The Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks last night 3-1 to finish a 3-game sweep of the NLDS and advance. But that wasn’t about advancing, that was about exorcising. As in exorcising the demons of late August and September. The Diamondbacks owned the Dodgers then and swept them in back-to-back series. If you’d given a truth serum to Dave Roberts and his crew, I’m guessing Arizona was the last team they wanted to see in the division series. But that’s who they got. And that’s who they dismantled.
Yu Darvish did exactly what he was brought to Los Angeles to do – win big games. 5 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 7 strikeouts. Allowed just a bunt single and a solo shot and at one point, retired 13 straight Diamondbacks before he ultimately turned it over to the bullpen to finish it off.
Darvish was removed after hitting Chris Walker in the bottom of the sixth and it almost felt like a quick hook. In fact, a lot of starters in Darvish’s position would be bent about being lifted so early after being so dominant, but he said all the right things: “If I was the manager, I’d do the same thing. Use all the bullpen [options] because we have an off day tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.”
As happy as Dodger fans had to be about Darvish dominating, you know they were even happier about the Dodger hitters taking care of business against Zack Greinke. Or to quote Irie Craig, that mercenary Zack Greinke. Chris Taylor led off the game with a double and then made his way around to score and give LA a 1-0 lead. Then the Dodgers really went to work on Greinke. And by going to work, I mean, they waited him out. Got him up to 54 pitches in the first two innings, worked him for five walks in five innings and got to 100 pitches by the end of the fifth inning.
But it wasn’t all patience. There was some power, too. Like this from Cody Bellinger in the fifth.
And then Austin Barnes ended Greinke’s night in the sixth.
And the only thing better than beating that mercenary Zack Greinke for LA fans was the fact that the police were guarding the Diamondbacks outfield pool to prevent the Dodgers from cannonballing into it. But they weren’t going to. Not this time. This group isn’t the group that partied in the pool a few years back. This group expects to be here. Kenley Jansen put it another way: “We know how good we are. We trust in every single one of those guys.”
I’m not saying that they’re back to being the Dodgers that won 43 of 50 at one point, but they’re not the team that lost 16 of 17 either. That team doesn’t come into this series and steamroll the Diamondbacks in three straight. Arizona was the obstacle and the obstacle is the way. And now that they’ve gotten past them, now that they’ve beaten up the bully and did it so easily has to give them a lift going into the NLCS. The Dodgers have gone from not wanting to see the Diamondbacks to AGAIN being the team that you don’t want to see. To again, being the team to beat.