Confidence high in clubhouse; Cardinals of 2012 squandered 3-1 NLCS lead
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' goal of winning the World Series is still attainable, even if history suggests the chances are slim.
With Wednesday's 6-4 victory over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers became only the 13th team since 1985, when the LCS shifted to a best-of-seven format, to win Game 5 at home to force Game 6 on the road after falling behind, 3-1, in a LCS.
Only three of those 13 teams advanced to the World Series, but each of those clubs also went on to win the Fall Classic. In 2004, the Red Sox stormed back from a 3-0 ALCS hole to beat the Yankees. The year before, the Marlins overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cubs. The Royals did the same against the Blue Jays in 1985.
It can be done.
"It's do or die," second baseman Mark Ellis said after Game 5. "We don't want to go home. We want to keep playing. We feel like we have a good thing going on here. We want it. We want it bad."
With all the Dodgers have been through during their roller-coaster season, closer Kenley Jansen said the club is not afraid of its latest obstacle.
"Just think about it -- we were the worst team in the Major Leagues in June," Jansen said. "This team is not scared. We never quit."
But Jansen understands Los Angeles can't look too far ahead.
"We just have to worry about Game 6 and win that one first," Jansen said.
Returning to the road
Teams down 3-1 in a League Championship Series to win Game 5 at home and force a Game 6 on the road
Game 5 result
Dodgers 6, Cardinals 4
Tigers 7, Rangers 5
Rangers in 6
Yankees 7, Rangers 2
Rangers in 6
Angels 7, Yankees 6
Yankees in 6
Red Sox 8, Rays 7
Rays in 7
Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (14)
Red Sox in 7
Marlins 4, Cubs 0
Marlins in 7
Mariners 6, Yankees 2
Yankees in 6
Mets 4, Braves 3 (15)
Braves in 6
A's 6, Blue Jays 2
Blue Jays in 6
Pirates 7, Braves 1
Braves in 7
Pirates 3, Reds 2
Reds in 6
Royals 2, Blue Jays 0
Royals in 7
Since 1985, when LCS switched to a best-of-seven series
Of course, the Dodgers like their chances in Game 6 -- airing at 5:30 p.m. PT on TBS -- with NL Cy Young front-runner Clayton Kershaw starting.
"You always feel good with Kersh on the mound," Mark Ellis said. "He's the best pitcher in the National League."
Manager Don Mattingly believes the whole country will be pulling for the Dodgers to make history.
"I think if you look at it now, we've kind of become America's team because everyone wants to see a seventh game," Mattingly said. "Probably even the fans in St. Louis would like to see a seventh game, so I figure that everybody's for us to win on Friday night."
The Dallas Cowboys may be America's team when it comes to the National Football League, and catcher A.J. Ellis wants the Dodgers to adopt a football mentality for the rest of the NLCS.
"We need to think about it like it's a one-game Super Bowl every game we play from here on out," Ellis said. "That's the push we need to have to go in there and win Game 6."
Right-handed reliever Brian Wilson is certainly confident in his new club.
"I wouldn't count out this team," said Wilson, the former Giants closer who signed with the Dodgers in July and has since thrived in a setup role. "They went 42-8 at one point, and that's a ridiculous run."
The Cardinals have twice in their history held a 3-1 NLCS lead. On both occasions (last season vs. the Giants and in 1996 vs. the Braves), they missed a chance to advance to the World Series.
Wilson was recovering from Tommy John surgery last October when San Francisco rallied to beat St. Louis, but the right-hander traveled with the club and witnessed the turnaround. He feels a similar momentum building for the Dodgers.
"Absolutely, because there's no panic on our part," Wilson said. "We're not the ones up in the series right now. There can be a little bit of panic setting in. I can't speak for the other team; I can only assume. This is a particular situation that [the Cardinals] were in last year."
So far, the Dodgers have the risen to the occasion with their backs against the wall. L.A. overcame a 9 1/2-game deficit to win the NL West and didn't budge on Wednesday in the face of elimination.
"I think that's something that the human race thrives on: giving yourself a reason and putting more emphasis into a particular situation in order to come out on top," Wilson said. "That's exactly what's happening here."