LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers have a tall task still ahead of them, needing two wins over the Cubs to reach the World Series, and just one more chance to get one at home, with Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night.
The Dodgers were 53-28 at home during the regular season — only the Cubs (57-24) were better — and are 108-54 at Dodger Stadium in the last two seasons.
But they were 1-2 at home last season with home field advantage in the NLDS, and failed to advance. This season, without home field advantage in any round, they are just 2-2 at Dodger Stadium. Falling to 2-3 isn’t technically lights out, but it pushes them to the brink of elimination, needing to win two straight in enemy territory to beat the Cubs.
Here’s a radical thought — what about having a winning record at home, and heading to Chicago with two chances to close it out?
To do that, of course, the Dodgers will need to win a game started by an opposing left-handed pitcher, their Achilles heel all season. They hit — have you memorized these numbers yet? — .213/.290/.332 against left-handed pitchers in the regular season, last in MLB across the board.
The Dodgers 22-24 in games started by lefties in the regular season, and 0-2 in the postseason, including a Game 1 loss at Wrigley Field.
That Game 1 was started by Jon Lester, who also gets the ball on Thursday night for the Cubs. He has allowed two runs in 21 innings against the Dodgers this season, with 19 strikeouts and three walks.
Yasiel Puig is a career .282/.370/.476 hitter against lefties, including .261/.313/.471 in 2016.
Howie Kendrick is a career .291/.338/.432 hitter against southpaws, and hit .234/.333/.292 against them this year.
Kiké Hernandez has hit .270/.362/.478 against lefties in his career, but just .189/.308/.361 in 2016.
All three are expected to be in the lineup for the Dodgers in Game 5, per manager Dave Roberts. Simply put, the club has to get some sort of contribution from them, and others.
Otherwise, there’s no wiggle room at Wrigley.
NLCS Game 5 info
Dodgers and Cubs tied 2-2
Time: 5:08 p.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal)
Local radio: 570 AM (Charley Steiner and Rick Monday)
National radio: ESPN Radio (Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone)