10/20/09 1:42 PM ET
Sarah's Take: Get the NLCS back to LA
Dodgers counting on Padilla in Game 5 on Wednesday
By Sarah D. Morris / Special to MLB.com
Although the Dodgers haven't given up when things have looked bad for them this year, nothing has looked this bad. During this series, the Phillies have dominated the Dodgers' pitchers. The Dodgers' strength during the season had been their bullpen. In this series, two of their most consistent relievers, George Sherrill and Broxton, have allowed five runs in games that the Dodgers could have won if their relievers could have quieted the Phillies.
Yes, the Dodgers could have scored more, possibly giving their pitchers more room for error. However, they have faced two former Cy Young Award winners in Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee, and both were dominating. I don't think any team could have scored much against them.
Manny Ramirez hasn't done much in this series, and this has hurt the Dodgers. He usually has risen to the occasion during his long career, and the Dodgers counted on his usual stellar performance during the playoffs. In this series, he has been chasing pitches out of the strike zone, setting a bad example for his young teammates. It looks like he wants to be a hero, and he doesn't have that ability anymore. If he could play his game without worrying about his old power, the Dodgers would be better off.
Going into the series, the Dodgers had a good idea that Andre Ethier would be challenged because he doesn't like to hit against left-handers. The Phillies' pitching staff mostly has left-handed starters. Ethier has struggled. However, he has contributed to the offense.
Although the Dodgers haven't hit well with runners in scoring position during this series, Monday night they did. Hopefully on Wednesday, they will again.
The Dodgers have had problems with their starting rotation throughout the year. I felt funny writing about those problems when they had the best pitching in the National League. However, I could see them losing in the playoffs with their poor pitching.
During the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers received two great starting pitching performances. Vicente Padilla was splendid in his 7 1/3 innings on Friday, and that game is the game that the Dodgers won. Randy Wolf, despite allowing a two-run homer in the first, gave the Dodgers what they needed to win in Game 4, and their offense supported his gallant effort. Clayton Kershaw just had nerves, typical for a 21-year-old kid making his second start in the playoffs. Hiroki Kuroda had not pitched in the Major Leagues since Sept. 28, when he didn't pitch well at all against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
If Joe Torre had more confidence in Chad Billingsley or Jon Garland to start in the playoffs, the results might have been different, but baseball is always filled with "what ifs."
This year, the Dodgers have captured their fans' imaginations with their incredible ability to come back when it looks improbable. They must do it again. During the postseason, the Dodgers haven't committed an error, and this must continue. Padilla, the starter for Game 5, needs to repeat his stellar performance from Friday. The Dodgers must hit and score often to take the loud and enthusiastic Philadelphia crowd out of the game. If they can do this, the NLCS will move back to Los Angeles, where they will get encouragement from their fans. If they can't, for the second consecutive year, the Phillies will eliminate the Dodgers from the playoffs, and that will leave a bad taste.
I think the Dodgers can win Game 5.
Sarah D. Morris is the editor of Sarah's Dodger Place. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.