Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Dodgers, Angels take different roads in LCS

By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Sports Editor

Dodgers
DISGUST: Matt Kemp's home run in Game 4 of the NLCS was wated with the Dodgers' walkoff loss.  For the second straight year, the team failed to tie the Phillies in Game 4 and it led to their eventual series defeat.  - Jeff Lewis for Sentinel

All season long, the Dodgers and Angels have been characterized by resiliency through Comeback victories and handling adversity.

But when they needed timely hitting and timely pitching to step up, only one team did that. It's why the Angels will be playing Game 5 tonight with no pressure and the Dodgers did so last night with nothing but pressure.

The Dodgers season will end at the hands of Philadelphia because they gave it to them. Game 1 pretty much set the tone for how this series would go last week.

Philadelphia struck first then the Dodgers responded. Then the team prayed for success against the struggling Phillies bullpen while hoping theirs would live up to expectations.

That's not how you play in October. The postseason is about attacking first then playing chess if you have to. Somewhere down the line, these experienced Dodgers forgot the lessons they learned during the season and left their bats in the NLDS

Matt Kemp's home run in Game 4 was pivotal but batting .250 overall up to then wasn't. Andre Ethier and Rafael Furcal - who both batted .500 against St. Louis - were almost non-existent in the NLCS.

Give plenty of credit to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who has become a postseason hero this year with an RBI in every game and his timely hitting and baserunning.

It's baffling that while Dodgers manager Joe Torre took Albert Pujols, the most feared slugger in the game, out of the Cardinals attack plan, he didn't do the same to Howard.

As a result, he will end this series as the NLCS MVP and the Dodgers will sit at home wondering why despite their experience and advantages. Here's a hint, strike first instead of responding to an attack.

You could argue the Angels dismiss that whole theory, winning Game 3 with two come-from-behind rallies. But their lineup top-to-bottom gives them that luxury.

Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis, the two Game 3 heroes, bat No. 7 and 8 in the lineup. With that kind of potential, you never know who'll step up and make the big hit.

It doesn't matter what they did against CC Sabathia on Tuesday night. Today, they'll play in front of the fans for potentially the last time this season with no pressure.

They'll play for pride in front of fans who have supported them through losing a teammate. They'll play to show their fans why they defined what a team is all season long.

No one player stood out at the plate all year. Kendrick's Game 3 heroics came despite sitting out Game 2.

Angel's manager Mike Scioscia didn't over-manage this team. He trusted his roster and made the right calls while Joe Girardi did the opposite in Game 3.

But you can't fault them for losing to a team that saw two postseason strugglers - Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez - find their game at the right time. While Sabathia's success wasn't much of a surprise, few could have predicted Rodriguez's success.

So today, watch the Angels fight for their lives with no pressure. They came alive when they had to and if this is their last stand in Southern California, they deserve a worthy salute.

Category: Baseball


 

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