Oct 17

NLCS Game Three, 2017

Dodgers at Cubs, 6:00 PM PT, TV: TBS

The visiting Dodgers send RHP Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86 ERA) out to keep the Cubs at bay and take a 3-0 lead in the series. The Cubs counter with RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA). Darvish had a good outing in Game Three of the ALDS against the Diamondbacks, giving up one run on two hits in five innings while striking out seven and not walking anyone. Hendricks had an excellent start against the Nats in Game One of the NLDS when he allowed no runs, but a less-than-stellar one in Game Five when he gave up four runs on nine hits in four innings. He may take some confidence from his two NLCS starts against the Dodgers last year when he gave up only one run on five hits in 12 2/3 innings.

Here are several news items pertaining to the Dodgers and this series: first, from MLB: Memories of last year’s Game Six loss and the subsequent ring ceremonies this year might be a prod for the Dodgers. Second, SI’s Jay Jaffe writes about Yasiel Puig’s discipline and flair. And finally, Rich Hill is known for his curve, but it’s his fastball that’s doing heavy lifting this season.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1978 The Yankees capture their twenty-second and second consecutive World Championship, beating Los Angeles with a 7-2 victory at Dodger Stadium. Playoff hero Bucky Dent, who collects ten hits in the six-game series, is named the the Fall Classic’s Most Valuable Player.

Other historical note: in 1989 as the Giants and A’s get ready to play Game 3 of the World Series, the Bay Area is hit by the massive 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake, which will be responsible for 63 deaths. The Candlestick Park contest is quickly postponed by Commissioner Fay Vincent, and he orders the evacuation of the ballpark.

Lineup:

Puig at cleanup. Pederson, Ethier and Utley starting. Grandal not starting. No siree, no lineup shakeups here.

Oct 12

NLDS Game Five, 2017

Cubs at Nationals, 5:00 PM PT, TV: TBS

The Cubs ask Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA) to be the stopper tomorrow in Game Five, while Dusty Baker and the Nats haven’t made their choice of pitcher known yet. It will likely be Tanner Roark, who was scheduled to start Game Four before the rain intervened, or Game Two starter Gio Gonzalez. Either way, it may be a low-scoring affair.

The pitchers have controlled the series for the most part; the Nationals’ staff has a 1.64 ERA over the first four games, while the Cubs pitchers have a combined 2.57 mark.

Update: it will be Gio Gonzalez. He pitched five innings of three-hit ball in Game Two.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1907 At Detroit’s Bennett Park, right-hander Mordecai ‘Three Fingers’ Brown throws a 2-0 shutout, beating the Tigers to capture the World Championship for the Cubs. Although Game 1 ended in a 3-3, 12-inning tie, Chicago becomes the first club to sweep a Fall Classic when the team wins the next four games.
  • 1929 The A’s, trailing 8-0 during Game 4 of the World Series, erupt for 10 runs in the seventh inning off three Cub pitchers en route to a 10-8 victory. Chicago’s Hack Wilson becomes one of the goats of the game when he loses two balls in the sun in center field.
  • 1949 Vin Scully, working his first broadcast ever, does the play-by play when Maryland defeats the Boston University at Fenway Park, 14-13. The football assignment marks the start the of a 67 year career in the broadcast booth for the Hall of Fame baseball announcer, who will be remembered as the iconic voice of the Dodgers.
  • 2012 The Nationals, twice within a strike of reaching the NLCS, suffer the worst collapse ever in a winner-take-all baseball postseason game when they are stunned by the visiting Cardinals. After his team takes a 6-0 advantage in the third inning and clings to a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth, Washington’s closer Drew Storen gives up four runs in the final frame, resulting in the eventual devastating 9-5 loss at Nationals Park.
  • 2015 The Cubs homer six times en route to an 8-6 victory over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field in the Game 3 of the NLDS. Chicago’s sextet of round-trippers, that included long balls from Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro, Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler, marks first time in postseason history that one team has recorded that many home runs in one game.
Oct 06

NLDS Games One

First Game:Cubs at Nationals, 4:30 PM PT, TV: TBS

The Cubs’ RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA) faces off against RHP Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52 ERA) of the Nationals. Hendricks started Games Three and Seven of last year’s World Series. In the final game he went 4 2/3 innings, gave up four hits and two runs and left without the decision. Strasburg didn’t pitch last postseason and famously sat out the 2012 playoffs as well. He made his only playoff start in 2014.

Second Game: Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:30 PM PT, TV: TBS

The Diamondbacks used both of their aces in the Wild Card Game, so they’ll ask RHP Taijuan Walker (9-9, 3.49 ERA) to get them of on the right foot against the Dodgers’ LHP Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31). Walker was 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA against the Dodgers this season in three starts. Kershaw was 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA against the D-Backs this year. This will be Kershaw’s 18th playoff appearance; it will be Walker’s first.

Today in Dodgers’ history:

  • 1941 In Game 5 of the Fall Classic, Tiny Bonham goes the distance, limiting the Dodgers to just four hits to give the Yankees their 12th World Championship in franchise history. In one inning during the Bronx Bombers’ 3-1 victory at Ebbets Field, the New York fireballing right-hander will need just three pitches to retire the side.
  • 1949 In Game 2 of the World Series, only one run is scored again, but Preacher Roe and the Dodgers win this contest at Yankee Stadium, 1-0. Gil Hodges’ second inning single drives in Jackie Robinson to even up the Fall Classic at a game apiece.
  • 1959 The largest crowd ever to attend a major league game, 92,706 fans, watches a nail biter as White Sox hurler Bob Shaw beats Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers, 1-0, in Game 5 of the Fall Classic.
  • 1963 The Dodgers complete a four-game World Series sweep of the Yankees as Sandy Koufax wins his second game, 2-1. Frank Howard leads the offense with a home run and a single, the only two hits Whitey Ford gives up, and New York’s first baseman Joe Pepitone’s error (loses a thrown ball in the white-shirted crowd) leads to the decisive run in the seventh inning.
  • 1965“Hey, skip, bet you wish I was Jewish today, too.” – Don Drysdale, commenting after the game about his poor performance on the mound with manager Walt Alston. Sandy Koufax declines to pitch the first game of the World Series against the Twins because the game is scheduled on Yom Kippur, the most sacred of the Jewish holidays. As the Dodger southpaw attends shul and fasts on the Day of Atonement, Don Drysdale gives up seven runs in three innings in the team’s 8-2 loss at Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium.
  • 1966 Jim Palmer becomes the youngest player to pitch a shutout in the World Series when the 20 year-old Oriole right-hander blanks Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers, 6-0. The contest will become more memorable next month when Koufax surprises the baseball world by announcing his retirement, making this game his last major league appearance.
  • 1966 In the same Game Two loss to the Orioles at Dodger Stadium, Willie Davis establishes a World Series record by committing three errors in one game. The center fielder’s blunders come on two consecutive plays in the fifth inning, the first by losing a fly ball in the sun, then by dropping the next fly ball, followed by overthrowing third base.
  • 1980 In the 163rd game of the season, 35 year-old knuckleballer Joe Niekro earns his 20th victory, going the distance to defeat the Dodgers, 7-1, in the winner-take-all contest for the NL West. With the win, the Astros hold on to capture their first title in the 19-year history of the franchise after losing a season-ending three game series to LA, (3-2, 2-1, and 4-3) that forced the one-game playoff.

Lineup when available.

Nov 02

World Series Game Seven, 2016

It’s a magical phrase for a sports fan, Game Seven. Just look at all the previous ones from the World Series.

Here you’ll find Grover Cleveland Alexander’s masterful job of relief in 1926, when he entered the game in the seventh inning of Game Seven after winning Game Six the day before and struck out the Yankees’ Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded to retire the side. You’ll find Dizzy Dean’s 11-0 shutout of the Tigers in 1934, with the left field fans showering Ducky Medwick with bottles after he spiked Mickey Owens in the previous inning. You’ll find Bill Mazeroski’s home run in 1960 and Luis Gonzalez’s bloop single over second base off Mariano Rivera in 2001. And you’ll find Gene Larkin’s single in the 10th inning of the Jack Morris shutout game in 1991.

Cubs at Indians, 8:00PM ET, TV: Fox

The Cubs ask Kyle Hendricks to be the man. He started Game Three, went 4 1/3 innings and gave up six hits but no runs in the eventual 1-0 loss to the Indians. He’ll be opposed by the Indians’ Corey Kluber, who’s already won Games One and Four in this Series for the Tribe. He’ll try to join a very exclusive club of pitchers who’ve won three games in a Series; the last member to join was Randy Johnson of the D-Backs in 2001.

Cubs Lineup:

Indians Lineup:

Oct 22

NLCS Game Six, 2016

Dodgers at Cubs, 5:00PM PT, TV: FS1

LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 1 Sv, 3.72 ERA this postseason) tries to keep the Dodgers afloat for a Game Seven. He’ll face RHP Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 3.00 ERA this postseason). They matched up in Game Two and Kershaw got the best of it, going seven innings and getting the 1-0 win. Both pitchers will have had five days rest, one more than usual. I doubt that makes a difference for either of them.

Lineup when available.

Huh. “Shake up the order” is the phrase of the day.

Oct 16

NLCS Game Two, 2016

Dodgers at Cubs, 5:00PM PT, TV: FS1

The Dodgers once again ask LHP Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) to pull their bacon out of the fire or stop the bleeding or pick your cliché. He’s pitching on regular rest from his last start, as long as you don’t count his bullpen heroics in Game Five of the NLDS against him. He’ll face RHP Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA). Hendricks finished up strongly, going 7-1 with a 1.72 ERA in his last 11 starts. Like Lester, he’s been his best at Wrigley Field (9-2, 1.32). We know what Kershaw’s done, although his strikeout to walk ratio is still startling: he struck out 172 hitters while walking only 11 (one intentionally). That is a 15.6-1 ratio.

The visitors always want to steal a game in the other team’s home park. The Dodgers had a shot at it last night but failed. They’re hoping they can do it tonight.

Interesting note: the Cubs didn’t face any of the Dodgers’ three most likely starting pitchers in this series during the regular season. Kershaw faced them twice in 2015, beating him at Wrigley and losing at Dodger Stadium.

Lineup:

Oct 08

NLDS Games Two, 2016

Update:

Dodgers at Nationals, 1:00PM PT, TV: FS1; Radio: ESPN

The Dodgers ask mid-season acquisition LHP Rich Hill (12-5, 2.12 ERA) to win Game Two. He’ll face RHP Tanner Roark (16-10, 2.83 ERA). Hill made six starts for the Dodgers and had a 1.83 ERA to show for them, even with his finger blisters. Roark was a good starter for the Nats in 2014, his first season in the big leagues, finishing 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA. In 2015 he was forced into the long man/spot starter role when the Nationals acquired starter Matt Scherzer from the Tigers. This season Jordan Zimmerman was gone from the rotation due to free agency, so Roark reclaimed his role as a full-time starter.

Lineup when available.

Giants at Cubs, 5:00PM PT, TV: FS1; Radio: ESPN

The Giants ask RHP Jeff Samardzija (12-11, 3.81 ERA) to stop the Cubs from taking a 2-0 lead in the NLDS. The Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA). Samardzija spent the first nine years of his MLB life in the Cubs’ organization until he was traded to the As in 2014. Oddly, Hendricks essentially replaced Samardzija in the Cubs rotation that season, as he made his first start for them five days after Samardzija was traded away.

Jun 02

Game 55, 2016

Dodgers at Cubs, 11:20AM PT, TV: SPNLA, CSN

Julio Urias (0-0, 10.13 ERA) gets the start which would normally be Kenta Maeda’s, but Maeda’s hand is still a little sore from getting hit with a line drive his last time on the mound. He’s expected to start Friday against the Braves in Los Angeles. Urias’s opponent today will be right-hander Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 2.93 ERA), who got a complete game win over the Phillies on May 28. Urias lasted only 2 2/3 innings in his major league debut against the Mets May 27.

Alex Wood has a posterior impingement of his elbow and will need four weeks of rest. After that he’ll start a throwing program and then pitch in a rehab assignment. Hyun-Jin Ryu threw a 90-mph fastball in Fresno last Wednesday and woke up with shoulder soreness, so the team has slowed his rehab down. Brandon McCarthy threw 45 pitches in two innings of bullpen work and hit 89 mph. Scott Van Slyke is expected to come off the 15-day DL this weekend in LA.

Lineup when available.

Oct 20

ALCS Game Four, NLCS Game Three, 2015

AL Game: Royals at Blue Jays, 1:00PM PT, TV: FS1

Two ex-Mets, right-handers and ex-teammates go at one another this afternoon. R.A. Dickey trots out his knuckleball for the Jays and Chris Young for the Royals.

NL Game: Mets at Cubs, 5:00PM PT, TV: TBS

Two right-handers start against one another in Game Three of the NLCS too, but Jacob deGrom of the Mets has an extra year under his belt in the bigs. deGrom was Rookie of the Year last year; this season was Kyle Hendricks’ rookie one. deGrom was excellent in Game One of the NLDS and pitched well-enough-to-win in Game Five; Hendricks went 4 2/3 in Game Two of the Cubs’ NLDS win and was lifted after surrendering back-to-back home runs.

Oct 10

NLDS Games Two, 2015

First game: Cubs at Cardinals, 2:30PM PT, TV: TBS

Down 1-0, the Cubs hope to bounce back with right-hander Kyle Hendricks (8-7, 3.95 ERA) going against the Cardinals’ lefty Jaime Garcia (10-6, 2.43 ERA). They would really like to see their Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Kris Bryant break out of his 3-for-30 slump in his last eight games. He’s never seen Garcia, but then only Starlin Castro of the Cubs has: the last time Garcia pitched against Chicago was in 2012. The Cardinals have seen quite a bit of the Cubs’ Hendricks, and some of them have done quite well against him.

Second game: Mets at Dodgers, 6:00PM PT, TV: TBS

The Dodgers send Zack Greinke (19-3, 1.66 ERA) to stop the Mets and their rookie righthander Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24 ERA). The Dodgers’ hitting is not firing on all cylinders, and some of that can be laid at the feet of the Mets’ de Grom last night. They have to get untracked today or they go to New York down two games to none with the prospect of having to win three straight to advance to the NLCS.

Don’t despair, Dodgers fans! From Roger Angell’s World Series column in 1965:

The Twins, having devoured Drysdale and Koufax on successive afternoons, now disposed of Perranoski.

[snip]

I came away with the curious impression that the Twins, after two straight victories, were only slightly behind in the World Series.

And we all remember how that Series turned out, don’t we?