NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers continue postseason perfection vs. Chicago Cubs

By Tom Musick, The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 18, 2017 at 10:27 AM
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CHICAGO -- Twenty-nine years have gone by since the Los Angeles Dodgers last reached the World Series.

During that time, half a dozen presidents have lived in the White House. The Berlin Wall came down. Something called the Internet turned out to be pretty important.

All the while, Los Angeles' boys in blue tried and failed to return to the Fall Classic.

Now, the Dodgers are on the doorstep. They hold a commanding 3-0 advantage over the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series after cruising to a 6-1 victory Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

Yet Dodgers manager Dave Roberts insists that he is not thinking about what is at stake for his team.

"No," Roberts said without hesitation. "I think that right now, we're just laser focused on trying to win baseball games. If that presents itself, obviously it will be great. But right now our focus is on (Wednesday's opposing starter) Jake Arrieta and trying to figure out a way to win a baseball game tomorrow night."

The Dodgers have figured out how to win plenty of games so far this month. They improved to 6-0 during the postseason, which marks the best streak in franchise history.

Streaky play is nothing new for Los Angeles, which posted a remarkable 43-7 record from June 7-Aug. 5, only to drop 11 consecutive games in early September. That was the longest drought by any team this season.

Now, the Dodgers are the right kind of streaky once again.

"We're kind of back to being the fun Dodgers now the way we've played so far," said left-hander Alex Wood, who will take the mound in Game 4. "And that energy is back in our clubhouse."

The energy was apparent on the field during Tuesday's win. Andre Ethier and Chris Taylor each went deep, and Yu Darvish drew a bases-loaded walk to subdue a Wrigley Field crowd that arrived ready to party.

Instead, thousands of dejected Cubs fans left before the final out.

"There is nothing inspirational I could possibly say that's going to make a difference," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We've just got to go out and play our normal game tomorrow."

Trouble is, the Dodgers' normal game has proved to be better.

A talented rotation featuring Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood challenges opposing hitters because each starter features a different style. Meanwhile, the Dodgers bullpen did not allow a hit in 29 consecutive at-bats before Cubs catcher Alex Avila singled off Ross Stripling in the ninth inning Tuesday.

In each game of the series, the Cubs have scored first. In each game, the Dodgers have stormed back.

"You have a lot of guys (on this team) that don't take things for granted," Ethier said. "You know things aren't going to always come easy, and you don't have many opportunities when you're in this position.

"I think that's something we try to pass on to some of the younger guys is don't take these opportunities for granted, and going back to that five NL West championships in a row. This doesn't really happen, and you can't get complacent to think that year after year, this is going to be a thing."

The World Series has not been a thing for the Dodgers in nearly three decades. The team never has been closer to returning to the top of the mountain than it is now.

"These guys are really good over there -- NLCS three years in a row and a World Series champion," Ethier said. "So they know how to win. We're the ones who have to knock them off, and that's what we're trying to do."

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