For the third time in the past five seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers are heading to the NLCS. The Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 3 of the NLDS on Monday night (LAD 3, ARI 1) to complete a sweep of the best-of-5 series.
Greinke really labored
No, he did not pitch as poorly as he did in the NL Wild Card Game last week, but Zack Greinke clearly was not sharp in Game 3. He struggled to put hitters away and uncharacteristically walked five batters in only five innings of work. It was his first five-walk outing since 2014. Here is Greinke's final line:
As Alex Speier of the Boston Globe wrote earlier this week, just about every team in baseball history that came back to win a best-of-5 series after losing Games 1-2 received a dominant start in Game 3 to spur the comeback. Greinke could not produce that start Monday. He allowed a run in the first inning -- plus two more in the middle innings -- and his team had to play from behind right out of the gate.
Darvish was great, but had a short leash
The Dodgers acquired Yu Darvish at the trade deadline for one reason and one reason only: to win the World Series. They weren't looking to get over the hump or simply win the NLDS. They want a championship.
One step in winning a championship is winning the LDS, and Darvish was excellent in Game 3. He did allow a Daniel Descalso home run -- Daniel Descalso! -- but otherwise nothing else.
Let's put that performance in emoji form: 😘👌. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
HowEVA, only five innings and 74 pitches? What's up with that? I'll tell you what's up with that: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did not want Darvish going through the lineup a third time. Here are the numbers:
- First time through the order: .205/.288/.326
- Second time through the order: .227/.291/.373
- Third time through the order: .219/.297/.382
Darvish has not been that much worse going through the lineup a third time -- we're comparing a .664 OPS to a .679 OPS here -- but with a deep and rested bullpen, Roberts didn't want to take any chances, so Darvish got the quick hook.
Bellinger broke out at the plate
The first two games of the NLDS did not go particularly well for runaway NL Rookie of the Year favorite Cody Bellinger. He went 1 for 10 with six strikeouts in Games 1-2, and generally looked lost at the plate. It happens. Even the best hitters will look bad in 10 at-bat samples.
In Game 3 though, Bellinger broke out at the plate and smashed his first home run of the postseason. It was an opposite-field shot to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the fifth. Here's the video:
That is a mighty impressive piece of hitting. Not a bad pitch by Greinke at all! He located down and away. Bellinger just reached out and drove it to the opposite field. At 22 years and 88 days old, he is the youngest Dodgers player to ever homer in the postseason.
Bellinger was even better in the field
The home run will get the attention for obvious reasons. But Bellinger had a monster game in the field as well. It's not easy for a first baseman to do that! First, Bellinger went over the dugout railing to catch the final out of the fifth inning. Check this out:
Goodness. Also, can a guy get a little help? Almost all the Dodgers in the dugout scattered away rather than help make sure their franchise first baseman and cleanup hitter didn't take a nasty spill. It's all good though. Bellinger was fine.
Then, one inning later, Bellinger turned a great 3-6-3 double play against David Peralta and made a nice diving grab to rob Ketel Marte of a base hit. In the span of two innings, Bellinger socked a dinger and made three excellent defensive plays. Talk about two-way impact.
The D-Backs had three hits
Ultimately, the Diamondbacks lost Game 3 because they could not get anything going against Darvish and various relievers. Arizona had three hits in Game 3 and they couldn't have been any more different. Marte laid down a beautiful push bunt in the first, Descalso popped a solo home run in the fifth, and Peralta found left field with a seeing-eye single in the ninth. Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez went a combined 0 for 7 with three strikeouts in Game 3. That's no way to save your season, offense.