The Dodgers’ celebration at Atlanta’s SunTrust Park on Monday was as much about checking off a box as it was what they had accomplished. They expected to advance to the National League Championship Series, to within four wins of another trip to the World Series, after last year’s disappointment. The path this season was rockier than anticipated, but anything less would’ve been a colossal letdown.
The party the Milwaukee Brewers had at Coors Field in Denver a day earlier had a different flavor. They weren’t projected to reach the NLCS. They play in baseball’s smallest market, an afterthought in Chicago’s shadow, and have one of the majors’ slimmest payrolls. It was their first playoff series victory since 2011, the last time they were in the playoffs. They went to the NLCS that year and lost. They haven’t won a World Series or even been to one since 1982. This is unfamiliar territory.
The Dodgers will play the Milwaukee Brewers in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series that begins on Friday at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Here is a quick look at how the two teams did against each other this season:
July 20, Dodgers 6, at Milwaukee 4. Winning pitcher — Rich Hill. Losing pitcher — Taylor Williams. Save —Kenley Jansen. Home runs — Dodgers: Enrique Hernandez. Milwaukee: Jesus Aguilar.
Recap: In his first game as a Dodger, Manny Machado singled twice and walked twice and the Dodgers got a three-run homer from Enrique Hernandez to win the first game after the All-Star break.
The Milwaukee Brewers won four more games than the Dodgers during their 163-game regular season. They boast the presumptive National League most valuable player in Christian Yelich and a dominant bullpen. They drubbed the Colorado Rockies in a three-game sweep, giving up only two runs, and will carry an 11-game winning streak into Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers on Friday night at Miller Park. They haven’t lost since Sept. 22.
But Yasiel Puig is confident. And, according to Puig, so are his teammates as they sit four victories away from a return to the World Series.
“We’re here for the sixth straight time,” Puig said after the Dodgers’ workout at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday evening. “Last year, we lost in the World Series and we want to get back in the World Series. I hope so. And my team is 100% sure that we’re going past [the Brewers] to the World Series again.”