The National League Championship became a true series this past Monday night when the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, with each team now picking up a win in the other’s ballpark. Both teams are now tied 2-2 after last night’s exciting Dodgers walk-off win in the bottom of the 13th inning, and Game 5 now becomes a must win for both teams in this best of seven series. It is even more so for the Dodgers, as they will have to board a plane back to Milwaukee with either a 3-2 series lead and the momentum behind them or a 2-3 series deficit and a roaring Milwaukee fan base to cheer against them.
The Brewers capitalized on the fact that Clayton Kershaw has struggled in the postseason, with career October numbers of a 4.26 ERA in 133.0 inning’s pitched, allowing them to mount a comeback midway through Game 1 and hold the lead to take the series opener last Friday night. So far, in Kershaw’s tenure as the Dodgers Ace, he is a 7-time all star, 5-time ERA title winner, 3-time Cy Young awardee, the 2014 National League MVP, and the pitching Triple Crown Winner in 2011 where he led the MLB in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average. He is truly an elite pitcher, and will no doubt be a first ballot Hall of Famer if he keeps these impressive numbers up, but his Achilles heel has been in postseason play, and going into Game 5 it might just cost his team if he isn’t able to perform at his regular season level.
The Dodgers still managed to split the series and head back home to LA after being reenergized by their come from behind road win in Game 2. Unfortunately for them, the Brewers were able to capitalize on the lackluster home team performance to steal back some of their lost NLCS momentum, as they secured the win in Dodgers Stadium on Monday night to retake the series lead at 2-1. Going into this series we all knew it wouldn’t be an easy win for either team – considering the only real difference between these high-powered lineups are their respective payrolls. Nevertheless, the Dodgers were able to regroup and battle back in Game 4, mounting another come back in the series standings off the bat of 1B Cody Bellinger and solid relief pitching from the Dodgers bullpen, which threw a combined 8 shut out innings to keep them in the game.
Now as we look ahead to tonight’s Game 5 matchup it should be clear to those following this series that home field advantage has shifted back to Milwaukee and that the Dodgers may not be able to afford falling behind in the series 2-3. With both teams making their way back to Milwaukee for Games 6 and possibly a Game 7, tonight’s game is a pivotal one for Big Blue and their hopes of redeeming their 2017 World Series loss to the Houston Astros.
With Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw taking the mound against the Brewers starting pitcher Wade Miley, we should be in for another pressure-filled showcase between the top two National League teams this year. For the Dodgers, however, we pray that the Kershaw who pitched in the regular season (or at least the one who pitched effectively against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS) shows up and not the one who bombed in Game 1.