LOS ANGELES -- After falling short with a Game 7 loss to the Astros in last year's World Series and enduring an up-and-down 2018 campaign that came down to the wire with a Game 163 win, the Dodgers are eager for another shot at winning the franchise's first title since
LOS ANGELES -- After falling short with a Game 7 loss to the Astros in last year's World Series and enduring an up-and-down 2018 campaign that came down to the wire with a Game 163 win, the Dodgers are eager for another shot at winning the franchise's first title since 1988.
Their championship quest continues Thursday at Dodger Stadium, when the Dodgers host the Braves for Game 1 of the National League Division Series. Los Angeles defeated the Rockies, 5-2, in Monday's tiebreaker to clinch the division and avoid playing in the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday.
• NLDS presented by Doosan, Game 1: Thu., 8:37 p.m. ET/5:37 p.m. PT on MLB Network
"This ain't over," Manny Machado said amid the Dodgers' postgame celebration. "This is just the beginning."
"The adversity that we went through this year, the ups and downs, being down 10 games, coming back, having the lead, losing the lead, then having to come down to a Game 163 was just an incredible road," third baseman Justin Turner said. "It's going to make us a lot better for it. We weren't given anything. We had to go out there and play and earn it all. We hit a few rough patches but we bounced right back and did what we had to do to win another title."
:: NLDS schedule and results ::
Lefties Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw will start the first two games of the best-of-five series, with Ryu taking the ball in the opener.
By virtue of finishing with a better record than the Braves (90-72), the Dodgers (92-71) have home-field advantage and will host Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, 5 at Dodger Stadium with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Atlanta's SunTrust Park. The Dodgers went 45-37 at Chavez Ravine this season, but actually performed better on the road (47-34). They tallied a plus-125 (438-313) run differential away from Los Angeles compared with a plus-69 (366-297) mark at home.
The Dodgers won the season series against the Braves, 4-2, and outscored Atlanta by a 35-18 margin.
Atlanta is expected to start right-hander Mike Foltynewicz in Game 1. It will be his first postseason appearance and his third time facing the Dodgers. He allowed seven earned runs in 11 1/3 innings (5.56 ERA) in the previous two outings.
"It's going to be a good matchup; it's going to be fun," manager Dave Roberts said. "The Braves are a young club with a couple veterans. They've got some good arms starting for them. They've had a tremendous year, they won the East, so we've got to be ready to play our best baseball."
This will be the third postseason meeting between these clubs and first since 2013 -- the beginning of Los Angeles' six-year division-title streak and Atlanta's last playoff appearance. The Dodgers defeated the Braves in four games in that NLDS before falling to the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series. They also met in the 1996 NLDS, which the Braves swept en route to the World Series.
The Dodgers enter the postseason on a hot streak, having won 14 of 18 to clinch the NL West. The Braves went 16-12 in September and had a six-game winning streak in the middle of the month, but dropped four of their last five, albeit with the division already locked up.
"They're a good team. They've got a lot of good players over there. They've got some good pitchers," said first baseman Player Page for Max Muncy. "They've got a guy who was in the MVP running with Freddie Freeman. They're not going to be easy. They're going to be really tough, and we've got to make sure we're ready to go."
The Dodgers were thankful to avoid a Monday evening flight to Chicago, and instead, have two days off before their championship quest begins.
"We don't have to jump on that plane," Turner said. "We can take our suitcases home and get ready for Thursday."
"That was our No. 1 motivator," Cody Bellinger said. "We didn't want to get on another flight and play again tomorrow. It will be nice to have two days off."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.