As I’ve already said in a previous post, game five of the NLCS was not normal. The Brewers made a pitching change after one batter and Cody Bellinger led off for the Dodgers. But there was one thing that was not a surprise: Clayton Kershaw‘s dominance. When the Dodgers needed him the most, Kershaw threw seven innings of one-run ball as he led the Dodgers to a 5-2 victory.
At first, it looked like a replay of game one. Kershaw gave up a run in the third and got into a bases-loaded jam. But this time, Kershaw refused to allow the Brewers batters to get to him. He pitched his way out of the inning and went on to retire the last 13 batters he faced.
The Brewers made an attempt to counter Kershaw’s successful pitching, but it didn’t work for them. They announced that Wade Miley would start, but they brought in Brandon Woodruff after only one batter. Woodruff ended up taking the loss, allowing three runs over 5.1 innings. Miley, the official starter for game five, will start again in game six.
In case you’re wondering, this kind of strategy actually has a name It’s called “The Opener.” It’s a new strategy that teams with sub-par starting rotations are using. The Brewers started a lefty, so the Dodgers lineup was set up to face him. But when the Brewers made the pitching change, the right-hander, Woodruff came in to face the mainly right-handed Dodger lineup.
This pitching change was supposed to neutralize the Dodger batters, but they also made some adjustments and were unphased by the strange events in game five. The first thing the Dodgers did was to bat Cody Bellinger in the leadoff spot. He went 1-3.
The second adjustment the Dodgers made was a mental one. Instead of swinging for the fences, they shortened up their swings and collected hits with runners in scoring position. This change was clearly successful. The Dodgers went 4-13 with runners in scoring position (.308 batting average) and they left only seven runners on base.
Their success began in the fifth inning with Austin Barnes facing Woodruff. The Dodgers had a man on third base when Barnes hit a breaking ball into center field for an RBI single. This tied the game at 1-1.
The Dodgers took the lead an inning later, thanks to our friend, Max Muncy. The Dodgers had runners on first and second with one out when Muncy hit a breaking ball into left field for a go-ahead RBI single.
The Dodgers continued to score, thanks to RBI singles from Yasiel Puig in the sixth and Justin Turner in the seventh, as well as an RBI groundout from Brian Dozier. In the end, Kenley Jansen was able to fend off a potential Brewers rally and the Dodgers took game five.
The Dodgers and Brewers will head to Milwaukee where the Dodgers need just one more win to go to the World Series. As I’ve already said, Miley will start for the Brewers. Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound for the Dodgers. The game will begin at 5:39pm on Friday.