Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed increased confidence that shortstop Corey Seager will be ready for the World Series, should the Dodgers advance.
Seager played catch Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. He is scheduled to take swings off a batting tee Thursday, which is considered a significant test of his injured lower back. Seager sprained a muscle in his back during the division series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and was left off the Dodgers’ roster for the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.
“It’s progressing, obviously, in the right direction,” Roberts said.
Seager has been exercising the last two days. The team elected to leave him in Los Angeles, rather than risk aggravating his back on the flight to Chicago. Roberts watched video of Seager’s workouts. Roberts felt encouraged by Seager’s ability to rotate his hips and back in exercises.
“Just seeing him run is a good thing,” Roberts said.
With Seager out, the Dodgers have rotated Chris Taylor and Charlie Culberson at shortstop. Culberson started against left-handed pitchers during the first two games against the Cubs; Taylor started against right-handed pitchers in the next two games.
Could it happen again?
In 2004, when Roberts played for the Boston Red Sox, his stolen base in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series sparked a comeback for the ages. The New York Yankees had won the first three games of the series, but the Red Sox won the next four.
“I think that was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Roberts said before Wednesday’s game. “Teams can’t do that anymore.” Then he winked.
Dodgers relief pitchers retired 10 of the 12 batters they faced in Game 4, meaning they have allowed six baserunners while facing 48 batters this series.
Ross Stripling, who in his first NLCS appearance in Game 3 gave up hits to the only batters he faced — the Cubs’ only two hits against the Dodgers bullpen before Wednesday — got all three batters he faced in Game 4.
Tony Watson struck out the only hitter he faced, and Kenta Maeda threw a three-up-three-down inning before Tony Cingrani hit a batter and gave up a hit in his two-thirds of a frame. Josh Fields got the only batter he faced.
To hit or not to hit
Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana and manager Joe Maddon both were asked whether they sensed any panic in the clubhouse with the team down 3-0 in the series.
Both said no. But Maddon, typically relaxed and in a good mood during his media session before Game 4, said it humorously — and pointedly.
“It’s not about panic or not panic,” he said. “It’s about hitting or not hitting. It’s really — that’s the question, Mr. Shakespeare. We’ve got to start hitting the ball. It’s not complicated.”
The Cubs scored nine runs in their tumultuous Game 5 NLDS win over the Washington Nationals. They have scored 15 in their eight other playoff games.
All seven runs they have scored against the Dodgers have come on home runs.
Andre Ethier, who started in left field for the second consecutive game, has played in 46 playoff games, three back of the Dodgers record held by Bill Russell. … The Dodgers have not swept a playoff opponent in a seven-game series since blanking the New York Yankees in the 1963 World Series, the only 4-0 sweep in franchise history. The Dodgers have won 22 National League championships, one behind the San Francisco Giants’ NL-record 23.
Times staff writer Mike Hiserman contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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