The Dodgers have returned to Milwaukee and will try to have a short stay as they take their 3-2 series lead into Game 6 tonight. Hyun-jin Ryu and Wade Miley return from their Game 2 starts to take the mounds for their respective teams.
What happens when a team has a 3-2 lead in seven-game series. The good news for Dodger fans is that in the 39 prior League Championship series (both AL and NL), the team that had the lead went on to win 28 of those 39 series. If you a Brewers fan, you could take some hope that returning home teams down 3-2 have gone on to win 7 out of 18 those series.
But don’t fret Dodger fans, the Dodgers do have as good as record as you can have when they were one game away from winning a NLCS on going to the World Series. In the prior six times the Dodgers had an elimination game to win the National League pennant, they won all six of those series. They are 6-3 in those games.
So here’s a trip down memory lane to go over those series as you get ready for tonight’s Game 6.
1974 NLCS - Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Dodgers won their first division title five years after they were created in 1969. They would play the Pirates who had been the standard bearer in the East in the beginning years of division play.
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the series when won both games in Pittsburgh. They returned to Dodger Stadium and the Pirates hit two home runs in the first inning and knocked out Dodger starting pitcher Doug Rau in the process. The Pirates would go on to shutout the Dodgers 7-0 to extend the series for one more day.
Rau’s ⅔ inning start is the shortest Dodger start in the NLCS and is second to Bob Welch’s removal in the first inning of 1981 World Series Game 4 start when Welch exited without recording an out.
Don Sutton ended the Pirates season by pitching eight-innings of one-run ball and the Dodgers rolled to a 12-1 win. Sutton won two games in the series, giving up just that one run in 17 innings pitched.
Steve Garvey hit two home runs and had four hits altogether. Future Dodger Jerry Reuss lost both games in his matchups with Sutton.
1977 - Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
After winning Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead, the Dodgers had Tommy John to start against Steve Carlton. This game was played during a rain storm and some believe it should have postponed.
Dusty Baker hit a two-run homer to give the Dodgers the lead and John pitched a complete game to win 4-1 and put the Dodgers back in the World Series. Baker would be named the first NLCS MVP.
1978 - Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The Dodgers continued their success in Philadelphia as they won their fourth straight playoff games at Veteran’s Stadium to take a 2-0 lead in the series. However they were unable to complete the sweep as they lost 9-4 to Steve Carlton.
Game 4 would go to extra-innings and Tug McGraw got the first two outs in the tenth inning. Ron Cey would work a walk and then Dusty Baker, who was already 4-for-4, hit a wobbly drive to center. Garry Maddux ran in and dropped the ball to put runners on first and second.
Bill Russell came up and he would deliver the a back-to-back pennant to Los Angeles.
1981 - Dodgers vs. Montreal Expos
After trailing 2-1 in the series, the Dodgers rode Burt Hooton and their bats to a 7-1 win to setup a winner-take-all Game 5. Ray Burris and Fernando Valenzuela had their second matchup in the series. Burris had pitched a shutout to beat the Dodgers and Fernando in Game 2.
Burris was excellent again, allowing just a run in eight innings. Valenzuela matched him as they got to the 9th inning tied 1-1.
Steve Rogers was brought in to pitch. Rogers had started three games during this postseason that featured the first Divisional Series in the postseason due to the 1981 player’s strike. Rogers had pitched 26⅔ innings thus far, giving up just two runs so far.
With two outs and no one on, Rick Monday came to the plate.
Valenzuela returned to the mound and after getting two outs, he walked the next two hitters. Bob Welch would then be brought in and he would do the job.
1988 - Dodgers vs. New York Mets
After losing to the Phillies in 1983 and the Cardinals in 1985, the Dodgers would take a 3-2 lead in the 1988 NLCS when they won Game 5 on a Monday afternoon in October.
Game 6 went to the Mets and David Cone, so that meant Orel Hershiser would start for the third time in this series.
After scoring a run in the first inning off a Kirk Gibson sacrifice fly, the Dodgers would put the series away when they scored five runs in the second inning. Hershiser would pitch his first of three complete games in the 1988 postseason. He gave up five hits and two walks while striking out five.
That fifth strikeout would propel the Dodgers to the 1988 World Series
2017 - Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs
The 2017 Dodgers won their first six postseason games. They swept the Arizona Diamondbacks to win their NLDS against them. Then they took the first three games in their rematch against the defending World Series Champions Chicago Cubs.
Jake Arrieta and the Cubs avoided the sweep with a one-run 3-2 win in Game 4. Still needing just one win to go to their first World Series in 29 years, Clayton Kershaw took the mound at Wrigley Field to make that happen.
The Dodgers scored single runs in the first and second inning to take a 2-0 lead. In the third inning, they put the game away when Kiké Hernández, who had homered in the second inning, came up with the bases-loaded.
The Dodgers would go on to win 12-1 and take their sixth NLCS in their history.
The Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals lead the National League with 13 appearances in the NLCS. If the Dodgers can win in Milwaukee, they will tie the Cardinals with seven series wins. That also leads the National League.
Game 6 Info
Time: 5:39 p.m. PT