Year in and year out the LA Dodgers easily win the NL West. And year in and year out they fail to win come October. Yes they’ve been to the last two World Series but both times they’ve come out empty handed.
This year’s NLDS was supposed to be an easy series for them. Facing off against a Washington Nationals team that hasn’t been to the NLCS since the 80’s when they were the Expos. Some (including this writer) predicted an easy sweep for them. Prior to this series, the Dodgers were 9-1 in their last 10 NLDS games.
The Dodgers took care of business in game one with a 6-0 win and were well on their way to another NLCS. Everything went right for the Dodgers in this one. So much so that people probably figured they didn’t need to watch the rest of the series.
And then game two happened. Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 on three hits and one run. And postseason Kershaw struck again, though it wasn’t completely terrible this time as he let up three runs. Nats tied it up at 1 game a piece going back to D.C. So it’s not a sweep, surely the Dodgers will finish things out east. Right?
Cue game three. The Nats take a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first and could the choke be starting? 6th inning, two outs and runners at the corners. Not surprising that one run could get in but SEVEN!? Justin Turner’s three run homer capped off the seven run inning. The Nats had something brewing in the bottom half but thanks to a Howie Kendrick base running blunder, the Nats could only muster up a run. Dodgers take game three 10-4 and are just one win away from the NLCS. All they needed was one win, that’s it, just one.
Justin Turner got the Dodgers on the board early with a solo shot in the first to give the Dodgers the 1-0 lead. But was it enough? Of course not, it’s the Dodgers! In comes the Dodgers bullpen that struggled in the 5th inning giving up four runs including a Ryan Zimmerman three run homer. Nats even the series again with a 6-1 win. Surely the Dodgers won’t blow it at home in game five right?
Fast forward to inning number 10. Old friend Joe Kelly is pitching and things go south quickly. Walk, double, and intentional walk and up comes former Dodger Howie Kendrick to put the dagger in the Dodgers hearts. Let’s not also forget that the Dodgers had a 3-1 lead and postseason Clayton Kershaw gave up back to back jacks to let the Nats back in. Nationals won in in five and shocked the world.
Coming into this postseason, the Nationals were known to choke. Trailing against the Brewers in the play-in game, the Nats appeared to be on their way to another postseason disappointment. But a misplayed ball in right changed the postseason landscape. No one expected them to beat the Dodgers and here they are ready to battle the Cardinals in the NLCS. But once again the Dodgers fail come October. Dave Roberts continually wins over 100 games yet can’t do it when it matters most. Perhaps he’s on the hot seat in LA come next season?
So lets call the Dodgers for what they really are–CHOKERS.
Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)