LOS ANGELES-Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts spoke on a myriad of topics during a pre-game interview before his team was to hit the field at Dodger Stadium against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. One of the questions asked centered around expectations of the ballclub and all the noise surrounding the Dodgers putting up the best record in baseball and their five-year reign on the National League West Division.
Roberts’ extended answer was simple and to the point.
“I just think speaking for the guys in the clubhouse we have more expectations for ourselves than I think that anyone could put on us,” Roberts said. “We all haven’t been here for the last five division championships, but we understand what it means to the see, this fan base. It’s a great group of guys, players. We know the opportunity we have.
“Up to this point we’ve done pretty well in putting ourselves in a situation to win it all,” Roberts added. “But right now we do a good job of not getting too far ahead of things that we really can’t control. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the World Series, but I know we have an opponent in Arizona that we’re prepared for, we know, and we’ve got to beat them in a short series. So that’s our only focus.”
The Dodgers played the way Roberts said they would in order to beat back a persistent Diamondbacks in the first of a five-game series. Starting with Justin Turner’s three-run home run blast in the bottom of the first inning to the final out, the Dodgers came out laser focused with the task at hand.
After winning 104 games during the regular season, claiming their fifth straight division crown, and falling short in their World Series quest the last couple of seasons, the Dodgers are in what some consider to be a must-win situation, especially against a team that beat them the last six times they faced off against one another.
The expectations for a team rich is superlatives and tradition is almost through the roof for a team that established new franchise records in extra base hits, doubles and home runs in a season. Adding to those expectations, is the fact that the game’s starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, had posted only a 4-7 mark on the mound in his previous 14 playoff start. For six and one third inning, it appeared that Kershaw was going to put his postseason blemishes on the pine as he cruised through one Arizona batter after another.
Kershaw struck out seven batters. He only gave up five hits. But four of those hits were solo home runs by the Diamondbacks in the Dodgers’ 9-5 victory. When a baseball team hits four home runs in a game, the odds are usually tilted in their favor in the final outcome. Not this time. Thanks to the offensive surge by the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks didn’t have that kind of luck Friday night.
The Dodgers scored nine runs off of 12 hits during the game, including seeing Turner collect three hits and drive home four runs in five at-bats.