The Los Angeles Dodgers prevailed over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 5 of the NLCS on Wednesday and in doing so took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw authored one of the best starts of his postseason career, as he allowed only one run in seven innings of work en route to the 5-2 L.A. victory. The Dodgers finally got some timely hits with runners in scoring position, while the Brewers continued to get little production from core hitters Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar. The Dodgers now need only one more win to advance to the World Series for a second straight year.
Now here's what you need to know about Game 5.
The gamesmanship started early
Game 5 had barely started when the first plot twist happened. Lefty Wade Miley, starting on short rest, walked Dodgers leadoff hitter Cody Bellinger, and Brewers manager Craig Counsell promptly lifted Miley and went to the right-hander Brandon Woodruff. And the big reveal ...
Removing Miley was Brewers’ plan. He will start Game 6.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 17, 2018
The idea, of course, is to trick the platoon-heavy Dodgers into stacking their lineup with right-handed bats and then flipping the script on them after only one hitter. L.A. manager Dave Roberts, whether out of anticipation of such a gambit or good fortune, didn't do that. It worked out for the Dodgers in that sense. For the Brewers, the bottom of the first worked out when Manny Machado hit into an inning-ending double play.
Even though it didn't work as planned with the Dodger lineup, it was a nice attempt by Counsell. Miley as noted was on short rest, and now he's ready for a full rest start in Game 6.
Kershaw pitched a gem
You know all about. Well, NLCS Game 5 was indeed a peak ...
Of his 98 pitches, 69 went for strikes. In terms of Game Score, a quick-and-dirty Bill James metric that measures a pitcher's dominance or lack thereof in a given start (50 is average and anything 90 or higher is an absolute gem), Kershaw in Game 5 put up a mark of 78. That means his Game 5 start is tied with two others for the highest Game Score of his postseason career. The only one better is the 81 he put up in Game 2 of this year's NLDS against the Braves. On that note ...
Clayton Kershaw: 8th postseason start allowing 1 run or fewer and 3 hits or fewer.— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 18, 2018
No one else in MLB history has more than 5 such starts.
So, as ever, Kershaw struggles in the postseason, except when he's really, really good in the postseason, as he was on Wednesday.
Dodger hitters finally came through
In Game 3, the Dodgers were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. In, they were 2 for 10. At one point early in Game 5, they had scored one run in their last 26 innings.
Finally, though, those Dodger bats stepped up in key spots. In Game 5, they went a robust 4 for 13 as a team with runners in scoring position (along with Brian Dozier's driving in a run on a ground-out). As a representative sampling, here's Yasiel Puig giving L.A. a 3-1 lead in the sixth ...
During the regular season, the Dodgers had the NL's best offense, and eventually they were bound to break through. That's what they did, at least in spots, in Game 5.
Yelich and Aguilar are still struggling
Jesus Aguilar had a chance to pad the Brewers' lead with two outs and the bases loaded in the third. However, he was unable to get it done against Kershaw. That continues a trend this postseason, as Aguilar is now 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position in these playoffs. He was of course a linchpin in the regular season, when he smashed 35 homers and put up a 135 OPS+. In the postseason though, the Brewers have been surviving despite not getting much from him.
As for Christian Yelich, the presumptive NL MVP came into Game 5 batting just .188/.350/.188 for the series with zero RBI. Then in Game 5 he went 0 for 4 with three runners left on base. In matters related to all of this, the Brewers have scored two runs in the last 22 innings.
The Dodgers are one win away
Over at WhoWins, they tell us that teams in the Dodgers' current position -- i.e., up 3-2 in a best-of-seven series and having played Game 1 on the road -- go on to win the series in question 62.3 percent of the time. That doesn't make L.A. the overwhelming favorite to repeat as NL champs, but it does make them the favorite. In obvious terms, they need to win only one of the next two games, while the Brewers must win both.
Now the series shifts back to Miller Park in Milwaukee for Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7. Game 6 is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 19, with first pitch at 8:39 p.m. ET. You can stream the game on fuboTV (Try for free).
As detailed above, Miley, who pitched an abbreviated gem in Game 2, will start Game 6 for Milwaukee. On the L.A. side, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu is lined up to go. The host Brewers, of course, will be on the brink of elimination.
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