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Winning Ugly: Dodgers Are Perfecting the Concept

October 17th, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

The Dodgers defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 in 13 innings to even the National League Championship Series at two games apiece.

The game lasted 5 hours and 15 minutes.

It only seemed like it went on for 10 hours and 15 minutes.

It has been three decades since the Dodgers won a World Series, and most of their fans would like to see the end of that drought …

But do the boys in blue really plan to give us more of what we saw Tuesday night/Wednesday morning?

Wouldn’t that just encourage other teams to play the same way?

This was a brutal game to watch, and I saw every moment of it. All 315 minutes, which is 18,900 seconds, if a moment constitutes a second.

The biggest problem?

The 11-plus innings that Dodgers hitters turned into a whiff-fest, at the hands of the Milwaukee bullpen.

Brewers relievers set a postseason record by striking out Dodgers batters 17 times.

It went like this:

Dodgers lug digs in, upper-cuts every swing of the bat, misses baseball over and over again, often missing badly on hopeless hacks.

The sad thing about that is that the Dodgers coach their players to upper-cut — to increase their chances of hitting home runs, which they did better than any National League team this season. Though it may have been far fewer if they were hitting against the Milwaukee bullpen more often.

The Dodgers believe in the “three true outcomes” (walk, whiff, bomb) approach to baseball, which will kill the game if this keeps up.

Remember sacrifice bunts? Hitting behind the runner? Shortening up with two strikes? Trying to put the ball in play? Stealing a base?

The Dodgers apparently don’t.

This was a game that called for manufacturing a run, especially when the Brewers got even in the fifth inning.

All either team needed was one run. One stinking run. And there the Dodgers were, trying to put baseballs in the seats even as the temperature dropped at Chavez Ravine and it became less likely anyone could power a ball through the heavier, sea-inflected air.

The Dodgers ended with seven hits, all of them singles, in 44 at-bats. A .159 batting average. A rate of about one hit every two innings. (Over the past two games, they are 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position.)

Dodgers fans at the ballpark got so conditioned to guys whiffing and walking back to the dugout that you could hear some of them cheer when a ball was put in play. OK, maybe it was hit right at the shortstop, but at least a guy was running down the baseline. What a novelty.

It was really hard to watch, especially in the wee hours of the morning — which is how much of the world saw it.

The game started at 6:09 p.m. in Los Angeles. That translates to 3:09 a.m. tomorrow in Central European Time. It ended at 8:24 a.m., in the south of France, and somehow I was still awake — though the baseball I was watching probably had little or nothing to do with that.

Interestingly, the decisive run had a little bit of old-fashioned ball feel to it.

A broken-bat single by Manny Machado. Machado alertly taking second base on a wild pitch that went only a few feet away from the catcher. With Machado scoring on a close call at the plate, on Cody Bellinger’s single to short right field.

That run doesn’t happen without Machado taking second when the ball got away from Milwaukee’s catcher. Nor does it happen if Machado had not done a face-first slide and smacked home plate with his palm as he flew past the dish.

Not that the Dodgers will give that stuff any credence. This is a team that is about home runs and walks or, far more frequently, about striking out.

(OK, yes. They do play pretty good defense. More than pretty good. And that matters, yes.)

It is difficult to believe these strikeout specialists are still hanging around, in the best-of-seven series. Harder yet to believe they can win the World Series over Boston or Houston.

Game 5 of the NLCS begins shortly after 11 p.m. where I live. Thinking, though, that I will not last till the final pitch of this one, not after burning the midnight (and 4-5-6-7-8 a.m.) oil last night.

It’s time to ask if the Dodgers deserve to win, given the way they insist on playing offense. They are winning ugly, 21st century style.


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