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Dodgers Aim for Phillies
It’s a rematch in the National League Championship Series! It’s the Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies!
Last year the Phillies came to the series being the cock of the walk physically intimidating the young Dodgers by pitching inside. While Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda shot back in game three, the tone had been set. The Phillies were going to take the pennant, and the Dodgers could do nothing but stand there.
This year is a whole different story.
“I think experience mainly is the big difference,” manager Joe Torre said. “This year we’ve been pretty consistent all year long. Even during our bad streak, we were merely two or three games under .500 during that streak. We've been holding the line pretty well, so I think the experience and the consistency is the difference.”
“They definitely have all the experience in the world with the type of players,” Phillies game one starter Cole Hamels echoed.
Speaking of Hamels he is a big difference in this year’s series coming off of a mediocre year. The left-handed starter who won the World Series MVP last season had a 4.32 ERA and batters were hitting .273 against him, nearly 50 points higher than last season.
“Sometimes I put a little too much pressure just for the fact of knowing that I needed to be somewhat perfect in order to succeed,” Hamels explained. “And I think that kind of drew me away of what I really had to do, and that was causing me to make those mistakes just because I was focused too much on not making a mistake, you end up making them. I think when you kind of go out there with an even keeled and you're more relaxed, you make those better pitches.”
Another huge asset for the Dodgers is their bullpen. While most experts before the NLDS completely ignored the bullpen, they made a statement against the St. Louis Cardinals and did not budge.
“They're very good,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “And then they got Broxton at the end. Yeah, I mean, that's a concern. And basically once they get to those guys, that gives them a big, big chance. But at the same time for us to win the game, we're going to have to hit them.”
Easier said than done, ask Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.
Offensively the Dodgers are more than Manny Ramirez. Andre Ethier has stepped up huge for the Dodgers getting key hits all season long including back-to-back walk-offs against the Phillies at Dodgers Stadium this season. His gaudy 1.905 OPS against the Cardinals shows that his intensity has not waned at all.
For the Dodgers to do well though, Matt Kemp needs to wake up. Lost in the hoopla of game three of the NLDS was the fact that he got the golden sombrero - four strikeouts. Aside from his single in game three and home run in his first at-bat in game one, Kemp was a big zero ending up batting .143 in the series.
Also the rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Vicente Padilla, Hiroki Kuroda and Randy Wolf need to keep the Dodgers close and not give up the big inning. They don’t need to be dominant. Once the Dodgers get to that shaky Phillies bullpen, they can break open a game. Don’t let those Brad Lidge saves against the Rockies fool you.
Talking with the Dodgers they know to a man what it felt like to have the visiting team celebrate winning the pennant. They remember the sting, and they won’t let it happen again.
The Dodgers will win the series in five games.