This year’s NLCS was a classic seven game series that had ups and downs on each side. There were so many big moments that swung the momentum to both teams throughout the series.
Below, we take a look at the ten biggest moments for the Dodgers from the NLCS.
#10. Bellinger’s diving catch
In the top of the 10th inning in Game 4, with the score tied 1-1, Lorenzo Cain smacked a line shot to the gap in right center that had extra bases written all over it. But in came a diving Cody Bellinger, laying out to make a fantastic catch, and robbing Cain of a hit. If that ball falls in, it would have gave the Brewers a great scoring opportunity with the leadoff man on 2nd or 3rd base and no one out. Cain could have ended up being the winning run, but Bellinger’s amazing catch ensured the game remained tied.
#9. Barnes single ties Game 5
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 5th inning in Game 5, the Dodgers had a man on 3rd with no one out. But after Kiki Hernadez struck out, up came Austin Barnes. And if you’ve been following the Dodgers at all this year, you know about Barnes’ struggles offensively.
A strike out there would have been a killer. Not only would it fail to get the run in, but possibly force Dave Roberts to pinch hit for Clayton Kershaw, who was pitching great. Fortunately, he didn’t have to make that call, as Barnes hit a single up the middle passed a drawn in infield to tie the game.
After overtaking the starting job from a struggling Yasmani Grandal, Barnes had been solid defensively but still hadn’t done much with the bad. He finished the NLCS 2-18 (.111) with 9 strikeouts. But his Game 5 hit came at a very big time and was a significant factor in the Dodgers win.
#8. Buehler’s Game 7 start
The last time a rookie started a Game 7 was in 2007, when Daisuke Matsuzaka did it with the Red Sox. Of course, Matsuzaka had pitched several years in Japan, and wasn’t a true rookie in terms of experience. Going back further, the next rookie who did it was John Lackey in the 2002 World Series.
There were obvious questions about how Buehler would handle this stage. He hadn’t pitched his best in his first two post season starts, and the bright lights of a Game 7 can bring a lot of pressure.
Buehler answered by pitching a great game. His overall stat line doesn’t do him justice because Roberts pulled him so quickly, but he did exactly what the Dodgers needed him to. He pitched 4 2/3 and gave up just one run. He also struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. It was the performance the Dodgers needed from Buehler, and it came on the biggest stage.
#7 Puig ices Game 7
The Dodgers were clinging to a one-run lead in the 6th inning of Game 7. They had two on, with two outs, when Yasiel Puig came up. He launched a 1-1 pitch over the left-center field wall to give the Dodgers a 5-1 lead, and put the final nail in the Brewers coffin. Although Milwaukee didn’t end up scoring the rest of the game anyway, Puig’s homerun was still huge. It gave the team a much needed cushion that they wouldn’t relinquish.
#6. Rich Hill and the Bullpen keep Game 4 close
Facing a 2-1 series deficit, the Dodgers needed a big game from Rich Hill in Game 4. He responded with a solid five inning outing, allowing only one ER and striking out six. After he departed, the bullpen stepped in and was phenomenal the rest of the game. In the 13-inning affair, the Dodgers used eight different relievers who combined to go 8 shutout innings. In a game where they struggled mightily to find some offense, it was the Dodgers pitching that kept them in the game.
#5. Bellinger’s Game 7 homerun
Game 7 didn’t start out ideally for the Dodgers. After Christian Yelich hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the first inning, they found themselves down early, and the Milwaukee crowd was going nuts. That was until Cody Bellinger came up in the top of the second, and clubbed a Jhoulys Chacin pitch way out into the night.
It was a huge homerun. Not only did it put the Dodgers up for good in the game, but it allowed Buehler to relax a little, and pitch with the lead. It also made Craig Counsell go to his bullpen earlier then he may have liked. Josh Hader would enter the game the next inning and be done by the end of the 5th.
#4. Taylor’s incredible catch
While Bellinger’s homerun put the Dodgers on top, it was Chris Taylor’s catch that ensured they would stay there. After Buehler gave up a two out hit to Lorenzo Cain, Dave Roberts called on the bullpen. Many questioned such a quick hook with how Buehler was throwing the ball, and those questions would have been a lot louder had the Brewers ended up scoring.
When Yelich lined a 0-2 pitch from Julio Urias to left field, it seemed destined for a hit. Taylor actually took a bad route to the ball initially, and as he went back to the warning track, it looked like it was going over his head for sure. But he recovered just enough to be able to extend his arm all the way out and snag the ball. Inning over.
If Taylor doesn’t make that play, the game is tied and the Brewers have the go-ahead run on 2nd base. Who knows where the game goes from there. It also would have opened up a huge discussion about whether Roberts pulled Buehler too early. Thankfully, it didn’t become an issue.
#3. Kershaw steps up big in Game 5
The whole “Clayton Kershaw can’t pitch in October” narrative was alive and well after Game 1. Although it was a game that he certainly struggled in, Kershaw was also let down by his defense, as the Dodgers committed four errors on the day. It was just an all-around bad game for the team.
With the series tied 2-2, Game 5 had huge implications, not only for the Dodgers, but for Kershaw. Could he come up big when the team needed him most?
He answered the call, hurling seven innings of one run ball, and striking out nine. It was vintage Kershaw, and he went back to throwing more breaking balls than he had in Game 1, and kept the Brewers hitters off-balance all night. The dominant performance came in a pivotal Game 5, and gave the Dodgers a crucial 3-2 series advantage.
#2. Turner’s homer steals Game 2
With so much going on in the series, especially as it went along, Justin Turner’s Game 2 heroics almost seem like an afterthought. But make no mistake, his homerun late in that game was one of the most important moments of the series.
Trailing 3-2 in the 8th inning, the Dodgers were six outs away from being in a 0-2 series hole. After Taylor got on base with an infield single, the team’s MVP came up in a critical spot. He greeted Jeremy Jeffress with a no-doubt, 2-run homerun to left field. It gave the Dodgers the lead, and the game.
Without that swing from Tuner, the moments from Games 4, 5, and 7 either don’t matter, or don’t happen at all. Turner’s blast really was the turning point of the series.
#1. Cody wins it in the 13th
The game just seemed to keep going and going and going. The Dodgers scored a run in the 1st inning, but went quiet the rest of the game. Same for the Brewers, who tied the game in the 5th but didn’t score again. The game lasted over five hours, and it wasn’t until the bottom of the 13th inning, when Cody Bellinger stepped up with the winning run on 2nd, that the Dodgers finally came through.
Bellinger singled home Manny Machado and the Dodgers walk-off victory tied the series at two games apiece.
It was such a close game, with blown opportunities on both sides. If Milwaukee could have pulled it out, the Dodgers were likely finished in the series. They needed this game… a game in which they used all their position players AND their entire bullpen. Bellinger delivered with a big knock, and kept the Dodgers playoff hopes alive.
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