Cubs

Dodgers join Cubs in postseason, clinch third straight NL West title

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Dodgers join Cubs in postseason, clinch third straight NL West title

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Clayton Kershaw pitched the big-money Dodgers to their third straight NL West title, tossing a one-hitter as Los Angeles beat the San Francisco Giants 8-0 on Tuesday night.

Kershaw allowed just a third-inning single and struck out 13, and now he'll get a chance to erase those sour postseason memories as the Dodgers (88-69) advance to face the NL East champion New York Mets in a best-of-five Division Series.

Kershaw (16-7) finally got the best of his 2015 nemesis in the fourth matchup of the year against World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, striking out the side in order three times and retiring the final 19 batters as the Dodgers snapped a four-game losing streak.

"There's a little bit, if you don't win this one then you've got two more and you start getting a little nervous, you start panicking a little bit," Kershaw said. "We've still got something to play for. We're still trying to fight the Mets for home-field advantage. It's kind of a sigh of relief. We weren't playing that well."

Don Mattingly's Dodgers earned a third straight playoff berth for the first time in franchise history, and did so by snapping a seven-game losing streak at AT&T Park this year. It's also their sixth postseason berth in 10 years.

When Kelby Tomlinson grounded out to end it and rookie shortstop Corey Seager made a nice throw to first, Kershaw raised both arms in the air as his teammates streamed out of the dugout. They all began hugging and dancing on the mound.

"He knows what he needs to do against these guys," catcher A.J. Ellis said.

The Giants immediately offered a message on the main scoreboard: "CONGRATULATIONS, L.A. DODGERS! (hash)RESPECTTHERIVALRY"

Los Angeles players stayed on the field for several minutes, pulling on their new NL West champion caps.

Justin Ruggiano and Ellis hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth to chase Bumgarner (18-9), denying the Giants their first 19-game winner in 18 years.

Andre Ethier added a two-run triple in a four-run eighth, and Los Angeles captured its 14th NL West title and earned their 29th playoff berth - 20th in Los Angeles. Ellis and Seager added run-scoring singles that inning.

Los Angeles lost a four-game division series to St. Louis last October and the club hasn't reached the World Series since winning it all in 1988, losing in either the division series or NL Championship Series in its last eight postseason appearances since.

Now, with two of the top pitchers in the game - Zack Greinke and Kershaw - stellar rookies such as Seager and outfielder Joc Pederson, veteran infielder Jimmy Rollins and August acquisition Chase Utley leading a loaded bench, the Dodgers are counting on a deep October run.

"It's a fun mix, it's a talented mix and hopefully it's the right mix," Kershaw said.

They got this far with huge expectations under first-year President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, and new general manager Farhan Zaidi - and with a whopping regular-season payroll of $285 million.

It took a few days longer than expected to secure their latest playoff berth after a surprising sweep by last-place Colorado at Coors Field over the weekend and a 12-inning loss Monday night. But, the way it worked out, the Dodgers got to celebrate on the home field of their rival at sold-out AT&T Park.

"They've won three out of the last five," Mattingly said. "You've got to earn it."

The only other time in the ballpark's 16-year history that a visiting team clinched a playoff berth or series here was the Dodgers when they captured the NL wild card on the second-to-last day in 2006.

Before the game, an impatient fan yelled to Los Angeles reliever Kenley Jansen, "Stop messing around!" To which Jansen fired back from the dugout: "We're not messing around. We tried to clinch 3 days ago."

The Dodgers ended their longest skid in San Francisco since June 12, 1961-April 16, 1962, when they lost a franchise-worst nine straight road games in the rivalry.

Kevin Frandsen's one-out single in the third was the Giants' first baserunner against Kershaw.

But the defending champion Giants miss the playoffs in another odd year following a World Series win for the third time in six years - after their 2010, `12 and `14 titles.

Bumgarner allowed Justin Turner's first-inning sacrifice fly and a leadoff homer to Kike Hernandez in the third.

The big lefty had been 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA in his previous 2015 outings opposing Kershaw, who had gone 0-2 with a 3.54 ERA in those starts.

He won't forget watching the Dodgers celebrate here.

"You take that, and you remember that feeling going into the offseason. It's not a good feeling," he said. "You don't want to be a part of that. You want to be the one celebrating. You let it give you a little bit of fuel for next year."

Yu Darvish suffering another setback puts his 2018 season in jeopardy

Yu Darvish suffering another setback puts his 2018 season in jeopardy

Yu have to be kidding me (Sorry, couldn't resist). 

The Cubs were expecting Sunday's rehab start to be the beginning to an end of what has been an extremely disappointing 2018 season for their $126 million man Yu Darvish. Darvish was scheduled to start Sunday for the Cubs single-A affiliate in South Bend, IN, but after just one inning Darvish was checked on by the trainers and eventually pulled before the 2nd inning started. 

According to Steve Greenberg, Darvish asked for an MRI on Monday which likely closes the door on him returning to the Cubs in 2018.

The frustrating thing about Darvish's rehab is that in his two rehab starts, the 32-year-old pitcher has had excellent stuff, touching 95 mph in Sunday afternoon's game before being pulled. 

At this point in the season, it seems unlikely Darvish will be able to return to the Cubs rotation for the regular season. And it would be incredibly risky to roll with Darvish in the playoffs, who even when healthy hasn't shown he's deserving of a postseason roster spot. The Cubs do have options at starter in the minors like Duane Underwood or James Norwood, and despite his shortcomings, Tyler Chatwood is an option out of necessity now.  

Drew Smyly, who looked like a possibility as a late-season addition, is still not quite ready to come back and be an effective rotation piece at the moment. And with Mike Montgomery heading to the disabled list earlier this week, the Cubs were hopeful Darvish would be healthy by the time rosters expand in September. 

Luckily, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, and Kyle Hendricks have all looked stellar recently and hopefully can continue their success on the mound as the Cubs continue to fight past injuries to maintain their grasp on the NL Central. 

But Theo Epstein said himself last week that if Darvish didn't perform well during his rehab stint, that was essentially his 2018 season. Don't expect to see Darvish returning to the mound until 2019, Cubs fans. 

 

 

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 48th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 48th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 48th homer of the season came off of the St. Louis Cardinals on August 19, 1998, in a 6-8 loss.

With two-outs, Sosa sent a deep shot off of Kent Bottenfield.

The home run was even more special for Sosa, due to it coming against the Cardinals and Mark McGwire, his home run adversary for the year. 

In the game Sosa went 2-for-4 with two RBI, the exact same stat line McGwire finished with.