Rich Hill showed why the Dodger front office traded for him, Cory Seager showed why he’s the best rookie in baseball, Yazmani Grandal showed why fans shouldn’t worry about a slump in the postseason, Joe Blanton showed why one pitch won’t define his 2016 season, Yasiel Puig showed why you shouldn’t count him out, and even Josh Reddick managed to accomplish something productive tonight.
Rich Hill was asked to pitch effectively tonight, instead, he threw six shutout innings and far surpassed my expectations. In a game that was expected to be close, he made sure that one run would be all that the Dodgers would need. Inexplicably the Dodgers have shutout out a team in back to back games that had only been shutout six times in 167 games prior.
In so doing, Kershaw/Jansen and Hill/Blanton/Grant/Jansen pitched the first back to back shutouts in LAD postseason history. It is a lot better being on the right side of back to back shutouts compared to how the 1966 World Series ended when the Dodgers were blanked 1-0 in games 3 and 4.
For the first three innings, it looked eerily like the first game Rich Hill pitched against the Nationals. The first went smoothly, the second less so, and Hill needed to get the number eight hitter out with people on base, and looking a bit out of sorts. He ended the 2nd with 40 pitches and didn’t look like someone who was going to go five or six innings. The 3rd went smoothly just like the first game so I was a bit worried how the 4th was going to go. But this was a different night and a different script. Hill breezed through the 4th, 5th, and 6th and by the time he handed the reins over to Joe Blanton he had done his job.
Cory Seager got the scoring going by driving in Mr. Toles with his first 2016 postseason hit after the 1st innings. In what should have been a close play for many, Toles blew by home plate after Seager he hit a line drive single to RF.
A 1 – 0 lead looked precarious so Josh Reddick took manners into his own hand. Josh slammed a bouncer off of Jake’s glove for an infield single. He then stole 2nd and 3rd. Yaz Grandal was up with two outs and worked the count full. At best fans were probably expecting a walk as it had been a long time since Yaz had connected solidly but Arrieta got the ball in his sweet spot and Yaz drove it out for a two-run home run. Grandal hadn’t had an extra-base hit since Sept 22nd and was two for twenty-five before his blast.
With the score 3 – 0, Justin Turner led off the bottom of the 6th with a solo home run to make it 4 – 0 and drive Arrieta from the game just as he drove Max Scherzer out in game one of the NLDS.
Joe Blanton took over for Hill in the 7th and retired the Cubs in order looking like the Blanton who was the glue of the bullpen all year long.
In the bottom of the 8th, Puig got his 2nd hit of the game. His first hit came on an infield hit and was his first hit 17 postseason plate appearances.
Yasiel Puig went 10 games and 17 plate appearances between postseason hits. His last? A triple against John Lackey on Oct. 6, 2014.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) October 19, 2016
With Puig on 1st, Joc Pederson was facing a lefty and usually, that results in Joc walking back to the dugout. Not tonight, on a 2 – 2 pitch with Puig on the run, Joc drove a shot into the corner scoring the Wild Horse all the way from 1st base. Joc stole 3rd base and scored on a ground ball by Grandal making the score 6 – 0 and giving Grandal three runs batted in for the night.
And Kenley Jansen got a four-out save.
Once again, this was a full team effort, and once again these Dodgers are defying the odds.
One last note, with that home run by Justin Turner he has now reached base in thirteen straight postseason games. That is the longest LAD streak tying him with Steve Garvey from 1974 – 1977.
Carl Furillo holds the all-time Dodger mark at fourteen games (1953-1956), and Pee Wee Reese had a thirteen game streak (1953-1955).
The Dodgers have also homered in every single postseason game this year.