The Los Angeles Dodgers head into game three of the NLCS at Wrigley Field up two games to none. However, this early lead means nothing.
Los Angeles Dodgers fans rejoiced at Dodger Stadium as Justin Turner’s home run landed into the glove of a fan in center field, the blow a three-run home run was the second ever walk-off home run in Dodgers playoff history.
It fell on the 29th anniversary of the first one, the one Kirk Gibson hit in the 1988 World Series. Though eerily similar, Turner’s home run was hit in National League Championship series giving the Dodgers a 2-0 series lead.
The Dodgers need two more wins to make their first World Series since the Gibson home run, fans should be happy but the reality is they’ve been here before. In 1985 the Dodgers were an underdog facing the St. Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers took the first two games outscoring the Cardinals 12-3.
The Dodgers were two wins to their second NL pennant of the decade, they had Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser available to get those two wins. They never got them in one of 13 times in baseball history the Dodger blew a 2-0 lead, suffering a walk-off home run loss to Ozzie Smith in Game 5 and another blown save in Game 6 when Jack Clark hit a ninth inning three-run home run that I’m positive still hasn’t landed.
2017 may turn out different but let’s remember these Dodgers won two games in last years’ NLCS. Against these same Cubs after back to back shutouts in game two and three the Dodgers had 2-1 lead, with two more home games to clinch a spot in the World Series.
They were never close, the Cubs routed the Dodgers 23-6 over the last three games. Every aspect of the team failed, they stopped hitting, stopped pitching, stopped fielding, and stopped winning.
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This year’s Dodgers a different look, they’re finding hitting where they couldn’t last year. Bottom of the order guys like Charlie Culberson has stepped up when needed, Yasiel Puig has become a catalyst for the team and most importantly the bullpen has been lights out.
After constantly having to bail out the starters who couldn’t get past five innings last year, this year manager Dave Roberts has efficiently managed his bullpen. The Dodgers bullpen has dominated the Cubs lineup, keeping them off the bases to the tune of one base runner in eight innings.
There are some signs that all isn’t perfect, despite having success against the Cubs bullpen the Dodgers have yet to get to the Cubs starters scoring three runs against them. With Corey Seager out and facing two possible right-handed pitchers in game three and four, the Dodgers will need to get help where ever they can get it to solve the Cubs starting pitching.
A 2-0 lead is a great start it’s taken a lot of poise and performance to succeed against a team with the Cubs capabilities, but if the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to make the leap into the World Series, they’ll still have to play better than they already have.