LOS ANGELES, CA-The champagne popping in the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse is over right about now. The celebration has been tempered briefly. One day after winning their fifth straight National League West Division title, the Dodgers were reminded that some cleanup duty has to be done in order for the team to make a serious run at a possible 22nd World Series championship.
Baser running miscues like the one committed by outfielder Yasiel Puig with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with runners at first and third base won’t help the Dodgers advance deep in the playoffs. In the second game of a home series against their arch rivals-the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers, after their bats went anemic against Madison Bumgarner for most of the night, made some offensive noise in the ninth inning to scratch themselves back in the game.
With the Dodgers down 2-0, Austin Barnes cracked a solo home run off Bumgarner to slice the Giants lead in half. The Dodgers had momentum on their side. Later in the inning, the Dodgers found themselves in position to win with runners on opposite bases.
That went for naught as Puig took off for second base with the game-tying run at third base. Without sliding into second base, Puig was called out. End of inning. End of ballgame. Puig’s action at the end of the game didn’t earn him any brownie points with manager Dave Roberts.
“It’s hard to explain,” Roberts said in a postgame press conference.
Besides Puig’s blunder, perhaps a bigger issue for Roberts is the concern about the health of Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was forced to leave the game after he was drilled in the forearm by a line drive. The Dodgers are not as deep as they were in the pitching department last season, so not having Ryu around in the postseason or event at full strength, would hamper the team’s ability to go deep in the playoffs.
The initial reports coming back from the injury give Roberts a chance to breath a sigh of relief.
“The x-rays are negative, so that’s a good thing,” Roberts said. “I thought he was throwing the ball well, really hopeful for him this outing, so it’s a good thing that the x-rays were negative and we’ll see tomorrow how well he responds to treatment.”
Ryu, who pitched a little over two innings before he left the game n the 2-1 loss, believes he can come back.
The good news is that the Dodgers are sitting on top of the National League West Division again. This time around they’re hoping that their division crown will turn into something more than a shortened playoff run as have been they’re experience in the past four seasons.the pitching department
This year might be different, though. This season has even felt different than years past. But for the conclusion to come out opposite of the last four years, the Dodgers will have finish what they started. For the last five years, the Dodgers have rode their fortunes into the postseason on good pitching, solid base running, timely hitting and solid bench play.
In 2017, the base of the Dodgers’ success in the past has been pitching lights out. Left-handed ace Clayton Kershaw is chiefly responsible for that, although this season has been somewhat a down year for the heat-thrower. At the beginning of this season, the Dodgers was looking at almost a complete do-over in the form of what was going to be the fuel to drive their car into the postseason.
Winning five National League Division titles in a row like the Los Angeles Dodgers have done is playing otherworldly baseball. But winning the team’s 22nd National League pennant and seventh World Series would be an even more impressive feat for the Boys in Blue.
The question now becomes can the Dodgers close the deal on a runaway division lead and one of the top marks in all of Major League Baseball? A day after the Dodgers clinched their fifth straight division championship against the San Francisco Giants, manager Dave Roberts gave his starting lineup a break and inserted role players into the starting lineup to get some work in .
It looks like Puig could use a little more work with some baserunning drills.