For the second year in a row, the Dodgers had to win multiple games at home to force a one-game playoff with the Astros to get into the NLCS. In 1980, the Dodgers swept Houston at Dodger Stadium in the final three games on the schedule, only to lose the next day in the divisional tiebreaker.
1981 NLDS Game 5 lineups
|LF||Cruz (L)||RF||Monday (L)|
In 1981, with the strike splitting the season in two, we have a divisional playoff series for the first time in MLB history. The Astros won the first two games at The Astrodome, but the Dodgers returned the favor with home wins in Games 3 and 4. That sets up Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.
Jerry Reuss starts against Nolan Ryan in the series decider, both coming off excellent starts earlier in the series. Ryan won a complete game in Game 1, allowing only a home run to Steve Garvey. Reuss pitched nine shutout inings in Game 2, but the Astros won in 11 innings.
Reuss in three starts this season against Houston has allowed two runs in 26 innings.
Both of these teams peaked at appropriate times. The Dodgers were 36-21 when the strike began, a half-game ahead of the Reds by virtue of playing one extra game. LA was declared first-half champ, then was an ordinary 27-26 in the second half. Houston was just 28-29 before the strike, but their 33-20 record once play resumed was good enough to win the second half, with Cincinnati (31-21) again finishing a close second place.
Ron Cey is still out with a broken forearm, so Pedro Guerrero will start at third base for the Dodgers. Should the Dodgers advance to the NLCS, they hope to have Cey, who last played on September 9, back by then.
Winner of this series will advance to play the Montreal Expos, who beat the defending champion Phillies earlier in the day.
We’re going to watch this via YouTube, starting at 4 p.m. PT.