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

Arnold Nichols
October 11, 2017

The catcher and pitcher swaggered into each others' arms and were soon joined by a stream of sprinting, leaping teammates trying to storm their way into history.

The fitting end to a frustrating night for the Arizona Diamondbacks came on a signature cutter from Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Oliver Perez came in and Rizzo looped his first pitch into shallow left-center, finding a patch of grass between three Washington fielders. Or it was, if you want to believe Yasiel Puig, an absolute licking.

Dodgers relievers Pedro Baez and Ross Stripling are on Los Angeles' roster for the NL Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. They were better than the Diamondbacks coming into the series, and everyone knew it, but there was still a chance that the ghosts of September would creep up and take the Dodgers down. Los Angeles distressed the locals by taking a dip there after clinching the NL West in 2013, but for this party, police officers on horses waited at the warning track to keep the Dodgers away.

It was a tough ending to a big turnaround season for the Diamondbacks, who went from 69-93 in 2016 to 93-69 this year.

But this time the Dodgers did something more compelling.

D-Backs Manager Tory Lovullo allowed Greinke to stay in the game after throwing a little over 100 pitches.

Both the stars and role players have made an impact for the Dodgers in the first two games of this series. It was about rediscovering their focus, and bringing back the fun.

Even as the Dodgers won eight of their final 10 regular-season games - against mostly inferior opponents - they did not make a convincing argument that they were all the way back from their unusual, late-season malaise.

"You look at the three games in the series, and they're all team wins", said manager Dave Roberts, whose club outscored Arizona 20-11.

No, this was all about Dodgers baseball. Former Dodger Zack Greinke started for the Diamondbacks, but was gone in the sixth after the Barnes home run. After holding Arizona to one run, Darvish was pulled in the sixth following a high pitch that hit Christian Walker in the helmet.

Then again, there is a big difference between playing and watching. At the time, the Dodgers led by two runs and Darvish had only thrown 74 pitches, and some shook their head when lefty Tony Cingrani entered the game.

Dodgers starter Rich Hill, who played college ball at MI, gave up two runs on three hits in four innings. Maeda who was a starter for the majority of the 2017 season, has taken on a relief role for the postseason.

"I must be one of the most playoff-experienced guys without any World Series experience", said Ethier, 35. The Cubs beat the Dodgers in six games in the NLCS a year ago.

"They're really deep, top through bottom".

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