Friday, April 16, 2021

Series Thread (Games 14-16): April 16-18 @ Padres

"Yes, if the leak in the dike was about six feet high, I'd plug it like this."

Fri 4/16 7p: Walker Buehler vs. Carl Weathers
Sat 4/17 5.30p: Clayton Kershaw vs. Yu Darvish
Sun 4/18 1p: Trevor Bauer vs. Blake Snell

The hype machine has hit new levels, as ESPN is calling this MLB's hottest new rivalry. Sure, last year's sweep of San Diego in the 2020 NLDS was emotional. But let's keep this in perspective: San Diego is 2.5 GB; and Fernando Tatis Jr. is still recovring from a shoulder injury (he may be reactivated for this series). This April series might lack the fireworks that last year's playoff series had.

On top of this, Dodger pitcher Trevor Bauer completely admits that former Dodger and sometimes-motivated Manny Machado "has his number" (.588 / .667 / 1.412 in 21 plate appearances). The three ESPN pundits say the Dodgers--red-hot off a 6-0 homestand--win this series. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Series Thread (Games 11-13): April 13-15 vs. Rockies

Tues 4.13 7p: Trevor Bauer (1-0, 4.15) vs. Antonio Senzatela (1-1, 5.56)
Wed 4.14 7p: Dustin May (1-0. 0.00) vs. Jon Gray (1-0, 1.54)
Thu 4.15 7p JACKIE ROBINSON DAY: Julio Urias (2-0, 2.84) vs. Austin Gomber (0-2, 2.89)

The Dodgers' first homestand of 2021 has gone pretty well, halfway through the games. Following a tight 1-0 win fueled by a majestic ring ceremony, the Dodgers romped through Saturday's game 9-5, and then watched Clayton Kershaw (6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 Ks) outduel Max Scherzer (also 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 Ks) for a 3-0 Sunday victory. So that's a sweep of the pesky (g)Nats!.

But all of those victories have our 8-2 Dodgers only a half-game ahead of the Padres, who boast a 8-3 record (second best in the majors; they got their first franchise no-hitter over this weekend, and won yesterday against the Pirates while we were idle). While San Diego feasts on the woeful Pirates, we get the Rockies for three at home, starting with the scrutinized Trevor Bauer, the rested Dustin May, and the lights-out Julio Urias. We've gotta keep the pressure on here, boys!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Archiving the 2020 SoSG Attendance Record, For Posterity

The 2020 SoSG attendance record was a lot easier to compile.

SoSG 2020 record: 0-0

Prior SoSG attendance records: 2008 (18-15), 2009 (21-10), 2010 (9-8), 2011 (10-7), 2012 (24-18), 2013 (24-16), 2014 (22-12), 2015 (27-13), 2016 (10-5), 2017 (27-13) 2018 (12-9), 2019 (12-5).

Archiving the 2019 SoSG Attendance Record, For Posterity

After procrastinating on this for almost 18 months, I suppose it's about time for me to archive the 2019 SoSG attendance record, for posterity.

I have a feeling that we attended 2019 games after August, including the playoffs--but I am pretty sure that I didn't get to the 2019 playoffs (a loss in the NLDS vs. Washington).

SoSG 2019 Record: 10-5
3/28 vs AZ (W, 12-5): Dusty, Sax
3/30 vs AZ (W, 18-5): Dusty
4/13 vs MIL (L, 1-4): Dusty, Sax
4/15 vs CIN (W, 4-3): Sax
5/6 vs ATL (W, 5-3): Orel, Sax
5/8 vs ATL (W, 9-4): Sax
5/10 vs WAS (L, 2-5): Sax
5/27 vs NYM (W, 9-5): Sax
5/28 vs NYM (L, 3-7): Sax
6/13 vs CHC (W, 7-3): Sax
6/15 vs CHC (L, 1-2): Stubbs
6/20 vs SFG (W, 9-8): Sax
8/4 vs SD (W, 11-10): Orel, Sax
8/24 vs. NYY (W, 2-1): Dusty, Sax
8/25 vs. NYY (L, 1-5): Sax

Prior SoSG attendance records: 2008 (18-15), 2009 (21-10), 2010 (9-8), 2011 (10-7), 2012 (24-18), 2013 (24-16), 2014 (22-12), 2015 (27-13), 2016 (10-5), 2017 (27-13) 2018 (12-9).

Sights from 2021 Opening Day @ Dodger Stadium (April 9, 2021)

Sax wasn't able to make it to Opening Day ceremonies @ Dodger Stadium this year, but I did get some great shots from the seats thanks to a trusty stringer in the family. Enjoy!

JT at the plate:

Muncy at the plate:

The new scoreboards wre "very difficult to read"--perhaps more difficult in the daylight?

Here's the new 2020 World Championship flag (no room for the California state flag now!):

Thanks, trusty stringer!

Friday, April 09, 2021

Series Thread (Games 8-10): April 9-11 vs. Nationals

Fri 4/9 1p: Walker Buehler vs. J Ross
Sat 4/10 6p: Julio Urias vs. TBD
Sun 4/11 1p: TBD vs. TBD

Happy Home Opening Day! Your World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers make their first appearance at Dodger Stadium with crowds since the 2019 season, which ended with a difficult playoff series loss to...the Nationals. This time, the Nationals come to town with a depleted lineup, having been racked by a COVID-19 outbreak in their ranks that has sidelined starting pitchers Patrick Corbin and Jon Lester, catchers Yan Gomes and Alex Avila, first baseman Josh Bell, infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, left fielder Kyle Schwarber, and reliever Brad Hand: all of whom are on the injured list with unspecified injuries.

So it's totally understandable that we've got, at time of writing this Game Thread on Thursday morning, two of this weekend's starters as TBD. Heck, the Nationals might be holding tryouts in the parking lot before the game (right next to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution center; might not be such a bad idea!).

For those of you going to the Stadium on Friday--and, cross your fingers, at least one SoSG family member should be in attendance!--be careful around all those parking cones! The Stadium might be at 25% capacity, but the parking is (as always) still going to be nuts!

GO DODGERS!

Monday, April 05, 2021

Series Thread (Games 5-7): April 5-7 @ Athletics

Monday 4/5 6.30p: Dustin May vs. Frankie Montas
Tuesday 4/6 6.30p: Clayton Kershaw vs. Chris Bassitt
Wednesday 4/7 12.30p: Trevor Bauer vs. Jesús Luzardo

Four games into the season, and we're already neck and neck with the Padres, a theme we'll probably hear all season long. And while San Diego gets to feast on a 1-2 Giants team for their next series, we get our 1988 World Series opponent A's (who are 0-4 this season, having been swept by the Astros). Boy, the Bay Area is off to a poor start this year.

Dustin May gets his first start of the year, having earned the spot over Tony Gonsolin and David Price (the latter of whom looked awful in a relief appearance against Colorado). I'm sure Kershaw will be itching to get back in the win column after his frustrating Opening Day loss.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

2021 Opening Series Thread: April 1-4 @ Rockies

Thurs 4/1 1p: Clayton Kershaw vs. Germán Márquez
Fri 4/2 5.30p: Trevor Bauer vs. Antonio Senzatela
Sat 4/3 5p: Walker Buehler vs. Jon Gray
Sun 4/4 12n: Julio Urias vs. Austin Gomber

This is the first Game Thread for your WORLD CHAMPION LOS ANGELES DODGERS! And yes, even though many of the players who got us here last year have returned (most notably, Justin Turner at third base), some have departed (Kiké Hernandez, whose jersey outsells Mike Trout's!; Joc Pederson; and Pedro Baez, among others). And then there's that Bauer guy that we picked up and have slotted him in at the #2 spot in this season-starting rotation.

And this re-stocked team has some pundits predicting the Dodgers will win 118 games this season, en route to a World Series.. Which will never happen, mind you, even if it may be fun to speculate. No, the Dodgers will face more difficult opposition this year from a investment-happy Padres team (adding Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, and locking up Fernando Tatis Jr. for 300 years); a bitter and hungry Braves team who narrowly lost the 2020 NLCS; and a new entrant Mets team who just plunked down $341M for 10 years of Francisco Lindor..

And then there's the whole American League, by the way--even if this year's wackball schedule doesn't have us playing anyone beyond the AL West during the regular season.

Me, I'd love to see the 2021 season be incredible again for the Dodgers, so we can put an end to the 156-day drought since our last World Championship. I won't be there for Opening Day this year, but I know I'll be gunning for the Dodgers for all 162 regular season games this year.

And this time: as reigning World Champions!

GO DODGERS!

Monday, November 23, 2020

32 Years of Waiting & 14 Years of SoSG

1988: birth year of Clayton Kershaw and Ghosts of a Championship Past.

When the Dodgers won the World Series in 1988, I was but a boy with hopes and dreams. 32 years later, that boy is older and heavier, his hopes and dreams having become wishes and adjusted expectations.

32 years is enough time to get an education and a job and realize how different they are from experience and a career. It's enough time to start a family, who will learn to tolerate your irrational Dodgers fandom.

Is it the Cubs' 108 years? Of course not. Is it still a fucking long time? Yes it is.

It's also enough time to figure out winning the World Series takes talent, discipline...and some je ne sais quoi.

Talent: The Dodgers were always rich enough to afford it (and sometimes stupid enough to give it away).

Discipline: Levels of hard work and common sense seemed to vary with the revolving door of managers that followed Tommy Lasorda's 20-year tenure, as well as the whims of whoever was keeping the GM chair warm (Kevin Malone? DePo?).

Intangibles: We never seemed to possess the inevitability of the Yankees, the devil magic of the Cardinals and Giants, the scrappiness (later entitlement) of the Red Sox. We endured 31 years of postseason drought and disappointment, never even getting within a victory of reaching the World Series. The Astros' cheating scandal of 2017 and the Red Sox cheating in 2018 were just the cherries on top of the cowpie.

So what changed? It was as slow as turning a battleship, but here's the summary:

    1. Fuck off, Fox.
    2. Go to hell, Frank & Jamie.
    3. Hello, Guggenbros and Andrew Friedman (assist: Ned Colletti).

The result? A steady stream of talent (not just the occasional Manny Ramirez-esque splurge) resulting in 8 straight division titles. An organizational philosophy of discipline. Remember how frustrating the swing-for-the-fences approach was just a few years ago? Then this year, cavernous Globe Life Field became our "home" park and talk started about how the Dodgers' homer-happy approach could fall flat there.

Instead the Dodgers made adjustments and nailed the balance of situational hitting and bashing dingers. Discipline! Lots of credit to hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc for that.

And the intangibles! Finally luck was a lady, the cookie didn't crumble, the ball bounced our way:

NLDS Game 1. 5th inning: Padres 1, Dodgers 0. Dodger-killer Jake Cronenworth makes a throwing error, allowing us to tie the score. We score 4 runs the next inning.

NLDS Game 2. 7th inning: Dodgers 4, Padres 3. Cody's catch! It sets the stage for a one-run squeaker of a victory (thanks Kenley):

I thought we were toast after going down 3-1 to the Barves in the NLCS. Indeed we were losing in the 6th inning of Game 7, but there was a crucial momentum shift two innings earlier:

NLCS Game 7. 4th inning: Barves 3, Dodgers 2. The inexplicable Barves double brain-fart:

What if Swanson pulls a Pierzynski and touches home after JT's tag? Maybe a replay situation. What if Riley doesn't double back like ZZ Top in Back to the Future III? Maybe he's safe at third. More maybes than in an Arrested Development marathon!

NLCS Games 5-7. One word: Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooookie.

And the coup de grâce:

World Series Game 5. 4th inning: Dodgers 3, Rays 2. Manuel Margot decides he's the man:

Silly rabbit, Kershaw's the man.

(And for anyone questioning the legitmacy of a COVID-shortened season: The two best teams met after a regular season that was mentally and emotionally more taxing than a 162-game season, plus every playoff team had to play an extra round. Take your asterisks back to 2017 where they belong.)

32 years is a generation! Thanks to the Guggenbros for investing the scratch, to Friedman for his roster wizardry and to Doc for keeping the egos in check. Best of all, their sustainable approach means we should be competitive for the forseeable future.

And when we win the World Series again, I still won't be done celebrating this one.

The nadir of the Dodgers' 31 years of postseason futility came in the 2006 NLDS against the Mets. Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew were thrown out at home on the same play — by an all-former-Dodgers relay of Shawn Green to José Valentín to Paul "Fuck the Dodgers" Lo Duca. Naturally the Dodgers went on to lose that game by 1 run and get swept out of the series.

The collective outrage from group e-mails within our circle of Dodger fans must have been overheating our Intel Celeron microprocessors because days later, we decided to take our talents to Blogger. The Dodgers' streak of futility was at a mere 18 years — what babies we were! — when Sax made our first post.

It was three years B.T. (Before Twitter) and we were getting started during the golden age of sports blogging. It was thrilling to see the blog gain readership and recognition by the Dodgers organization itself (shoutout to Josh Rawitch!).

A glance at the sidebar shows our "attendance" at over 3.5 million views, which still blows my mind. A big hug to my friends and fellow Sons — the rest of the O.G. 6 — AC, EK, Lasorda, Pedro & Sax — and the "newcomers" — Delino, Dusty, Gnomes & Stubbs (and honorary DoSG Karina!).

But 14 years of blogging? Also a long time. At times it's felt like a crying baby that needs to be fed (damn GTs!). And the 31 years of falling short didn't help.

Now that we've arrived at the promised land...I don't know? In this fucked-up year, Vin Scully's truism holds even more true: "If you want to make God smile, tell him your plans."

Go Blue!

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Rob Manfred Doesn't Punish Cheaters, So There Was No Way He Was Going To Punish Justin Turner

We Sons of Steve Garvey have had lengthy WhatsApp chats about Justin Turner's post-Game 6 emergence onto the field following the Dodgers' World Series victory. And in a nutshell, though all of us love the guy and respect his leadership and understand his frame of mind and decision-making in the moment,...we all also think it was a pretty selfish move to endanger others' health and safety just so he could take his picture with "a piece of metal".

Oh, sure, it's been established that Turner believes that the World Series is more than a piece of metal.. And he's worked tirelessly for this achievement. And he's earned all of it, including the right to be part of the team picture celebrating victory and whole experience.

Which is why it would have been so much more meaningful and better if Turner had stayed in isolation, and had not come out of the not-quite-secure room in which he had been isolated after the eighth inning of the game. This would been the noble, albeit heartbreaking, move to make.

But Turner came out of the dugout, and despite the positive COVID-19 test result, opted to take maskless pictures with the team (in which he easily could have been photoshopped in post-production). Not a good luck for this team leader. Initially, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was not happy.

Two weeks later, MLB completed its "investigation." And, consistent with his weak-ass disciplinarian reputation, Manfred is satisfied about Turner's apology, and won't punish Turner further.

MLB is damn lucky that no one was hurt or infected by Turner's brainfart. But more striking is that Manfred, who won't exact any punishment upon a team who cheated their way to an illicit and illegitimate "championship," once again doesn't have the balls to mete out punishment. All hat, no cattle.

Not that I wanted Turner to be punished. I was conflicted on this one, too, but mostly because I've seen Turner contribute over these past five seasons like a professional and a community leader. But I'm sure that if you weren't keeping track of the Dodgers during the last five years, and the World Series was your only glimpse of him, you might be pretty angry at his selfishness. Heck, I love the guy, and I still think it was the wrong move.

But irrespective, it's clear you can get away with murder and Manfred ain't gonna do shit. So now that this is firmly established, go trade in your masks for trash cans!

Meanwhile, Turner at least had the sense to apologize (which Bill Shaikin of the LAT noted that Manfred neglected to do, in his own statement). I was surprised that Turner didn't apologize earlier--I can only assume he stayed quiet due to MLB muzzling over potential liability issues--but it was not surprising that in his public statement, Turner expressed authentic contrition:

I will not make excuses for my conduct, but I will describe my state of mind. Winning the World Series was my lifelong dream and the culmination of everything I worked for in my career. After waiting in the isolation room while my teammates celebrated on the field, I asked whether I was permitted to return to the field with my wife in order to take a photograph. I assumed by that point that few people were left on the field. I was under the impression that team officials did not object to my returning to the field for a picture with my wife. However, what was intended to be a photo capturing the two of us turned into several greetings and photos where I briefly and unwisely removed my mask. In hindsight, I should have waited until the field was clear of others to take that photo with my wife. I sincerely apologize to everyone on the field for failing to appreciate the risks of returning to the field. I have spoken with almost every teammate, coach, and staff member, and my intentions were never to make anyone uncomfortable or put anyone at further risk.

All right, so we can all move on now. Turner stepped up after a bad move. Manfred again showed any hammer he might wield is a limp noodle. Let's get to the offseason.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Hey Mookie, How's Your Off-Season Going?

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Kirk Gibson Narrates: The Dodgers Are Finally Champions Again

World Series Game 7 Thread HAHA JUST KIDDING WE'RE WORLD SERIES CHAMPS BABY!

Mookie: Robert Gauthier/LA Times; Kershaw: I don't know

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

THE DODGERS ARE 2020 WORLD SERIES CHAMPS

World Series Game 6 Thread: Oct 27 vs Rays, 5p

Can we get this man a goddamn championship ring already?

Gonsolin vs Snell.

OK OK OK OK OK OK while it's true that existence is pain, sometimes there's a frisson of hope on the other side of that pain. After being repeatedly punched in the mouth in Game 4, Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers squared their jaws and grinded out a victory in Game 5 and suddenly the Dodgers are 27 outs away from their first World Series championship in 32 years.

Anyone else worried about CT3 and Will Smith? They've been uncharacteristically unreliable lately. On the flip side, Catman Gonsolin will be fully rested, Corey, Max and JT have been great and Mookie's due for his signature World Series moment. Props also to Joc, although he likely won't start today's game.

On the bullpen side: Say no to Kenley and Baez. Say yes to anyone else.

The Boys in Blue have two games to win one. GO BLUE!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Post-World Series Game 5 Thread: Bent, But Not Broken

The baseball gods have frowned upon the Dodgers for a long time. Kershaw knows it.

DODGERS 4, RAYS 2

This one, just like last night's Game 4 debacle, could have gone either way.

There were plenty of situations in this game where the momentum narratives could have crystallized. The Dodgers, after an inexplicable failure in Game 4, could come out flat. Clayton Kershaw would buckle in his second series start. Doc Roberts would make more foolish pitching change decisions. Dustin May isn't up to the big stage. Chris Taylor can't repair the hole in his glove's webbing (actually, this narrative unfortunately continued in Game 5, as he failed to catch an Austin Barnes throw to second, allowing an extra base). If Kenley Jansen can't close, no one else can, either.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, all (but one) of those narratives were rendered obsolete. But it wasn't easy, it was a gutty tightrope performance in which the final run scored in the top of the fifth (Max Muncy's moon shot), and it was edge-of-your-seat baseball from there on. Before moving on, here's Muncy's home run, another Muncy home run for the ages:

Just like this Muncy World Series home run highlight:

Or this Muncy home run highlight:

Okay I gotta calm down here. Kershaw was great--not as good as some of his other 2020 playoff starts, but 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB and 6 Ks was good enough for the Dodgers and also good enough to take first place in all-time postseason strikeouts, an impressive feat. Kershaw's 2.93 ERA over 30.2 IP in the 2020 postseason amassed 37 Ks--a heck of an improvement over the 4.42 ERA prior to this WS that harbors all the biases of leaving him in too long and making Kershaw do spot starts on short rest. Kershaw has the most postseason innings pitched of anyone who has not won a World Series. And in the 2020 World Series, Kershaw certainly did his part.

As did Dave Roberts, whose hook on Kershaw after two quick one-pitch outs in the sixth led many Dodger fans to go nuts. But it was the right decision, not only to go to Dustin May and restore the poor kid's confidence (May turned in a great performance, starting with a 101-mph strikeout of Tampa Bay cleanup hitter Manuel Margot, and continuing on into a scoreless seventh inning).

I was struggling with the decision to pull Kershaw then, but knew it was the right one, even at the time, with all the emotion flowing. I couldn't bear to see Kershaw make one bad pitch and lose a chance at the win. The sixth inning is widely known as Kershaw's postseason bugaboo; he has a 3.53 ERA in the first five innings, but a 7.09 ERA after that. Kershaw struggled through the third and fourth innings, until Margot made an ill-fated decision to try and steal home, and Kershaw threw to Barnes, who nabbed his ass at the plate for the third out..

Us Sons thought that Margot's brash move pissed Kershaw off, so much so that he came back in the fifth for a clean 1-2-3 inning (2 Ks), and then the two-pitch, two-out start to the sixth inning. But watching Kershaw earlier, he was really on fumes before the Margot CS. It was going to be a matter of time before the adrenaline wore off and he was just a bit more mortal again.

The Dodgers bullpen led by May, a fine clutch performance by Victor Gonzalez, and a strong ninth by Blake I'm-Not-Jansen Treinen, secured the victory for the Dodgers, as the Rays didn't score again after the third and didn't really have a threat after Margot's inning-ending CS. But the two-run lead was so precarious, you felt the pressure whenever the Rays got one on. Not to mention, the Rays bullpen did quick work on our offense and held us scoreless after Glasnow's departure: Will Smith and Chris Taylor again disappointed, this time with 0-for-4 performances each; Justin Turner had more defensive gems in Game 5, but also went 0-for-4 from the plate.

So the Dodgers take the 3-2 series lead by getting back to business, yet it still feels out of reach. Tony Gonsolin has had a poor World Series outing on top of a bad NLCS Game 7 experience. Sure, he could turn it around after Roberts' sit-down discussion with him and May (which apparently happened before Game 5). Or, strange things like Game 4 can happen, and we choke our way into a Game 7.

We haven't fared well in bullpen games. And we still aren't getting to Tampa Bay's bullpen, either. So let's see.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

World Series Game 5 Thread: Oct 25 @ Rays, 5p

Kershaw vs Glasnow.

Existence is pain.

Dave Roberts Made All The Wrong Moves In WS Game 4

The World Series Game 5 Thread is already up so I won't upset that. I just have to post this vitriol before first pitch tonight, which will obviously be another Kershaw postseason meltdown disaster--but more on that later.

World Series Game 4 was entirely winnable if Dave Roberts hadn't made all those boneheaded pitching decisions.

Julio Urias should not have come out in the fifth inning, one out short of qualifying for the win. He had 9 Ks through 14 outs, including two Ks following the Huter Renfroe HR that made it 3-2 LA. We would go on to score in the top of the sixth and extend it to a 4-2 lead, but it didn't matter becuase now we're left to our bullpen decisions.

Blake Treinen was a bad choice to relieve Urias. Treinen gets the third out in the fifth, but then comes back in the sixth to shit the bed, allowing two on with none out. After getting Austin Meadows to strikeout, Roberts inexplicably goes to the unreliable Pedro Baez, who singlehandedly breathes life into the Rays with a meatball that Brandon Lowe deposits for a go-ahead three run HR.

Again, the Dodgers bats try to dig Roberts out of his hole, wth Joc Pederson's two-out, two-RBI single that would have been a longer rally had Cody Bellinger not run us out of the inning by getting tagged at third.

Baez now should be yanked out of there with a harpoon. But Roberts inexplicably leaves Baez in for another inning--only so he can give up ANOTHER home run to Kevin Kiermaier, tying the game.

We take the lead in the eighth inning again 7-6 on a Corey Seager single to left, scoring Chris Taylor. Roberts goes to Adam Kolarek who walks Ji-Man Chio and gets two outs, and then Roberts goes to Brusdar Graterol, who escapes the inning two batters later. Graterol is in, he's dealing 100mph fireballs.

And Roberts caps it all, by bringing in Kenley Jansen to blow the game for us, plain and simple. Not that Jansen's troubles throughout this postseason alone should have made him a radioactive isotope for this situation, not to be touched with a ten-foot pole. When he gave up the walkoff Brett Phillips single to center, it was all over. We handed this 8-7 win to the Rays on a fucking platter, a platter filled with the corpulent excesses and failures of Baez and Jansen.

And Roberts filled that platter, himself.

On top of all this, Jansen didn't even back up the play after the hit to center. It may not have mattered in the final assessment. But I'm so done with this guy. All postseason, it's been about him him him. He does not talk about wanting to support the team. He wants to talk about his own confidence in himself, his own abilities. And by not even doing his secondary job of backing up the play, let alone failing at his primary job of closing the door on the Rays--it showed me what a selfish bastard Kenley Jansen really is. His postgame remarks, in which he underlined how he broke Kiermaier's bat (which was still a single), and Phillips' hit was a fluke--NO, KENLEY. YOU LOST THE GODDAMN GAME, AND LET DOWN YOUR ENTIRE TEAM.

I'm done with Kenley.

I know I posted a valentine to Roberts after the NLCS, but this one pissed me off so much. Roberts' postgame remarks second-guessing his decisions were all about feeling and gut decisions. All of these gut decisions were wrong. And they have cost us dearly.

The other Sons were talking about how this was the multiple-batters-thrown-out-at-home stupidity in our playoff series loss to the Mets. Damn skippy. Now, the Rays have all the momentum. We've given it to them. Kershaw's impending failure tonight, coupled with the redemption of Tyler Glasnow after a poor Game 1 start, will be the next nail in the 2020 Dodgers' coffin. We don't have a starter for Game 6. We're doomed.

You don't recover from gut punches like this. Clearly, Kenley Jansen isn't even trying to recover. And neither will we.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

World Series Game 4 Thread: Oct 24 @ Rays, 5p

Barnes, Injury Attorney

Urias vs. Yarbrough.

Last night, backup catcher Austin Barnes made the most of this 2020 moment. After being left off the 2019 postseason roster altogether, the light-hitting Barnes not only coaxed Walker Buehler into a dominant starting pitching performance, he also notched a crazy World Series bunt-plus-home-run statistic that had only been matched by Hector Lopez in 1961.

And last night gave a number of signs that the Dodgers' 2020 roster is up for pulling through in a true team effort. Justin Turner, whose defensive prowess in the 2020 postseason has kept us alive, but his bat has been uncommonly quiet (at .232 BA vs. a .307 regular season mark), led off the fireworks with a two-out first-inning home run. Max Muncy, who struggled all year to a subpar .192 batting average, had the two-run, two-out RBI single in the third that spelled the beginning of the end for Tampa Bay starter Charlie Morton. And then there's Barnes, a .198 batter on the season, erupting for a .350 BA and .861 OPS this postseason.

Chris Taylor and Will Smith both went 0-for-4 last night (Smith with a team-leading 4 LOB), but when the team is collectively 2-for-4 with RISP and collecting gut-punching two-out RBI hits, you can feel the offensive pressure even with those off nights.

It's a stark contrast to the Rays, who walked into these first three games with a bunch of sub-.200 hitters on the team, but have not yet opened up (short of Brandon Lowe's two-HR performance in Game 2). Lowe is still batting .154; Ji-Man Choi .143; and only one starter (Manuel Margot) is north of .300 this World Series.

But all of this is small sample size, and a 2-1 lead's advantage can disappear quickly with a loss today. Julio Urias is 4-0 this postseason (in four appearances, only one of which was a start), and is coming off an impressive and efficient three-inning performance to close NLCS Game 7. But this game could be the biggest start in his postseason career (Urias has started two postseason games to date, losing vs. the Cubs in the 2016 NLCS Game 4, and winning vs. Atlanta in this year's NCLS Game 3).

Ryan Yarbrough had 2/3 of an inning in Game 1, rescuing starter Tyler Glasnow in the fifth but yielding two RBI-hits across four batters (Bellinger pop out; Taylor RBI single; Hernandez RBI single; Barnes fly out). He probably won't last long in Tampa Bay's bullpen game tonight. But if the Rays can scratch and claw their way to victory and even the series, I sure as heck will be worried again.

Actually, I'm pretty worried now.

Walker Buehler, Postseason Stud

As if I could get any more hyped for last night's World Series Game 3 start by Walker Buehler, the LAT's Jack Harris had an excellent piece yesterday which focused on how failure (both in college at Vanderbilt, and professionally with the Dodgers), and how it made him a calmer and more zen pitcher:

Yet, as this postseason has progressed, with Buehler improving every start, the 26-year-old has referred back to those painful memories: the grand slam he gave up in Game 3 of the 2018 NLDS in Atlanta; his stumbles during three straight NCAA tournament runs at Vanderbilt; the highs and lows of skins games that felt far more important than routine practice drills.

Each low point was a prerequisite to his career’s current heights, dark days that better equipped him for a bright future.

“I failed in those moments,” Buehler said. “I can handle that failure. I’ve been through it and I’ve been good after it. That failure doesn’t really scare me anymore. Obviously, you don’t want to fail. But there’s a different feeling when you’re not scared of that failure.”

Buehler wasn't scared of failure last night, nor was he scared of starting in a pivotal game which the Dodgers needed to win both to restore momentum and get their confidence back after a close 6-4 loss on Wednesday. With Charlie Morton and his impressive, cheating-enhanced postseason resume on the opponent's hill. Buehler not only out-dueled and out-lasted the salty Morton. Buehler also notched 10Ks in only six innings, he became the first World Series pitcher to have 10 strikeouts in six innings or fewer.

Eight of those ten strikeouts were swinging, so though Austin Barnes' framing skills might have helped a little, most of it was just flummoxing Tampa Bay, plain and simple, swing and miss. And watching Buehler carve up the Rays in the opening frames (with two Ks per inning through the first three innings), it certinly did a lot to calm the nerves of the Dodgers (who by then had taken a 4-0 lead off a Justin Turner home run, a two-RBI Max Muncy single, and a Barnes suicide squeeze). Not to mention my nerves, but that's another story.

Look at some of the nastiness unveiled in Buehler's arsenal yesterday:

And through this, it's helpful to remember back to the early 2010s, when Clayton Kershaw was paired with Tiny Head Zack Greinke, and everyone thought that one-two punch would take us to World Series championships. It never even got us to the World Series. And here we are, with Walker Buehler's emergence, and Kershaw finally has another stallion in the stable who can effectively help shoulder the postseason load.

Dodgers take a 2-1 lead on the back of their other postseason stud, Walker Buehler.