After beating the Cubs, 6-0, in Game 3 of the NLCS, the Dodgers are two wins away from clinching their first World Series berth since 1988. The Dodgers have won four of their last five games overall, and at this point, it’s safe to say that fans are excited, especially after a string of disappointing postseason exits in recent years.
“They can feel it,” Los Angeles Times MLB writer Mike DiGiovanna said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They can sense a team that’s on a roll and a team in the Cubs that is really scuffling. So we’re in a great position right now.”
Rich Hill, 36, gave the performance of his life Tuesday, allowing just two hits in six shutout innings.
“I didn’t know that he would make it to the third inning tonight,” DiGiovanna said. “He walked two guys in the second inning, and then there’s a past ball and the Cubs get guys on second and third. His pitch count is up around 41, but he somehow gets out of that inning. His curve wasn’t incredibly sharp tonight, but he mixed in a few changeups that I think surprised the Cubs, and every now and then, he dropped down his little side-arm, three-quarters (delivery) with the fast ball and his breaking ball. (He had) very good control from the third inning on. I think they got him a 3-0 lead relatively early, in a game like this, anything your offense can do to help calm you down, I think it’s a plus. So he seemed to gain a confidence and a rhythm as he went along. This is a huge win, a huge game, for the Dodgers in that they finally won a game without Kershaw pitching. As good as they are, I don’t think they can win the World Series without having at least one more starter step up. So Rich Hill did that tonight.”
Joe Blanton, Grant Dayton and Kenley Jansen combined to pitch three scoreless of innings of relief, with Jansen recording the final four outs. He has now pitched six innings over his last three appearances.
“That division series clincher (against Washington) was a little bit stunning, but it worked out,” DiGiovanna said. “(Dave Roberts) brings in Kenley in the seventh inning and throws 51 pitches – a career-high. Luckily he’s got Kershaw behind him for the last two outs. He pitched in Game 2 on Sunday (and Game 3 on Tuesday). I can understand that. Even though it’s not a save situation, every single game in the postseason is huge. Kenley gets out of the eighth and the Dodgers tack on two more.”
Still, Jansen has thrown 90 pitches in his last three games; he threw just 56 in his previous three games. Should Roberts have kept Jansen on the bench in Game 3, especially with a 4-0 lead? Surely, Jansen’s heavy usage will impact his availability later in this series, right?
“He wasn’t really tempted by that,” DiGiovanna said of Roberts. “Kenley is in there, he’s hot, he’s got the momentum on his side. But with three straight games, I can’t see him going two innings in each of the next two games. You saw what the Cubs did against the Giants in that clincher with four runs in the ninth. I don’t think Dave Roberts wants to take any chances of something like that happening again.”
Game 4 is Wednesday in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. ET.