LOS ANGELES — Dave Roberts made some changes to his lineup for Game 5 against Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, trying to spark the Dodgers’ offense against a left-handed pitcher.
The usual suspects are starting against southpaws, with catcher Carlos Ruiz joining fellow right-handers Kiké Hernandez, Howie Kendrick and Yasiel Puig. But the order is a bit different as well.
Adrian Gonzalez was moved down to sixth in the batting order, his first time batting sixth since June 16, 2012. He batted sixth three times in that week for the Red Sox, but before that hadn’t hit there since 2006.
Ruiz, a career .276/.376/.436 hitter against lefties who hit .271/.407/.386 against them this year, bats cleanup. He’s just the third Dodgers catcher to bat cleanup in a postseason game, joining Roy Campanella (nine times, 1952-55 World Series) and Russell Martin (four times, 2008 NLCS)
Howie Kendrick starts in left field and bats fifth.
“I just felt that 4-5-6 is where the difference is going to be, and there’s going to be some opportunities right there,” Roberts said. “I felt that those three guys that I have right there, I feel really good [for them] to drive in a run.”
Hernandez is at second base, the same position alignment with Kendrick as in Game 1. Roberts said that Kendrick feels comfortable in left and said he likes Hernandez’s athleticism and that he feels comfortable at second base. Hernandez is also batting leadoff, after a season of hitting .190/.283/.324.
He is 0-for-5 with two walks in the NLCS, including 0-for-1 with a walk against Lester in Game 1, the latter pointed out by Roberts.
“Since he’s come back for this series, hhis pitch recognition is much better,” Roberts said. “I feel comfortable with him trying to get on base instead of worrying about trying to drive in runs.”
Addison Russell, who homered and had three hits in Game 4 to break out of his 1-for-24 playoff slump, moves up one spot in the Cubs lineup, batting seventh in Game 5 while David Ross is catching and batting eighth.
This is the 34th start behind the plate for Ross in 35 Lester starts this season, including the playoffs. He started 31 of 34 Lester starts in 2015 as well.