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The Dodgers lost Game 1 of the NLCS, and they really should have won it. They came back against Aroldis Chapman, and that’s the kind of event you can only count on happening once — if even that often — in a playoff series. Instead, they lost on a pinch-hit grand slam and went down 0-1 in the series to the Cubs, but on Sunday night, Los Angeles rebounded behind their ace, Clayton Kershaw. Now, the series is all tied up, as the Dodgers won a game they had to — not mathematically had to, mind you, but had to because of context.
Jake Arrieta hasn’t pitched yet. John Lackey, who threw more innings than anyone on the Dodgers and posted what would have been their second-best ERA+, is the Cubs’ fourth starter and hasn’t pitched yet. Things don’t get easier for Los Angeles in this series, so winning these Kershaw starts is crucial. From what we can tell, he’s physically capable of starting Game 5 on short rest and then, if the series goes that far, contributing in Game 7 in a win-or-go-home situation. There probably is no Game 7 if the Cubs go up 2-0 before even getting to Arrieta — and maybe not even a Game 5, depending on how the next couple of games go — so a Game 2 win was crucial for the Dodgers.
Now, they get a day off to rest closer Kenley Jansen. Kershaw gets three days off before a Game 5 we now know will happen. They get to head home to Los Angeles, where they were 53-28 this season: that was tied for the second-best home record in 2016, behind only the Cubs at 57-24. Rich Hill starts Game 3, and it’s not difficult to envision a scenario where the Dodgers win behind him to guarantee the series will at least be even by the next time Kershaw takes the mound. We know anything can happen in a single game or series — again, Game 1 featured Aroldis Chapman blowing a lead in the same game we got a pinch-hit grand slam to win it — but the Dodgers have to be feeling pretty good on Monday morning.
- The only offense in Game 2 came courtesy the bat of Adrian Gonzalez, as he went deep against Kyle Hendricks in the second inning.
- The ALCS picks back up on Monday night with the Indians traveling to Toronto, where the Blue Jays will attempt to keep Cleveland from going up 3-0.
- If the Blue Jays put together an early lead against Trevor Bauer, maybe they can avoid seeing Andrew Miller again. Grant Brisbee writes that Miller is the last bargain in baseball, as he’s changed the way the offseason will view relievers forever.
- Speaking of Trevor Bauer, his favorite Star Wars movie is The Phantom Menace. He’s 25, so he was at an impressionable age when it came out. Still, though.
- Seriously, Trevor, if you love Darth Maul so much, just tell people you love The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. No one will judge you harshly for that.
- Jose Bautista is saying some weird things about "circumstances" being against the Blue Jays in the ALCS.
- The Red Sox lost general manager Mike Hazen to the Diamondbacks. Hazen was formerly Ben Cherington’s assistant GM, and he’s been in the organization long enough to have two World Series rings.
- D-Backs fans might not be familiar with Hazen, as he wasn’t even considered (publicly) a candidate for the job.
- The Braves aren’t looking for quick fixes in their rebuilding process.
- This Javier Baez play was a wonderful display of reflexes and heads-up baseball.