For the first time since 1947, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won back to back playoff games without hitting a home run. Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers felt completely different than just taking a one game series lead. It felt, bigger. The tension was incredibly high, and being down 1-0 in the 5th, it might as well had been 7-0. That’s how difficult it has been to score runs for this Dodgers team in this series. Even with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, their long time ace, being behind felt overwhelming.
The Dodgers simply have not hit with runners in scoring position, and for a team who led the National League in home runs, those thunderous bats have only produced two long balls the entire series. The pressure has been visible in the team, and the frustration has been visible in the fans. However, something changed when Chris Taylor did the things the rest of the team hasn’t been doing – the “small” things. “Get him on, get him over, and get him in” they say. Taylor delivered all of that, almost entirely on his own. He hustled to first (were you watching Manny Machado?), and got to second after a wild throw Jésus Aguilar couldn’t handle. Not content with being 180 feet from the plate, he stole third on the first pitch. Man on third, nobody out. All it took was a base hit up the middle from Austin Barnes to give the entire stadium and fan base a release of frustration and stress. For the first time this series, the Dodgers beat the Brewers at their own game, traditional small ball, and now are one win away from advancing.
Can the Dodgers continue playing small ball and win the series? Sure, they can, but that’s not who they are over a full 162, or 163 this year, season. When it comes down to it, they are going to need the long ball. For now, they have proven they can play the small game and win, against a team that has done it well the entire year. All that matters is to close the series out in Milwaukee. Whether that is via small ball or the big fly, the Dodgers are one win shy of being back in the World Series.
Photo: Sporting News