The catcher and pitcher swaggered into each other's arms and were soon joined by a stream of sprinting, leaping teammates trying to storm their way into history.
It was a scene not of surprise, but strength. It was a moment not of unbridled joy, but fulfilled expectation.
The Dodgers have marched into the
What was completed at
It was the Dodgers defeating the
“It’s incredible,” said a goggled and champagne-soaked
After their first sweep of any sort during the previous five autumns, they are now four wins from a
So short, in fact, that a Dodger legend is planning on it. After attending all three of the Dodger victories, Sandy Koufax was already mapping out his next visit.
"I'll be be back Oct. 24," said Koufax Monday, standing outside a visiting clubhouse filled with champagne showers and bear hugs.
The date of Game 1 of the World Series? Yep, Oct. 24.
"I really believe they're going to get there," said Koufax. "Why not? This is a very impressive team."
They were so impressive, they didn't need to make a big splash about it. No, the Dodgers didn't swim in the Chase Field swimming pool Monday like they did when they clinched their first of five consecutive division titles here in 2013. The Diamondbacks dispatched police horses to guard the structure, just in case.
This time the Dodgers did something more compelling. They symbolically drained that pool, drop by drop, wearing down the Diamondbacks pitchers with endless plate appearances, ball one, ball two, foul, strike two, ball three, foul, again and again and again.
"It was the best three games of team offense in a row that I've ever seen,'" said Farhan Zaidi, general manager. "Certainly in a playoff scenario."
In the end, they even wore down the Arizona fans. Yes, those were "Let's Go Dodgers" chants that ultimately swept the building as the Dodgers' swam only in bubbly.
"One down, two to go," said owner Mark Walter. "The sweep is big."
It was big and relentless and painstaking and perfect. It was about reverting to the style of play that won 52 out of 61 games at one point this summer. It was about rediscovering their focus, and bringing back the fun.
This was a Diamondbacks team with the third-most regular season wins in the National League — their 93 victories were one better than the
This was a Diamondbacks team that had won 11 of 19 games against the Dodgers in the series, yet they often seemed unsettled and overmatched.
The Dodger offense touched the three Arizona starters for 11 runs in 10 1/3 innings, including a five-inning jabbing of former Dodger
Typical of their attack was a first inning that wore out Greinke before the Diamondbacks even came to the plate. It began with Chris Taylor's two-strike double and ended with Yasiel Puig's 10-pitch flyout and in between, a run scored on a grounder.
"It's not about one guy going out carrying the team,'' said Turner. "It's a different guy every night.''
Typical of their individual efforts was the rejuvenated play of struggling Cody Bellinger, who recorded his first postseason extra-base hit with a homer in the top of the fifth, then ended the bottom of the fifth by flopping into the Dodgers dugout while catching Jeff Mathis' foul ball.
It only figured that manager Dave Roberts' eyes were wide with panic when Bellinger came over the rail, then Roberts quickly rushed to his aid. It was, after all, Roberts who picked the rookie up with a pep talk before his earlier homer.
"He kind of pulled me aside and said, 'Listen, you picked us up all year, we'll get you right here. Next at-bat, don't try to do too much,'" Bellinger recalled. "So I kind of took that and ran with it."
Positively, this was a great game for Roberts, whose dugout deftness has sometimes been lost in the glory grabbed by his players. On Monday, his bold philosophies were on full display, when pulled Darvish after just 74 pitches, just in time for
Yes, this is the same Maeda who only appeared out of the bullpen four times during a season in which he made 25 starts. But moved into a relief role during the postseason, he has shined.
"This team is different from our other ones because of our confidence in each other," said veteran Andre Ethier, who has played on all five consecutive division title squads. "There was never a doubt. Even coming to Arizona, we knew we would figure out a way."
For sure, the Diamondbacks didn't come close, and while the Dodgers playoff power was perhaps unfamiliar to newer Dodger fans, it contained a feeling that longtime Los Angeles sports fans know well.
This was only three games, but it was filled with the dominance the Lakers displayed in 2001 in winning their first 11 playoff games during the height of their dynasty.
This was only a few days, but it contained the deep strength shown by the Kings in 2012, when they won 15 of their first 17 Stanley Cup playoff games as they burst into national prominence.
The Dodgers will now move to a rematch with one of their playoff opponents from last season. Beginning Saturday at
The Dodgers defeated the Nationals in five taut games in last year's NLDS, then lost to the Cubs in the NLCS, but both teams seem vulnerable this season. Neither can match the Dodgers' lineup depth and pitching staff, and here's guessing the team that just got swept would agree.
How tough have these three nights been for the Diamondbacks?
When Arizona reliever
The Dodgers now proceed toward what they hope will be the valley of the shadow of history.