Sarah's Take: Dodgers playing like champs

Los Angeles is four wins from goal of winning Fall Classic

October 20th, 2017

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League pennant on Thursday. For the first time since 1988, Dodger Stadium will host a World Series game.
The Dodgers simply dominated the Cubs, winning four of the five games played in the best-of-seven series. While the Cubs had the best record in the NL after the All-Star break, they struggled in the NLCS presented by Camping World. The Cubs couldn't launch a rally against the Dodgers' pitching staff, as most of their runs during the series came via home runs. The defense committed costly errors and allowed passed balls, giving the Dodgers many more scoring opportunities. The Cubs' starting pitchers, except , struggled with their control, and the Chicago bullpen was the Achilles' heel. Although the 2016 season was the Cubs' special year, winning the franchise's first World Series since 1908, they didn't have the same magic in 2017.
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From the beginning of Spring Training, the Dodgers have had one goal: winning a World Series championship. Los Angeles understood it must work together as a team to achieve the goal, and it was evident during the NLCS. Every night the Dodgers had a different hero.
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When the series began, the Dodgers could have been at a disadvantage. In the recent past, news that would miss the series because of a back injury would have sent the club into a tailspin, but this year, Charlie Culberson and Chris Taylor performed well at the shortstop position.
The Dodgers' incredible depth and eye for the strike zone enabled the team to go to the World Series. They didn't rely on one player, even though the co-MVPS -- and Taylor -- delivered in the clutch on offense. All of the starters performed with excellence, and the bullpen has recorded 23 straight scoreless innings. Putting into the 'pen has proven to be a brilliant move. As a starter, Maeda nibbled at the corners of the strike zone and used more offspeed pitches, but as a reliever, Maeda simply attacks the strike zone.

When the season began, Taylor wasn't on the 25-man Opening Day roster even though he had a good offensive Spring Training because the Dodgers wanted a utility player who could play the outfield. In April, the Dodgers performed under expectations, especially the offense, so they promoted both Taylor and . During the NLCS, Taylor delivered two go-ahead home runs while playing stellar defense at shortstop and center field.

Before joining his hometown team in 2014, Turner was a utility infielder with a decent batting average, but very little power. Just before signing a Minor League deal with the Dodgers, he revamped his swing. Turner has become one of the most consistent offensive producers in baseball and is a spectacular defensive third baseman. However, in the postseason, Turner has been unbelievable. He has the second highest batting average in postseason history. During the NLCS, he had a three-run walk-off homer on the 29th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's dramatic two-run homer in the 1988 World Series. Turner also had a solo home run in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Although has endured well-documented struggles during the playoffs in his distinguished career, on Thursday night against the Cubs, he was splendid for six innings. Kershaw did allow a solo home run to , but Kershaw was never in trouble since his control was near perfect.

The Cubs never threatened to rally. Ater six innings, manager Dave Roberts lifted Kershaw and finished with Maeda, and to seal the victory.
However, the night belonged to . A year ago, baseball was no longer fun for Hernandez, whose father was battling lung cancer. The Puerto Rico native, who had a disappointing 2016 season, received the opportunity to play in this year's World Baseball Classic, and it renewed his desire to play. Hernandez had a decent offensive campaign, primarily playing against lefties, while playing everywhere except catcher and pitcher in the regular season. This postseason, he has contributed to the offense while playing a stellar left field.

On Thursday, Hernandez made baseball history when he hit three home runs, including a grand slam, and drove in seven runs in Game 5 at Wrigley Field.
Although the Dodgers need four more wins to earn a World Series championship, just going to the Fall Classic for the first time in 29 years is a huge accomplishment, and the city of Los Angeles is rejoicing.