Dodgers Rediscover Their Grind It Out Mojo In NLDS Sweep

PHOENIX — In the first inning of the first game of their NL Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers forced an overwhelmed Taijuan Walker to throw 48 pitches, drew two walks and scored four runs.

In the first two innings of Game 2, they drew three walks off Robbie Ray who also threw a wild pitch and labored through 39 pitches.

In Game 3 on Monday night, the trend continued. Six of their first 11 batters took Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke to a full count. Greinke threw 29 pitches in the first inning, 54 just to get through the Dodgers’ lineup once and 71 through three innings.

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“That’s the way our offense ticks,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said, champagne dripping from his beard in the postgame celebration Monday night.

“When we’re seeing a lot of pitches and taking walks and getting guys on base, that’s when we’re at our best. It’s not about getting 15 or 20 hits a night. It’s about taking walks – five, six, seven, eight walks. You get six, seven, eight hits to go along with that, that’s a pretty good night.”

The Dodgers’ offense stopped ticking in the final six weeks of the season. In September, the Dodgers had the lowest batting average in the majors (.223), the 24th-best on-base percentage (.306), the 23rd-best OPS (.705) and scored fewer runs than 21 other teams.

The relentless approach of June, July and August was gone – but not forgotten.

“We did win 12 of our last 18. I think that helped,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said when asked how the “team offense” had been turned back on for the NLDS. “I think being in that environment in Colorado where they were looking to clinch (on the final weekend of the regular season) and playing some games with some fairly high stakes. That helped also.

“And really, the days we had off the workouts we had I thought really re-focused us. The coaching staff, the front office, the players were talking about how to prepare for this series. It was good for us to be able to press the reset button. Guys came out ready to play. It’s easy for those layoffs to become an excuse where guys feel like they’re rusty. But our guys were obviously ready from the first pitch.

“Give a ton of credit not just to our players but to Doc (Manager Dave Roberts) and (hitting coaches) Turner Ward, Tim Hyers, Shawn Wooten – our whole hitting group.”

The group effort against the Diamondbacks was impressive. The Dodgers were outhomered by the Diamondbacks, 7-3 (including 6-1 in the first two games at home), but drew more than twice as many walks (16-7) and had a big advantage in baserunners thanks to a .397 on-base percentage in the three games (compared to .252 for the Diamondbacks).

That constant pressure led to 40 at-bats with runners in scoring position during the series for the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks had just nine and only one hit in those situations, relying on home runs to produce 10 of their 11 runs in the series.

The Dodgers were so committed to not giving at-bats away that even Game 3 starter Yu Darvish fouled off three pitches and extended his first at-bat against Greinke for six pitches before striking out.

“That’s not easy at all,” Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager said of sticking with the game plan. “Hats off to all the guys in this locker room. We grinded out every pitch, tried to win every pitch.”

The three-game sweep means the Dodgers now have another four-day break to once again press the re-set button. The Dodgers forced Diamondbacks pitchers to throw 530 pitches in their three games – an average of 21 per inning and 4.31 per plate appearance (the most among NLDS teams). Get ready for more four-hour games. The opponent will change in the NLCS but the offensive game plan won’t, Zaidi said

“A lot of it is the playoff formula,” the GM said. “The way you attack an individual pitcher may be specific. But the notion of trying to win pitches and win at-bats and play team offense and team baseball – that’s a theme I think we’re going to try to continue throughout these playoffs.”

NLCS Schedule, start times TBA

Saturday, Oct. 14, Game 1: Cubs-Nats winner at Dodgers | TV: TBS

Sunday, Oct. 15, Game 2: Cubs-Nats winner at Dodgers | TV: TBS

Tuesday, Oct. 17, Game 3: Dodgers at Cubs-Nats winner | TV: TBS

Wednesday, Oct. 18, Game 4: Dodgers at Cubs-Nats winner | TV: TBS

Thursday, Oct. 19, Game 5*: Dodgers at Cubs-Nats winner | TV: TBS

Saturday, Oct. 21, Game 6*: Cubs-Nats winner at Dodgers | TV: TBS

Sunday, Oct. 22, Game 7*: Cubs-Nats winner at Dodgers | TV: TBS

Source : http://www.dailynews.com/2017/10/10/dodgers-rediscover-their-grind-it-out-mojo-in-nlds-sweep/

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