Whicker: Astros leave Dodgers offense stranded in space

LOS ANGELES — You can send a good-riddance bouquet to Yu Darvish if you wish.

You can build the weirdest Erector set of reasons why Dave Roberts bollixed up the pitching.

In lieu of recognizing that the Dodgers lost the World Series to a better team.

You can wonder all winter why manifest destiny died in the glove of Yuli Gurriel, who took the final throw from Jose Altuve and disbelievingly put his hands on his head as the Houston Astros, who first were named the Colt .45s and played on a snake-infested field with mosquitos the size of backpacks, won the first World Series in their history.

But in the end you have to go back to Dodger trademarks that lost their adhesiveness and fell off, and Dodger habits that they somehow unlearned.

In the tough moments, the big blue offensive machine was taken apart by Houston pitching and never reassembled. With all those pieces on the ground, nothing else mattered.

Game 7 was the most cut-and-dried game of the series. There were no lead changes, no course corrections after Series MVP George Springer creamed a two-run home run off Darvish in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.

Yet Lance McCullers Jr. hit almost as many Dodgers as he did the targets from catcher Brian McCann, and he was gone in the third inning, with plenty of chances for the Dodgers to recover. They didn’t, and their clubhouse reeked of disbelief.

“I thought all day we were going to come in here to win,” catcher Austin Barnes said.

“We left everything we had on that field,” center fielder Chris Taylor said. “I think everyone in here is physically and mentally exhausted. Throughout the playoffs, there was no letup. We’re pretty spent right now. It’s a good time to get away from baseball for a while.”

Their season ended on the first day of November, less than three and a half months from when another one will begin. In boxing they say there is always a style waiting for you, a method to neutralize whatever you do. That seemed impossible after 104 regular-season wins, but the Astros had that secret sauce. It came from pitchers most Dodgers fans couldn’t have picked out of a Starbucks line.

Charlie Morton pitched the final four innings of Game 7 with 99 mph fastballs and great variety and precision. He held the Dodgers to five hits in 10⅓ innings overall, with 11 strikeouts.

Brad Peacock pitched 7⅓ innings against L.A. and gave up four hits.

The Dodgers managed to avoid losing to Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. But Peacock finished them off in Game 3 and Morton in Game 7.

“Morton had that bowling-ball sinker,” Barnes said. “But when they got the five-run lead, sure, they were going to come right at us.”

“He threw me a lot of changeups,” Taylor said of Morton. “Curves and changeups and that heavy sinker, really tough at-bats.”

‘“I think they put the ball in the spots they wanted,” first baseman Cody Bellinger said. “They were aggressive and got ahead of us. We had guys on base, chances to do something, and couldn’t get the hit we needed.”

All season the Dodgers were finicky eaters at the plate. They stayed within the confines of their personal strike zones. They became annoying fouling machines in two-strike situations, and then teed off when pitchers gave in.

The Astros took the game back to where it lives, where pitchers put the burden on hitters. The Dodgers drew three walks per game and saw more pitches than Houston did. But Morton needed only 128 pitches to get his 31 outs in the Series.

“What I learned is that it’s not the regular season, and you have to make adjustments in-game if necessary,” Bellinger said. “And sometimes, different kinds of adjustments.”

Bellinger, who as usual faced more of the media music than any other Dodger, had a strange Series. He wound up striking out 17 times, which is a Series record, and 29 times for the postseason, which is also a record. He started the Series 0 for 13. But then he won Game 4 and did all he could to win Game 5, with a homer and a triple.

Seven games were long enough for Bellinger, as good a defender as either side had, to throw behind Darvish on Alex Bregman’s grounder, giving Houston a 1-0 lead in about three minutes. Bellinger wound up 4 for 28 for the Series and had plenty of company in misery.

Justin Turner, who was far from 100 percent physically, went 4 for 25 with 2 RBIs. Yasiel Puig was 4 for 27. Chris Taylor and Corey Seager were both 6 for 27.

Add it up and the Dodgers hit .205 for the Series and .200 with men in scoring position. More important, their on-base percentage was only .290.

And yet they will have trouble letting go of the very legitimate notion that they should have won the Series in five games.

They had a two-run lead in Game 2 going into the eighth inning before Houston laid waste to the bullpen, and they had three leads in that Mad Max of a Game 5 in Houston before Dave Roberts was reduced to using relievers who should have spent the night in the hammock.

“That’s probably what I’ll look back on, the two games we had a chance to win and didn’t,” Taylor said. “But I’m sure we won a couple of games you could say the same thing about.”

A few Dodgers were giving the “we had a great season” speech without convincing anyone, including themselves. The verge of victory is a more painful resting place than the periphery. Especially when you forget how you got there.

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Whicker: Scenes from a wetting: Dodgers rejoice, reflect in Chicago

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Austin Barnes celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Austin Barnes celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Austin Barnes celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Austin Barnes celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig celebrates with his teammates after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and his teammates celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and his teammates celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, left, and his teammates celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, left, and his teammates celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, left, and his teammates celebrate after their series-clinching victory over the Cubs in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, left, and his teammates celebrate after their series-clinching victory over the Cubs in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Justin Turner celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Justin Turner celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Justin Turner celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Justin Turner celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and Charlie Culberson celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and Charlie Culberson celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez celebrates with his teammates celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez celebrates with his teammates celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez celebrates with his teammates celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez celebrates with his teammates celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Austin Barnes, left, and Kenley Jansen celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ Austin Barnes, left, and Kenley Jansen celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    The Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate after Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Chicago. The Dodgers won 11-1 to win the series and advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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CHICAGO — This time, Clayton Kershaw’s back was no problem. The Dodgers told him they had it.

This time, the streets in Wrigleyville were clear, and the bus was able to leave without human barricades.

This time, Kiké Hernandez drew the ace of hearts, and took his turn among the rotation of saviors with a home run, a grand slam and another home run.

Why was this the Dodgers’ time?

Forget the 29-year drought that has deprived a generation of L.A. fans of deep Octobers. Why was this different from 2004 and 2006 and every year since 2013?

Andre Ethier, the senior Dodger in terms of service, stood in a warm and wet clubhouse. He wasn’t too indisposed to answer it.

“They rallied around me all year,” Ethier said. “They were winning all the time and I wasn’t playing. They didn’t have to do that. They kept cheering me on.”

Ethier missed most of 2016 with a broken tibia. He missed most of 2017 with a herniated disk. Clubhouse traffic came and went without him, strangers from other teams, guys who didn’t remember the days when he and Matt Kemp propped up the lineup.

Ethier made this roster and homered in Game 3. His World Series ring, provided the Dodgers win it, will be the same size as everyone else’s.

“When the guys running the organization came in, they had a track record,” Ethier said. “They’d won in places like Tampa Bay and Oakland, where they didn’t have all those resources. What we realized was, we didn’t have control over everything. Don’t try to steer the ship. Just be another guy on the ship. Do your job and keep going. They gave us everything we needed. It was up to us.”

The ship was a mighty cruiser Thursday in Game 5, when the Dodgers pounded the Cubs, 11-1, and won their first National League Championship Series since 1988, or just a few days after Wayne Gretzky played his first game for the Kings.

Kershaw set a nasty tone in the first inning and then Chris Taylor led off the first with a nine-pitch walk. When Cody Bellinger drove a ball into the right-field corner, third base coach Chris Woodward took a hard look and then waved Taylor home, where he arrived safely.

“Get an early run in a game like this and it relaxes everybody,” Woodward said. “But I know Chris and I’m not sure I would have sent anybody else.”

When Hernandez grand-slammed Quintana in the third, he and the dugout boiled over. Hernandez is grieving over conditions in Puerto Rico, and he spent last year agonizing over his father’s fight with cancer, which is currently observing a truce.

“I know there’s a real big God up there,” Hernandez said. “My goal right now is to get a real big headache, and then sleep it off on the way home.”

Kershaw, in his first chance to pitch the Dodgers into a World Series, gave the dispirited Cubs three hits in six innings.

“I don’t care about how many runs he had,” pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “We have asked him to do so much, so many times. Finally this year we had the rotation to where he didn’t have to pitch on short rest anymore. I’m not sure any starting pitcher today has done more for his team.”

“We’ve been here so often,” Kershaw said. “If we win the World Series, maybe I’ll retire. I just hope they (Houston and New York) play two more games and the last one goes about 37 innings.”

General Manager Andrew Friedman, who is from Houston, stood in a corner and put off the champagne baptism as long as he could. He had thought often about the Game 6 loss last year in Wrigley and the indignities therein. Then the Dodgers watched the Cubs get their rings in the first Wrigley Field series of this season.

“Some guys watched it from the dugout,” Friedman said. “What we wanted was to make the first team that comes to Dodger Stadium next year watch us do the same thing. And we still have one step to go.”

It was pointed out that Friedman, in one of his first actions, got Hernandez from Florida, along with Austin Barnes, in an unpopular deal that sent NL stolen base leader Dee Gordon to the Marlins.

“Yeah, I got him (Hernandez) just for nights like this,” he said, laughing, “so he could hit three home runs in Game 5. Or 6. Or whatever this is.”

Dodgers fans lost count long ago. At the moment the magic number is 29 and holding.

Read more about Whicker: Scenes from a wetting: Dodgers rejoice, reflect in Chicago This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. SaddleBack Valley Shredding Service

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Miller: Dodgers jump on Diamondbacks, then romp to Yasiel Puig’s antics

LOS ANGELES — His pursuit of postseason immortality lasted longer Friday than anyone would have dared dream.

Finally, Taijuan Walker buckled, striking out Curtis Granderson and ending his bid for an imperfect game.

Before that deflating development, the Dodgers were 4 for 4 with a walk against Arizona’s starter, who, let’s be honest, in Game 1 of this National League Division Series was more of a finisher.

By the time Walker was done – he lasted only one inning, one inning that required him to make 48 pitches en route to surrendering four runs – the Diamondbacks were done, too.

The Dodgers eventually won, 9-5, Arizona unable to overcome its early bottomless pit despite eventually hitting four homers off Clayton Kershaw, something that never before had happened to a Dodgers pitcher in the postseason.

For a team that will be dissatisfied closing with anything other than a World Series championship, the Dodgers certainly opened with a flourish, a game that lasted 3:37 essentially over in mere minutes.

“It’s just nice to jump on them early,” shortstop Corey Seager said. “It’s nice to get Game 1, get the momentum and move on from there.”

In an ideal world, Walker wouldn’t have been the Diamondbacks’ first choice to start this game. Or second choice.

No, in an ideal world, former Dodger Zack Greinke would have drawn this spot opposite Kershaw in a showdown of genuine No. 1s.

But, in an ideal world, Arizona wouldn’t wear uniforms that look like George Jetson’s pajamas, either.

As it was, Greinke started the game that brought the Diamondbacks here, their wild-card victory over Colorado.

Unfortunately for Arizona, Robbie Ray also was needed in that game in relief, leaving this start to Walker, who entered Friday without having as much as a winning regular-season record.

“That was a huge positive,” Seager said. “They had to throw their guys to advance. We got to heal up, rest and get ready.”

Walker was 9-9 in 2017 and, for his career, 31-31, the absolute picture – and, for that matter, pitcher – of mediocrity.

At age 25, he also was making his postseason debut, going up against a veteran who who has done just about everything in baseball except during October, a month that mostly has done onto him.

Still, having Kershaw in this matchup represented a monumental advantage for the Dodgers, one they seized so quickly and aggressively that they risked 50 simultaneous hamstring pulls.

“It’s hard to pitch to our lineup,” rookie Cody Bellinger said. “When we come out with a plan and we execute it, then good things happen.”

Loud things happen, too.

After Chris Taylor singled and Seager walked to start the bottom of the first, Justin Turner ripped a three-run homer estimated to have traveled 424 feet to left-center, holding his post-swing pose like a satisfied golfer.

It’s normally considered a bad sign for a starting pitcher to have more mound visits from a coach than outs recorded.

But suddenly, just three batters into the game, there was Arizona’s Mike Butcher, counseling Walker. Or perhaps just stalling, killing time hoping Dodger Stadium would stop swaying with raucous delight.

“That’s a big homer,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Big homer. We had a great offensive night. Obviously, you feel pretty good when Clayton’s on the mound.”

Up 3-0, Bellinger followed with a single and then scored on a double by Yasiel Puig, igniting more noise, burying Walker and the Diamondbacks under even more decibels.

Upon reaching second, Puig, apparently caught up in the chaos he had just helped create, executed what I believe is known as a double crotch-chop.

I do know the NFL once fined Carson Palmer for making a similar gesture. I’m not sure, however, where baseball stands on the matter.

Let’s just all agree, though, that it’s probably not a bad thing that, by the time Puig was self chopping, it was already approaching 11 p.m. for television viewers on the East Coast.

It also was getting awfully late for Walker, who didn’t secure his first out until his 38th pitch. By comparison, Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow later would get four outs on seven pitches.

Speaking of later, Puig punctuated a seventh-inning head-first slide on a triple by holding his mouth agape and wagging his tongue in the direction of the Dodgers’ dugout, a visual captured by cameras in graphic super slow-motion.

It was somewhat reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s famous tongue cameos, only with much more passion and far less grace.

For Dodgers fans, however, the moment was equally as signature, Puig and his teammates enjoying a playful romp over an opponent that, on this night especially, entered as overmatched and exited the same way.

“When I slide, that’s my reaction,” Puig explained. “I don’t know why. I feel maybe ice cream in front of me or something like that.”

Ice cream or a cream puff? Whatever, the Dodgers took full advantage and ate it up in Game 1.

What could be a long postseason feast started Friday with dessert.

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Whicker: Clayton Kershaw’s force field repels the bad vibes

LOS ANGELES >> This would be an example of what happens when vibes collide.

The Dodgers were starting Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday night. But they were also facing a left-handed pitcher, Colorado’s Tyler Anderson.

Those are equal and opposite forces. Would Dodger Stadium explode?

Not really. Matter defeated anti-matter, 4-2, which is to say Kershaw raised his record to 3-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.34.

Manager Dave Roberts found it important enough to use Kenley Jansen to get the final four outs, even though it’s April 19. The Dodgers had lost three consecutive games, felt they had a chance to win with Kershaw and didn’t want to put too much strut in the Rockies’ step. Colorado came into Wednesday with a 10-5 record.

“We know we can do it (against lefties),” Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke said afterward. “We’ve taken our walks, put together some good at-bats, gotten people into scoring position. It was just nice to break through.

“As a team, well, every team has its struggles. I’m sure if you talk to the guys who won the World Series last year, they’d probably tell you there were some things they could do better. Every team has its thing. We just need to continue to stick with approach and our work ethic. Tonight when we got up 4-1, I got the feeling we were going to do everything we could to win this game.”

Van Slyke hammered Anderson’s 2-and-2 pitch to left field for a home run in the Dodgers’ second, his first since last June 15. That tied it 1-1 after Colorado had produced only one run out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in its first inning.

With two on, Nolan Arenado singled to right. Third base coach Stu Cole, respectful of the Yasiel Puig factor, held up Charlie Blackmon. At that point you almost expected Kershaw to escape without a blemish, but after he struck out Carlos Gonzalez he gave up a one-out sacrifice fly to Mark Reynolds. Then Gerardo Parra struck out looking.

Chris Taylor, called up after Logan Forsythe went on the disabled list, led off the climactic fifth with a double, and Anderson threw poorly on Kershaw’s bunt to keep it going. Kike Hernandez’s double led to the three-run inning, and Jansen got a two-on, two-out fly ball from Reynolds in the eighth.

The Dodgers are hitting .218 against lefties, but four National League teams are worse. They hit .214 last year, and no NL team was worse. The reason you’re hearing rumors about Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, other than the fact there’s a lot of rumormongers out there, is that Braun is a .337 hitter against lefties for his career with a 1.038 OPS.

And, yeah, most of the left-handed pitchers in the league are pretty good. You wouldn’t think this should be such a hole in the Dodgers’ game. But Justin Turner hits 50 points lower (.250 to .300) against lefties for his career, and Puig hits 20 points lower. It helps when the Dodgers throw a left-hander that nobody can hit.

Van Slyke was asked to describe the feeling of a Kershaw day, when the winds are a little softer, and nothing but good songs come on the radio, and the stoplights change when you pull up.

“I don’t really know what to compare it to,” he told a couple of writers. “I guess it would be like watching your favorite reporter ask a question of somebody. I mean, there’s an art to doing that.

“You have an appreciation for what he does. It heightens everybody’s focus. That’s why he is who he is. He brings out the best in everybody.”

Except Kershaw didn’t bring out the best in himself, not on the exacting scale that he has established. “I think he’d tell you he didn’t really have his rhythm consistently,” Roberts said. “He labored at times.”

Kershaw gave up two leadoff doubles in the middle innings, escaping one jam by striking out Blackmon on a curve, but giving up an RBI single to rookie Stephen Cardullo, who had come in when Gonzalez was hit by a pitch.

Kershaw offered no argument when Roberts removed him, after 97 pitches and three trips through the lineup. A lot of that was respect for the Rockies’ production, too.

“They’ve played well before in April and May,” Van Slyke said. “In recent years they’ve had some injuries, and it’s tough to play in that ballpark, but they’ve got a really good bullpen now and their starters are better.”

There will be other collisions between polar opposites, but baseball physics usually abides by Kershaw’s Law.

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