The Dodgers once more ask LHP Clayton Kershaw to be their ace and get them back to even in the series, which the Braves still lead 2-1 despite the bludgeoning they took yesterday. Kershaw is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 14 postseason innings this year. The Braves hand the ball to yet another rookie (in nine postseason games they’ve started six rookie pitchers), a righthander named Bryse Wilson. This will be his first postseason appearance. He was 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA in six games in 2020, two of which were starts. It’s not expected that Wilson will be in the game very long, but he could be the reincarnation of Howard Ehmke. Who knows?
Let’s hope the Dodgers repeat yesterday’s first-inning exploits:
Today in Dodgers’ history:
1981 With Dave Righetti, Ron Davis, and Goose Gossage combining to shut out Oakland, 4-0, the Yankees sweep the A’s to capture their thirty-third American League pennant. The Bronx Bombers will face the Dodgers in the World Series for the third time in the past five Fall Classics.
1988 In his only plate appearance in the Fall Classic, a limping Kirk Gibson, appearing as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Game 1, sends a two-out, 3-2 pitch from relief ace Dennis Eckersley over the right-field fence, giving the Dodgers a 5-4 victory over the A’s. The round-tripper marks the first time a World Series game ends on a come-from-behind home run in the final inning.
2008 In Game 5 of the NLCS, the visiting Phillies beat the Dodgers, 5-1, to win their first pennant since 1993. Southpaw Cole Hamels, the series MVP, hurls his third postseason gem, and Jimmy Rollins starts the Philadelphia attack with a leadoff home run to start the game.
2017 Twenty-nine years later to the day, Justin Turner follows Kirk Gibson into franchise folklore when he hits a postseason walk-off three-run home run in the 12th inning of the LA’s 4-1 victory over the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS. In 1988, a hobbled Kirk Gibson, in his only Fall Classic appearance, came off the bench to hit one of the most memorable round-trippers in World Series history, giving the Dodgers a come-from-behind victory against the A’s in Game 1.
Two grizzled lefties have at one another in Game Two: 33-year-old Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA) for the Cubbies and 37-year-old Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32 ERA) for the Dodgers. Lester is the active leader in postseason innings pitched with 143 1/3. He worked 9 2/3 innings in the NLDS against the Nationals, making one start and giving up only two runs for a 1.86 ERA. He’s 2-3 with a 3.89 ERA in seven career starts against the Dodgers. Hill gave up two runs on three hits in four innings against the D-Backs in Game Two of the NLDS. He’s only faced the Cubs twice in his career, once in 2011 and once last year in Game Three of the NLCS when he went six scoreless innings.
Today in baseball history:
1946 In Game 7 of the World Series, the Cardinals beat the Red Sox, 4-3, when Enos Slaughter streaked home from first on Harry Walker’s single. The play surprises everyone, including cut-off man shortstop Johnny Pesky who hesitates, as legend has it, throwing the ball home.
1970 Brooks Robinson is selected as the World Series Most Valuable Player after batting .429 (9/21) and driving in six runs during the five-game set against Cincinnati. The Orioles’ third baseman becomes the first player to be named the MVP in the Fall Classic, an All-Star game (1966), and for his league (AL-1964).
1988 In his only plate appearance in the Fall Classic, a limping Kirk Gibson, appearing as a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers in the ninth inning of Game 1, sends a two-out, 3-2 back-door slider from the A’s relief ace Dennis Eckersley over the right field fence. It’s the first time a World Series game is ever decided on a come-from-behind home run in the final inning.
RHP Kenta Maeda (12-6, 4.02 ERA) takes the mound against RHP Chris Stratton (2-3, 4.10 ERA) in San Francisco.
Maeda allowed one unearned run over five innings on Wednesday against the D-backs. He’s 3-1 with a 4.58 ERA in four career starts against the Giants. Stratton has both started and relieved this season; he’s been much better as a starter. He’s got an 8.59 ERA in relief. As a starter he’s made five starts and has gone 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA since the All Star break.
A sad note: former Dodger (and nine other teams’) scout Mel Didier died Sunday night at home in Phoenix. He was 90 years old. His most memorable find was probably his analysis which showed that the Athletics’ Dennis Eckersley liked to throw backdoor sliders when the count was full and first base was open. He told the Dodgers’ hitters that before Game One of the 1988 World Series. What was the count to Kirk Gibson when he hit that game-winning home run? 3-2. What was the pitch? A backdoor slider.
Today in Dodgers’ history:
1959 The Dodgers end Elroy Face’s consecutive win streak at 22 with a 5-4 victory over the Pirates. The reliever, who will end the season with an 18-1 record, is beaten by Chuck Churn, the winner of only three major league career victories.
1966 In his first major league at-bat, John Miller homers off Lee Stange in the second inning of the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over Boston at Fenway Park. The 22 year-old left fielder, whose total of 10 hits in his 32-game career will include just two round-trippers, will become the only player to hit home runs in his first and last major league plate appearance when he goes deep as a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers in his final turn at bat in 1966.
1998 Kevin Malone is named as the Dodgers’ general manager, replacing Tommy Lasorda, who is promoted to Senior Vice President of the team. The “new sheriff in town” tenure in Los Angeles will be marked by the signing of high profile players to huge contracts, including Kevin Brown’s seven-year deal making the right-hander the first $100 million man in baseball.
Historical note of more than passing interest to Cody Bellinger fans: today in 1956 Frank Robinson ties Wally Berger’s 1930 National League record for home runs by a rookie for home runs with his 38th in the Reds’ 11-5 victory over the Giants at Polo Grounds. A’s first baseman Mark McGwire established the major league mark for freshman homers with 49 round-trippers in 1989. Bellinger has 36 with 18 games to go in the season.
Lineup when available.
Tonight's Dodger lineup at Giants: Granderson LF Seager SS Turner 3B Bellinger CF Puig RF González 1B Grandal C Utley 2B Maeda P pic.twitter.com/nospRks44K