PHOENIX — Though longtime fan Mary Hart was at the entrance to the visitors clubhouse at Chase Field late Monday night, she wasn’t the only entertainment tonight. The Dodgers provided a thrill themselves, finishing off an NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks in three games that couldn’t have gone much better.
“You look at the three games in the series, and they're all team wins,” said Dave Roberts, who joined Tommy Lasorda and Joe Torre as the only managers in club history to guide the Dodgers to the NLCS in consecutive years (coincidentally, all three did this in their first two years on the job).
“From the first pitch there was a plan in place, and we executed,” Roberts said. “Our guys, the hitting coaches did a great job preparing the guys, and we were relentless every single pitch, and really made Zack [Greinke] labor.”
Diamondbacks pitchers threw 175 pitches in nine innings in Game 3, and in the series averaged over 21 pitches per frame. Arizona starters pitched just 10⅓ innings in the series, with the bullpen tossing 14⅔ innings.
“It was sticking with the plan at the plate, making their pitchers throw as many pitches as possible, and get to that bullpen,” said third baseman Justin Turner, who was 6-for-13 (.462) with a home run and five RBI in the three games.
The Dodgers outscored the Diamondbacks 20-6 in the NLDS. LA advances to its third NLCS in five years.
“This team feels a little different. This is a group of 25 guys who understand what it takes to win games. The unselfishness of every guy in this room is incredible.”
Looking at the Game 3 win, a few things stood out to Turner’s point:
- The first run was scored by Chris Taylor, a career infielder who started the year in the minors and is now the club’s starting center fielder.
- The winning pitcher was Yu Darvish, a pending free agent this offseason who completely bought in to changes in his delivery, mechanics and repertoire after getting acquired on July 31.
- Cody Bellinger, who also homered off Greinke, made a fantastic catch as he tumbled into the Dodgers first base dugout. “I should have been a little quicker to save him, but it was a heck of a play going the rail,” Roberts said.
- The eighth-inning was dominated by Kenta Maeda, who late in September accepted a shift to the bullpen despite a team-friendly contract with incentives based on innings pitched and starts, and not on relief appearances. He struck out two.
“I don’t think anyone in this room would have thought Kenta would have gotten the ball in the eighth inning in a two-run game to pass the baton over to Kenley,” Turner said. “Outstanding job by him and all of our guys in the bullpen.”
Dodgers relief pitchers had a 2.31 ERA in the three-game sweep, with 10 strikeouts and one walk in 11⅔ innings. The walk was issued by Kenley Jansen, who walked all of seven people during the regular season.
At 12:10 a.m., these horses and their accompanying policemen finally abandoned their post, guarding the pool at Chase Field:
The Dodgers will probably hold workouts at Dodger Stadium later this week, but don’t have another game until Saturday, when they will host either the Cubs or Nationals in the NLCS.
The sweep not only avoided the annual question of whether to start Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 4 — for the record, it felt like this year they really were going to stick with Alex Wood, and avoid Kershaw until Game 5 — it also gave the Dodgers a luxury they didn’t have in either 2013 or 2016, their last two trips to the NLCS.
Starting Kershaw in Game 1.
“Now we have a little time to reset and line the names up how we want them, depending on the opponent,” general manager Farhan Zaidi said.