when Martin Prado doubled to center with two outs and J.T. Realmuto singled to center, scoring Prado.

Solo homers by Yasiel Puig (449 feet) and Corey Seager in the top of the 5th put the Dodgers up 3-1 but the Marlins came right back in the bottom of the inning to take the lead.  Ichiro Suzuki, pinch hitting for Straily, has hit by a pitch to reach first base.  Dee Gordon bunted, but Yasmani Grandal throw to Corey Seager at second to force out Ichiro.  With Gordon on first, Giancarlo Stanton lined a double to right, scoring Gordon.  A passed ball allowed Stanton to advance to third.  Christian Yelich struck out for the second out.  Marcell Ozuna walked to put runners at the corners.  Justin Bour drilled to double to left that went to the wall, scoring both Stanton and Ozuna, to give the Marlins the 4-3 lead.  Brandon McCarthy was pulled and replaced by Ross Stripling who retired Martin Prado to end the inning with no further damage.

The Marlins bullpen held the Dodgers in check until the 9th inning.  Miami brought in A.J. Ramos to finish the game.  He retired the first two batters…Cody Bellinger on a ground out and Logan Forsythe by strikeout.  Joc Pederson, with two outs and down to 2 strikes, singled to right.  A wild pitch moved Pederson to second, but it didn’t really matter as Yasmani Grandal walked on a full count.  Trayce Thompson replaced Grandal at first.  Another wild pitch moved the runners to second and third.  Ramos had the next batter, Yasiel Puig, down to 2 strikes, but Puig homered to left center to give the Dodgers the 6-4 lead, much to the chagrin of current Marlins manager and former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

Kenley Jansen finished out the Marlins on 13 pitches (two groundouts and a strikeout) for his 22nd save.  Dodgers win!

The Dodgers (62-29) moved 8 1/2 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings with the win.  The D-Backs lost, 4-3, to the Atlanta Braves.  The Colorado Rockies fell 10 1/2 games behind with their 14-2 loss to the New York Mets.

The San Francisco Giants finally get ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner back today but trailing the Dodgers by 27 games, I’ll really go out on a limb and say that he’s not going to make much of a difference.