Viscarra’s Vice: Dodgers flipping script this postseason

first_imgOh yeah, something’s definitely different.The past five seasons of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball have reaped five divisional titles and three trips to the NLCS. But in each of those postseason runs, something was undoubtedly missing from those teams, hindering their pursuit of World Series glory. Dodger squads of postseasons past lacked something — something you couldn’t quite put your finger on — a playoff magic of sorts that would lead to ultimate failure come October.Over the past decade, Angelenos have witnessed the Dodgers strand runners in scoring position when a big hit was needed. When a strong inning of relief pitching was required of the bullpen, a Dodgers hurler would be sure to serve up a game-winning run to the opposition in devastating fashion. There’s been no shortage of postseason disappointment for L.A. fans over the past three decades.But at the exact moment when Justin Turner launched a 3-run homer past the outfield wall in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday night, I concluded that this year’s Dodgers team is in fact, different. Turner’s walk-off blast, which gave his team a 2-0 lead in the NLCS against the reigning champion Chicago Cubs, came on the exact 29-year anniversary of Kirk Gibson’s legendary World Series home run in Game 1 of the 1988 Fall Classic. It doesn’t get more Hollywood than that. The Dodgers’ bullpen also performed heroically in Game 2, completely shutting down the Cubs lineup from the sixth inning on after starting pitcher Rich Hill delivered five frames of one-run baseball. Dodgers relievers combined for four innings of shutout, no-hit baseball: The only Cub to reach base was Anthony Rizzo, who was hit by a Kenley Jansen pitch in the top of the ninth inning. Through the opening two games of the NLCS, the L.A. bullpen has retired 24 of the 25 hitters faced. Chicago has yet to record a hit or walk against Dodger relievers in this series.Jansen, in particular, has been automatic for the Dodgers, recording a save in Game 1 and a win in Game 2. Through 2.1 innings pitched against Chicago in the series, Jansen has struck out six and allowed only one hitter to reach base. Jansen is the finishing move that opposing teams never want to see the Dodgers resort to. “[The bullpen is] just executing pitches, and they’re ready when called upon and competing,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told the media following Game 2. Considering the Dodgers have been victim to bullpen meltdowns in past postseasons, it has been a refreshing sight to see Dodgers relievers locking things down in the early stages of the NLCS. Moving forward, Los Angeles must keep dialing up strong outings from the back end of its bullpen. Timely hitting and heroic pitching efforts are twomust-have elements for any team looking to make a title run in October. In their 5-0 start to this postseason, the Dodgers have put both aspects on display. And now, following Sunday’s magical win, Los Angeles is believing that the Commissioner’s Trophy could be coming to the southland for the first time in 29 years. The Dodgers’ postseason slogan in 2017 has been “This Team.” The slogan is appropriate, as it appears that this team could be the one to finally solve the championship puzzle for the Dodgers. It appeared so during the regular season, but through five games of postseason play, the Dodgers have confirmed that they have the championship attributes necessary to win a World Series title. “What’s different about this team?” Jansen said. “We all care about each other. It’s not about that one guy or this … every night it’s been someone [different] stepping up for us.”Jansen’s sentiments about this Dodgerg team ring true. It’s been a different hero every night for Los Angeles all season long. The Dodgers have had 10 walk-off wins in 2017, coming from nine different players. The Dodgers’ collective efforts have brought them to the gates of baseball’s promised land. Two wins from a World Series berth and six wins away from ending a nearly three-decade title drought. This team will look to make another advance toward the Fall Classic Tuesday night in Chicago for Game 3. The Dodgers now leave the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine for those of Wrigley Field. Behind Yu Darvish, Los Angeles will look to take a stranglehold on this series and return home by the end of the week with the franchise’s first National League pennant since 1988. This team. This team is the one with all the potential to return World Series prosperity to the Dodger faithful. Angel Viscarra is a junior studying broadcast and digital journalism. His column, Viscarra’s Vice, runs Tuesdays.last_img read more