HOUSTON -- The Dodgers won a Major League-best 104 games before tearing through the D-backs and Cubs in the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series, losing just one game. So no, they are not hitting the panic button as they enter Game 4 of the World Series on
HOUSTON -- The Dodgers won a Major League-best 104 games before tearing through the D-backs and Cubs in the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series, losing just one game. So no, they are not hitting the panic button as they enter Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday with a 2-1 deficit against the Astros following a 5-3 loss in Game 3 on Friday. Here are five reasons why:
1. Recent World Series history
The team looking at a 2-1 deficit has thrown a parade in three of the past four years. Just look at the evidence.
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In 2013, the Red Sox lost Game 3 on the road, just as these Dodgers did -- and rallied to beat the Cardinals in six. In 2014, the Giants lost at home in Game 3 against the Royals -- but Madison Bumgarner led San Francisco to the World Series title. Just last year, the Cubs lost Game 3 when the Fall Classic finally returned to Wrigley, but we know how that all turned out.
In all best-of-seven series, teams behind 2-1 have won 40 of 134 times. This marks the 11th time that the Dodgers have trailed 2-1 in the Fall Classic. Other instances were in 1916, '41, '47, '49, '53, '55, '65, '74, '77 and '81. Of the previous 10 times, the Dodgers won the World Series three times ('55, '65, '81).
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"You look at a season, there's a lot of stressful situations or where your back's against the wall, where you have to bow your neck and fight," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "And that's just who we are. For me to expect anything less from our guys, it's not going to happen."
2. Clayton Kershaw
The best pitcher in baseball is the Dodgers' probable starter Sunday in Game 5. He struck out 11 and held Houston to one run on three hits in a Game 1 win. In his previous start, he led the Dodgers to the NL pennant by allowing the Cubs just one run on three hits in Game 5 of the NLCS.
So no matter what happens in Game 4, the Astros have to go through Kershaw again. In the aforementioned 2014 example, Bumgarner's presence was the key. At the risk of invoking a rival, Dodger fans certainly think of their ace in at least similar terms now.
3. The bullpen is back
After the Game 2 aberration, it was more like normal for Los Angeles relievers in the Game 3 loss. Four of the five Houston runs came in the second inning off Yu Darvish, and the Astros managed just one unearned run off five relievers. Kenta Maeda set the tone with 2 2/3 scoreless innings behind Darvish.
4. Dodger Stadium
If Los Angeles wins at least one of the next two games, the Series goes back to Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers earned that right by posting the best record during the regular season. They won an MLB-best 57 games at home and have just one home loss this poseason.
5. Cody Bellinger
Yes, he struck out four times in Game 3. Yes, he is off to an 0-for-11 World Series start. But the team's 22-year-old first baseman does not seem terribly worried. Someone asked him if fans should panic, and Bellinger replied: "I don't think so. If they do, I understand. But they've seen me get out of slumps before, so we'll see how it goes.
"I would say I was seeing it well until my last two at-bats today. That's baseball. I've felt worse at the plate and I'm not too worried about it. Hopefully I can get out of it soon."
In 2017, Bellinger established an NL rookie home run record (third all-time) with 39, while also ranking among all-time Dodger rookies in RBIs (97, third) in 132 games.
"He got pitched really tough tonight," Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager said of Bellinger. "That's a tough matchup. He expanded [the zone] a little bit, but that's what happens. Nothing to really worry about. We know he's going to come back ready [in Game 4]."
As even Evan Gattis of the Astros said, "There's a lot of baseball to go."
The Dodgers are a long way from panic mode, and they get a chance to knot the Series on Saturday.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him on Twitter @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub.