GAME 1: Dodgers 9, Arizona 5
Headline: Dodgers regain their summer swagger
A four-run, first-inning blitz against a jittery pitcher set the tone. Justin Turner bashed a three-run homer, en route to tying a playoff franchise record with a five-RBI night. Corey Seager scored three runs and delivered a tension-easing RBI triple in the eighth. And Yasiel Puig provided the lasting memory of the evening, wagging his tongue like mad as he dived into third base for a triple, delivering an image to match a game in which he collected two hits, drove in two runs and licked at least one bat.
The levity of the summer seeped into October. The offensive outburst came at an ideal time, as the calendar turned to the postseason.
Handed the lead, Clayton Kershaw towed his team into the seventh inning before a fusillade ended his night. Arizona walloped a quartet of solo home runs against Kershaw, the most allowed by any Dodger in postseason franchise history. Two came in the seventh, on back-to-back pitches to shortstop Ketel Marte and catcher Jeff Mathis.
Kershaw finished with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. The barrage sent a scare through the ballpark, but it could not offset the Dodgers' early charge.
They said it: "He's done that all season. It doesn't seem like the most sanitary thing to do, but if it keeps getting him hits, I hope he does it more." — Clayton Kershaw, on Yasiel Puig's habit of licking his bat.
By the numbers: Arizona’s
Bill Plaschke: On an early October night that appropriately felt like a warm July afternoon, the Dodgers began their long-awaited postseason Friday with a raucous, rollicking flashback. Remember when everyone thought they could be the best team in baseball history? Before everyone thought they were the worst team in baseball history? Well, after a few hours of brilliant hitting, sturdy pitching and serious snake crushing, everyone can feel free to jump back on the belief wagon.
GAME 2: Dodgers 8, Arizona 5
Headline: It's a hit sequel for Dodgers
Hill sought to counteract the encroaching dread with a hand-crafted message: "Make Some Noise."
The crowd caught Hill's drift. The cheers gathered in volume as the Dodgers mounted a rally. As if on cue, a grounder from Chris Taylor rolled through the legs of Arizona shortstop Ketel Marte. A run scored, the stadium popped, and the Dodgers had enough to hang on for an 8-5 victory to capture a 2-0 lead in this series.
After four years of postseason heartbreak, perhaps these Dodgers are different. The offense has reduced the Diamondbacks' pitching staff to dust over the last 18 innings. Arizona has launched six home runs, but remains on the verge of elimination.
In Game 1, the Dodgers bruised the Diamondbacks for nine runs. A day later, the offense toppled Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray, a man who entered the game with an ownership deed for the Dodgers in his back pocket. Ray lasted 4 1/3 innings, yielded four runs and exited on the hook for a defeat.
Maligned for so much of September, the back half of the lineup carried the Dodgers. Logan Forsythe scored three runs. Yasiel Puig collected three hits. Curtis Granderson hopped off the bench to extend a four-run blitz with a single in the fifth inning. Austin Barnes scored twice and roped a critical two-run double in the fifth.
They said it: "The regular season doesn't matter anymore. But we were the best team in baseball for a reason. We feel that way again. It was just about getting our swagger back." — Enrique Hernandez.
By the numbers: The Dodgers' Nos. 6-8 hitters went 8 for 12 with four RBIs.
Bill Plaschke: His name has become a song, a deep-throated anthem lasting only three seconds yet big enough to engulf a city enraptured by its lyric. "Puiiiiig''…. Puiiiiig.'' One night after the stealing the show in a Game 1 victory by wagging his tongue, Puig thrilled the house again Saturday by wagging his bat, flexing his arms, screaming for more. In the Dodgers' 8-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Puig knocked in a run with a grounder, kept alive a scoring inning with a single, knocked in another run with another single, then added an infield single that eventually led to yet another run.
GAME 3: Dodgers 3, Arizona 1
Andy McCullough: Dave Roberts wore a smile on his face and held a can of Coors Light in his hand. He stood a few feet away from madness, a rising tide of Budweiser and Korbel Brut floating across the floor of the visitors clubhouse at Chase Field, the sight of a 3-1 Dodgers victory to sweep Arizona out of the National League Division Series.
Roberts stayed out of the fray. A few specks dotted his goggles. Otherwise he was dry, hanging back, greeting players, coaches and executives as they escaped the chaos in the middle of the room.
The moment belonged to the players. The night belonged to Roberts, who manipulated this game as if it was his own personal marionette, pulling each string with the proper force at the proper time. In a postseason already littered with managers undone by indecision and miscalculation, Roberts offered a rejoinder: At least one man knows what he is doing.
Roberts could not ensure a victory on his own. Cody Bellinger barreled over a dugout railing and blasted a home run. Austin Barnes sent Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke to the showers with a sixth-inning homer. Yu Darvish struck out seven in five innings of one-run baseball, but Roberts opened his bullpen when Darvish lost his control in the sixth. The Dodgers survived an 0-for-10 night with runners in scoring position by limiting Arizona to only three hits.
On the back of these relievers, the Dodgers completed their first postseason sweep since downing St. Louis in the first round of the 2009 playoffs.
They said it: "When a manager can make it seem like all the pieces fit together perfectly, that's when you know he's really done a great job, using the whole roster and strategizing to the absolute maximum. He did an amazing job." — Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi on Dave Roberts.
By the numbers: Yu Darvish gave up only two hits and struck out seven in five innings.
Bill Plaschke: These Dodgers have been here before, but never like this. The Dodgers have marched into the National League Championship Series twice before during their current five-year postseason streak, but never with such quiet intensity and blunt force. What was completed at Chase Field here Monday night was more than a sweep, it was a stampede. It was a steamrolling. Or it was, if you want to believe Yasiel Puig, an absolute licking.
Dylan Hernandez: Zack Greinke's role in the Diamondbacks' demise can't be understated. No player on either team was as responsible for the Dodgers' three-game sweep in this National League Division Series. What Madison Bumgarner did in leading the San Francisco Giants to the World Series in 2014, Greinke did the exact opposite over the past week. So this is about as good a time as any to concede that Andrew Friedman was right when he decided to not re-sign him two years ago.