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James Loney getting congratulated after hitting his grand slam in the fifth inning. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
As I said the other day, nothing about the Dodgers makes any sense.
They faced Ryan Dempster in the first game who went 14-3 at the Friendly Confines this season. Meanwhile they sent out Derek Lowe who gets next to no run support from the team. And it’s widely known that the Dodgers have only won one postseason game since winning it all in 1988.
So the Dodgers brought some Southern California heat to the Cubs and spanked them 7-2.
The Dodgers during the season were 22nd in all of baseball in hitting homeruns. And it was homeruns that pulled the Dodgers through the game.
Down 2-0 off of a Mark DeRosa homer in the second inning, James Loney came up to bat with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Loney swung and missed badly on two awful pitches by Dempster. Just when it seemed that the Dodgers would fritter away their second bases loaded opportunity, Loney then did the unthinkable. He hit the ball to the opposite field in the wind for a grand slam. He joins Ron Cey and Dusty Baker as the only three Dodgers (LA or Brooklyn) to hit a grand slam in the postseason.
From there, the Dodgers did not let up getting solo shots from Manny Ramirez (a tee drive he dug up from the ground) and Russell Martin to help secure the win for Lowe.
Aside from the long balls, what was really impressive about the Dodgers was their patience. Despite being down 2-0 until the fifth inning, they kept making Dempster work hard. In his 4 2/3 innings of work Dempster threw 109 pitches, 57 of them for strikes.
This win did a lot for the Dodgers. Never mind that teams that win game one of the NLDS have gone 23-3 in the Wild Card era (since 1995). Never mind that the Cubs now have their longest postseason losing streak losing their last seven postseason games dating back to game five of the 2003 NLCS. Never mind that this marks only the second postseason victory the Dodgers have had since 1988.
What this win did for the Dodgers is that Joe Torre's mantra of being patient at the plate will help win games. It gives them the confidence that they can win games in the playoffs.
While it's easy to get carried away with this win given how scarce October wins are for the Dodgers, it must be remembered that all the Dodgers accomplished was guaranteeing a game four at Dodger Stadium on Sunday at the worst and stealing the home field advantage. The Cubs were the best team in the NL during the season, and they can be counted on to fight back tooth and nail in the series.
But if the Dodgers continue to play like this, I really like their chances in this series.