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The Sports Report: Dodgers win a Game 3 laugher

Dodgers celebrate after sweeping the Padres in the NLDS.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The San Diego Padres, the upstart club oozing talent and swagger, were supposed to be the tallest obstacle on the path to another trip to the World Series for the Dodgers.

They were poised to prove they belonged in October and could challenge for the pennant. But they were short-handed, without their two best starting pitchers, for the teams’ National League Division Series and the Dodgers showed no mercy.

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The Dodgers steamrolled the Padres, completing a three-game sweep with a 12-3 win in Game 3 at Globe Life Field on Thursday to keep their undefeated postseason record intact. They advanced to face the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. Game 1 is Monday, also at Globe Life Park. Los Angeles, the National League’s top seed, will be the home team on a nine-game winning streak.

One of the looming questions for the Dodgers entering this series this: Would they, after leading the majors with 118 home runs during the regular season, struggle to score in this home-run-depressing ballpark? This place plays big. The Dodgers saw firsthand when they visited in late August.

The answer was no. They slugged one homer in the three games but scored 23 runs. They took their walks. They moved runners with singles the other way. They cracked doubles to the gaps. They lifted sacrifice flies, forced errors, and even executed a crucial double-steal in Game 2. They manufactured runs by applying constant pressure. They adjusted their method of offensive destruction.

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Dylan Hernández: Dodgers stay perfect in postseason, but their ominous closer situation looms

Dodgers play the percentages with their pitching strategy vs. Padres

How Cody Bellinger’s father celebrated his son’s home run-robbing catch is so 2020

Dave Roberts isn’t committing to ditching Kenley Jansen as Dodgers’ closer

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Got the Belli shot! Times photographer Robert Gauthier on capturing Cody Bellinger’s catch

Dodgers-Padres schedule
All times Pacific
All game at Arlington, Texas
Dodgers are home team for Games 1, 2 and 5

Game 1: Dodgers 5, San Diego 1
Game 2: Dodgers 6, San Diego 5
Game 3: Dodgers 12, San Diego 3

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LAKERS

Tania Ganguli on the Lakers: The year was 2018 when a reporter in a scrum asked the NBA’s biggest star on Sept. 28 how he would gain the respect of fans in Los Angeles.

“Who, me?” LeBron James said, bemused. “Me?”

“Yes, you,” the reporter replied.

“Huh?” James said, to laughter. Then he smiled. “I signed a four-year deal. How much more — what do you want me to do?”

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Over the next two years, James began to understand the answer to the question he posed. Lakers fans wanted him to win a championship.

“What I’ve learned being a Laker is that the Laker faithful don’t give a damn what you’ve done before,” James said on Thursday. “… They don’t care about your résumé at all until you become a Laker. Then you’ve got to do it as a Laker, and then they respect you. I’ve learned that.”

James will have a chance on Friday to accomplish the only goal that matters to many L.A. fans when the Lakers play the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals with a 3-1 series lead. With one more win, they will secure the franchise’s 17th championship, and the first since Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol led the Lakers to a title over the Boston Celtics in 2010.

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NBA FINALS
All times Pacific
Lakers vs. Miami

Game 1: Lakers 116, Miami 98
Game 2: Lakers 124, Miami 114
Game 3: Miami 115, Lakers 104
Game 4: Lakers 102, Miami 96
Game 5: Tonight, 6 p.m., ABC
Game 6*: Sunday, 4:30 p.m., ABC
Game 7*: Tuesday, 6 p.m., ABC

*-if necessary

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CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: Anthony Lynn spent the past two-plus weeks insisting Tyrod Taylor would return as the Chargers’ starting quarterback.

But three games of Justin Herbert changed the coach’s mind and the franchise’s direction.

Before taking any questions Thursday on a videoconference with the media, Lynn announced Herbert would remain the team’s starter moving forward, beginning Monday night in New Orleans.

I like to be decisive,” Lynn said. “I take my time … I don’t want to overreact initially. I wanted this to play out. I’ve seen enough, and I just wanted to go ahead and make it official.”

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“It was difficult,” Lynn said of demoting the 10-year veteran, “because it wasn’t something of his own doing.”

Lynn explained Taylor “did not take it well” when informed of the decision because of his competitiveness and desire to continue guiding the Chargers offense. But Lynn praised Taylor’s professionalism and said he expected Taylor to support Herbert and “lead by example” as the team’s only unanimously selected captain.

“It was difficult under these circumstances,” Lynn said. “But I just, after three weeks of watching Justin, this is why we brought him here, to be our franchise quarterback. I just feel like it’s time now.”

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: As the NFL’s eighth-rated passer through four games, Rams quarterback Jared Goff has demonstrated good mobility, improved strength in the pocket and a deft touch on short and mid-range passes.

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Receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp have scored on catch-and-run plays, Kupp’s covering 55 yards to clinch last Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants.

Goff, however, has yet to air out many deep passes.

“I just haven’t had necessarily the opportunities there,” Goff, who has a 108.1 passer rating, told reporters during a videoconference this week. “We hope to, but, haven’t had to up to this point.”

With a 3-1 record heading into Sunday’s game at Washington, it’s not as if the Rams seventh-ranked offense has suffered without Goff taking the deep shots that were part of the Rams’ highly productive units in 2017 and 2018.

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Those teams featured Woods and Kupp, but also Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks, players that in part received massive contracts from the Kansas City Chiefs and Rams, respectively, for the mere threat of burning defenses deep.

Coach Sean McVay said the decision to go deep is “a week-to-week thing” based on coverages defenses present.

“We’ve called some of those shot — it’s just a matter of whether we’ve thrown them or not,” McVay said Thursday, adding that Rams had opportunities against the Buffalo Bills and the Giants. “There’s definitely some guys that are pushing, that are going down the field and it’s really not any different than it’s been in years past.”

MLB PLAYOFFS

All times Pacific
NL Division Series

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Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins
all games at Houston

Game 1: Atlanta 9, Miami 5
Game 2: Atlanta 2, Miami 0
Game 3: Atlanta 7, Miami 0

AL Division Series

Houston Astros vs. Oakland A’s
all games at Los Angeles

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Game 1: Houston 10, Oakland 5
Game 2: Houston 5, Oakland 2
Game 3: Oakland 9, Houston 7
Game 4: Houston 11, Oakland 6

Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees
all games at San Diego
Tampa Bay is home team in Games 1, 2, and 5

Game 1: New York 9, Tampa Bay 3
Game 2: Tampa Bay 7, New York 5
Game 3: Tampa Bay 8, New York 4
Game 4: New York 5, Tampa Bay 1
Game 5: Friday, 4 p.m., TBS

*-if necessary

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TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Lakers vs. Miami, 6 p.m., ABC

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1943 — Bob Hoernschemeyer throws six touchdown passes, an NCAA record for a freshman, as Indiana beats Nebraska 54-13.

1965 — The United States wins the Ryder Cup 19½-12½ at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England. Arnold Palmer clinches the title, beating Peter Butler 2 up. It’s the 13th victory for the Americans in this event which began in 1927. Britain, winners of this event three times, last won in 1957.

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1974 — The Washington Capitals lose their first NHL game, 6-3 to the Rangers at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

1982 — Al Del Greco kicks six field goals for all of Auburn’s points in an 18-3 triumph over Kentucky.

1983 — Buffalo’s Joe Ferguson passes for 419 yards and five touchdowns in an 38-35 overtime win against Miami. Uwe Von Schamann of the Dolphins misses two field goals in the overtime and Joe Danelo ends the game with a 36-yard field goal.

1991 — The San Jose Sharks chalk up their first NHL victory as they beat the Calgary Flames 4-3.

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1993 — Minnesota’s Scott Eckers passes for 402 yards and a school-record six touchdowns in his first collegiate start as the Gophers beat Purdue 59-56.

1993 — Carey Bender rushes 33 times for 417 yards, setting an NCAA all-division single-game rushing record, in Coe’s 69-7 Division III victory over Grinnell.

2004 — Texas Tech beats Nebraska 70-10, the worst lost in the Cornhuskers’ storied 114-year history.

2004 — Texas loses to Oklahoma 12-0, getting shut out for the first time in 282 games and ending the longest streak in the country.

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2005 — Chris Burke hits a home run in the bottom of the 18th inning and Roger Clemens pitches three scoreless innings of relief in Houston’s 7-6, series-ending victory over Atlanta in the NLDS. The longest postseason game in history takes 5 hours, 50 minutes to complete.

2010 — Mike Brinkley passes for six touchdowns and Armond Smith runs for five scores to lead Union (Ky.) in a high-scoring 84-55 victory over Bethel (Tenn.) in an NAIA football game.

2010 — Derek Stepan becomes the fourth player to score three times in his NHL debut to lead the New York Rangers to a season-opening 6-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

2011 — Sebastian Janikowski kicks four field goals, including three from at least 50 yards (54, 55, 50), in Oakland’s 25-20 win over Houston. Houston’s Matt Schaub throws for 416 yards and two touchdowns.

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2011 — The NHL returns to Winnipeg, but Carey Price stops 30 shots and the Montreal Canadiens put a damper on a massive civic celebration with a 5-1 victory over the Jets.

2012 — Jerry Sandusky is sentenced to at least 30 years in prison in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to coach Joe Paterno’s downfall.

2015 — Sepp Blatter, still hoping to return to power as FIFA president, is banned for 90 days, essentially ending his 17-year reign as the leader of soccer’s governing body. Both Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini are given 90-day bans in the wake of a Swiss criminal case investigating financial misconduct at FIFA.

2016 — Tom Brady looking razor-sharp at times and relatively rust-free after serving his four-game “Deflategate” suspension, passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns to Martellus Bennett as the New England Patriots thump the Cleveland Browns 33-13.

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And finally

Another look at Cody Bellinger’s amazing catch in Game 2. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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