.@tai_walker will get the start for @Dbacks in first game of NLDS vs. #Dodgers. Catcher Chris Iannetta explains what to expect. pic.twitter.com/JcdiqTBv5P
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) October 6, 2017
Post-game show: Immediately following game, FOX Sports Arizona and FOX Sports GO
LOS ANGELES — When the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the first of their five consecutive NL West titles in Phoenix four years ago, they infamously celebrated by jumping into the Chase Field pool, angering a few Arizona Diamondbacks and their fans.
According to Paul Goldschmidt, anybody looking for long-simmering hard feelings from that drama in the teams’ upcoming NL division series is all wet.
“I don’t think anyone cared then, and nobody cares now,” the Diamondbacks’ veteran first baseman said Thursday at Dodger Stadium. “When you win, you get to celebrate, and that’s awesome. That was my feeling back then. Those guys beat us. They won the division. Now they’ve done it five years in a row.”
Indeed, that pool party is a puddle in distant memory for the current players in this division rivalry, which finally gets an October chapter in Game 1 on Friday night. Arizona spent most of the season pursuing the Dodgers in the NL West standings, meeting 19 times and forging a mutual respect that outweighs any enmity.
The Diamondbacks did a little celebrating of their own Wednesday after their incredible 11-8 victory over Colorado in the wild-card game. Both teams agree Arizona heads into this best-of-five series with more momentum than the 104-win Dodgers, who finished with the best record in baseball even after meandering through a late 1-16 skid.
.@JDMartinez14 with @Jody_Jackson: @Dbacks not intimidated by lack of playoff experience. #NLDS #Dbacks Join us for postgame coverage. pic.twitter.com/6B0THWgsnu
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) October 6, 2017
Before Clayton Kershaw takes the mound against Taijuan Walker in Game 1, the Dodgers intend to make sure everybody knows these regular-season achievements are meaningless for a team that still hasn’t reached the World Series since 1988.
“I feel like winning the NL West five years in a row leads to complacency, especially for this team, for this organization, even for the fans,” said Andre Ethier, an outfielder on seven previous Dodgers playoff teams since 2006. “You really haven’t achieved anything. It doesn’t matter how many games you win. It’s getting to the playoffs and winning the World Series.
“For the organization, it’s about changing that frame of mind coming in,” Ethier added. “There’s no banners hanging out there saying that we’re the NL West champions five years in a row. The only banners you see out there are World Series championships. So a 104-win season, 90-win seasons, they don’t mean nothing unless you’re winning. No one is going to remember in five years if this team won 104 (games) if we don’t win the World Series.”
Here are more things to know about these clubs’ first postseason meeting:
KERSH AGAIN: Kershaw gets another chance to fashion a signature postseason performance when he takes the mound for the opener. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 career postseason games, but the left-hander went 2-1 last year and pitched memorably in relief while the Dodgers reached the NLCS. Manager Dave Roberts has repeatedly said doesn’t intend to use Kershaw in relief during this October, but Kershaw knows nothing is certain in the postseason.
“Every year is unique, but I’m thankful for another opportunity,” Kershaw said. “It doesn’t happen often when your team wins five (division titles) in a row and you get to go to the playoffs.”
ONE LEG UP: The Diamondbacks were one of just two teams to win their season series with mighty Los Angeles, going 11-8 — including wins in the final six meetings during the Dodgers’ late-season slump. Nobody in either clubhouse ascribes much significance to those numbers, but the Diamondbacks aren’t awed by the Dodgers’ resourceful lineup or their occasionally dominant pitching staff.
“There’s familiarity, but I think there’s hopefully a lot of respect,” Goldschmidt said. “I know we respect them.”
BIG BATS: Rookie slugger Cody Bellinger will make his postseason debut for the Dodgers after setting an NL record with 39 homers in a remarkable regular season. Bellinger grew up in the Phoenix area, and he batted a measly 7 for 39 with one homer against the Diamondbacks this season. Los Angeles doesn’t depend on one hitter, but consistency from their precocious cleanup hitter would be huge.
Goldschmidt remains the Diamondbacks’ best bat with a 120-RBI season, but David Peralta and Jake Lamb have made solid contributions to a lineup that scored 42 more runs than the Dodgers during the regular season.
ZACK’S BACK: Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke likely won’t pitch against his former team until Game 3 in Phoenix after starting the wild-card game. Greinke left the Dodgers two years ago for a six-year, $206.5 million deal in Arizona. He won 51 games in three seasons with Los Angeles and pitched in three postseasons, going 2-2 in six starts.
LOCAL GUYS: Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo is a Los Angeles-area native, and Game 1 starter Taijuan Walker grew up in LA’s far-flung suburbs. Walker was a late choice for the start after Robbie Ray was forced to pitch in relief of Greinke against the Rockies. Walker called it the biggest start of his life, and he plans to get tickets for his mother, wife, brothers and sister. “Everyone else is kind of on their own,” Walker said with a laugh.
D-backs vs. Dodgers at a glance
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Friday, at Los Angeles, 10:31 p.m.; Game 2, Saturday, at Los Angeles, 9:08 p.m.; Game 3, Monday, Oct. 9, at Arizona, TBA; x-Game 4, Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Arizona, TBA; x-Game 5, Thursday, Oct. 12, at Los Angeles, TBA. (All games on TBS).
Season Series: Diamondbacks won 11-8.
Diamondbacks: LF David Peralta (.293, 14 HRs, 57 RBIs), SS Ketel Marte (.260, 5, 18 in 73 games), 1B Paul Goldschmidt (.297, 36, 120, 94 BBs, .966 OPS), RF J.D. Martinez (.303, 45, 104, 1.066 OPS with Tigers and Diamondbacks), 3B Jake Lamb (.248, 30, 105), CF A.J. Pollock (.266, 14, 49 in 112 games), 2B Daniel Descalso (.233, 10, 51 in 131 games) or Brandon Drury (.267, 13, 63, 37 doubles), C Chris Iannetta (.254, 17, 43, .354 OBP) or Jeff Mathis (.215, 2, 11 in 60 games).
Dodgers: CF Chris Taylor (.288, 21, 72, 17 SBs), SS Corey Seager (.295, 22, 77), 3B Justin Turner (.322, 21, 71, 56 Ks, 59 BBs), 1B Cody Bellinger (.267, 39, 97), LF Curtis Granderson (.212, 26, 64, .323 OBP with Mets and Dodgers; .161, 7, 12, .288 OBP in 36 games with Dodgers), 2B Logan Forsythe (.224, 6, 36) or Chase Utley (.236, 8, 34), C Yasmani Grandal (.247, 22, 58), RF Yasiel Puig (.263, 28, 74, 15 SBs).
Diamondbacks: RH Taijuan Walker (9-9, 3.49), LH Robbie Ray (15-5, 2.89, 218 Ks, 162 IP in 28 starts), RH Zack Greinke (17-7, 3.20, 215 Ks in 202 1/3 IP), LH Patrick Corbin (14-13, 4.03 ERA, 189 2/3 IP in 33 games, 32 starts) or RH Zack Godley (8-9, 3.37, 165 Ks, 155 IP in 26 games, 25 starts).
Dodgers: LH Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31, 202 Ks, 30 BBs, 23 HRs allowed in 27 starts, 175 IP), LH Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32, 166 Ks in 25 starts, 135 2/3 IP), RH Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86, 209 Ks, 27 HRs allowed in 31 starts with Rangers and Dodgers), LH Alex Wood (16-3, 2.72 in 27 games, 25 starts).
Diamondbacks: RH Fernando Rodney (5-4, 4.23, 39/45 saves, .200 opponents’ batting average), RH Archie Bradley (3-3, 1.73, 79 Ks in 73 IP), LH Andrew Chafin (1-0, 3.51, 61 Ks, 51 1/3 IP in 71 games), RH David Hernandez (2-1, 4.82), LH Jorge De La Rosa (3-1, 4.21 in 65 games), RH Jimmie Sherfy (2-0, 0.00, 1 save in 10 2/3 IP).
Dodgers: RH Kenley Jansen (5-0, 1.32, 41/42 saves, tied for NL lead), RH Josh Fields (5-0, 2.84, 2 saves), LH Tony Cingrani (0-0, 4.22, 52 Ks, 12 BBs, 42 2/3 IP in 47 games with Reds and Dodgers; 2.79 in 22 games with Dodgers), RH Brandon Morrow (6-0, 2.06, 2 saves), LH Tony Watson (7-4, 3.38, 10 saves in 71 games with Pirates and Dodgers; 2-1, 2.70 in 24 games with Dodgers), RH Pedro Baez (3-6, 2.95), RH Ross Stripling (3-5, 3.75, 2 saves), RH Walker Buehler (1-0, 7.71, 12 Ks, 8 BBs in 9 1/3 IP) or RH Kenta Maeda (13-6, 4.22, 1 save in 29 games, 25 starts) or LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-9, 3.77, 1 save in 25 games, 24 starts) or RH Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 3.98 in 19 games, 16 starts).
The wild-card Diamondbacks won the last six meetings of the regular season. Arizona and Colorado were the only teams to have a winning record against the Dodgers this year. … Greinke pitched for the Dodgers from 2013-15 and went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA during his final season with the team, finishing second in NL Cy Young Award voting. He left for a $206.5 million, six-year contract with the Diamondbacks before the 2016 season. The four-time All-Star was 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA against Los Angeles this year. … Ray could be a big factor in this series. He dominated the Dodgers during the regular season, going 3-0 in five starts with a 2.27 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. He even went 5 for 12 (.417) at the plate with two RBIs. But he threw 34 pitches over 2 1/3 innings in relief after Greinke faltered during the wild-card win over Colorado, so the left-hander probably won’t be available until Game 2 at the earliest — on two days’ rest. If he starts that one, he could pitch a decisive Game 5 on full rest. … Walker was 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA vs. Los Angeles this season. He allowed only one home run in three starts. Corbin went 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA in two starts. Rodney had seven saves but an 8.64 ERA in 10 appearances. Bradley compiled a 1.42 ERA in 10 outings. … Martinez had five homers, eight RBIs and a whopping .824 slugging percentage and 1.208 OPS in nine games against the Dodgers. Goldschmidt had four homers, 13 RBIs and a .959 OPS in 16 games. Lamb had six homers, 14 RBIs and a .938 OPS. Iannetta totaled four homers, eight RBIs and a 1.111 OPS. … Taylor batted .346 with three homers and a .989 OPS against Arizona this year. Grandal hit .340 with a .940 OPS and seven RBIs. Turner was at .304 with three homers, nine RBIs and a .958 OPS. Seager batted .300, but Puig struggled at .214 in 18 games. He did have two homers and 10 RBIs. … Arizona pitching held Bellinger to a .179 batting average in 11 games, with one homer and two RBIs. Utley was 1 for 24 vs. the Diamondbacks this year. … Kershaw won both his starts against Arizona this season, compiling a 0.59 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings. Wood was 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four games, three starts. Hill went 0-3 with a 5.03 ERA in four starts. Maeda was 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in five starts. Jansen had five saves and 10 Ks in six appearances covering six innings. … First-year Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said he thinks the Dodgers intimidated opponents during their 56-11 tear this season, but his team enjoys the challenge of playing them.
Diamondbacks: Arizona (93-69) flipped its record after going 69-93 last year. Lovullo preached communication from the first day of spring training and repeatedly uses the word “love” to describe team chemistry. New general manager Mike Hazen chose not to overhaul the roster, saying he saw enough talent. Instead, he tinkered around the edges. … Arizona got off to a 6-1 start and was 44-26 on June 18 after a seven-game winning streak. Although the Diamondbacks couldn’t keep up with the torrid pace set by Los Angeles in the NL West, they were in the playoff picture throughout. A franchise-record 13-game winning streak late in the season helped secure the No. 1 wild card. … Arizona built an early 6-0 lead for Greinke in the wild-card game against Colorado, but he fizzled quickly in the fourth inning and the Diamondbacks had to hold on late for an 11-8 victory. They got a huge hit from an unlikely source in Bradley, who drove home two runs in the seventh with the first triple by a relief pitcher in postseason history. That was one of four three-baggers for the Diamondbacks, including two by Marte. … While the lineup was expected to be good this season, Arizona also got strong pitching. Only the Indians and Dodgers had a better ERA than the Diamondbacks (3.66). … Goldschmidt led the offense most of the year but faded in September. That didn’t matter much because of the powerhouse performance by Martinez. Acquired from Detroit on July 18 for three minor leaguers, Martinez hit .302 with 29 homers and 65 RBIs in 62 games with the Diamondbacks. He was NL player of the month for September, when he batted .404 with 26 runs, eight doubles, 16 homers and 36 RBIs in 24 games. … Goldschmidt ended the season in an 0-for-17 slump and batted .171 over the final month, but launched a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw in the wild-card game. … Greinke is scheduled to start Game 3 at home, where he went 13-1 with a 2.87 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 116 innings during the regular season.
Dodgers: After beginning the year with big expectations and a major league-high $226 million payroll, the Dodgers went on a 56-11 tear in the middle of the season to leave the rest of their division in the dust. Then they lost 11 in a row, the team’s worst skid since moving West in 1958, and 16 of 17 overall. They finally regrouped in September after a 5-20 stretch and won their fifth straight NL West title by 11 games over Arizona. Los Angeles (104-58) finished with the best record in the majors, one win shy of the franchise mark set in 1953 back in Brooklyn. Now, the pressure is on. With home-field advantage throughout the postseason, Dodgers are trying to reach the World Series for the first time since their most recent championship in 1988. Anything short of that would be a major disappointment. … Dodgers have been eliminated twice in the Division Series and twice in the NL Championship Series over the past four years. … Los Angeles went 57-24 at Dodger Stadium, five more wins than any other team had at home. … The roster is relatively healthy and the team’s big lead in the division allowed manager Dave Roberts to rest players down the stretch. … Kershaw missed time with a back injury for the second straight year and wasn’t quite the same afterward. He went 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA to begin the season but 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA in six starts after returning from a lower back strain. … Hill has a 2.77 ERA at home and is slated to start Game 2 there. … Bellinger made his debut April 25 and ended up leading the team in homers, RBIs and runs (87). He went deep every 12.3 at-bats, set an NL rookie record for home runs and finished second in the league to Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton (59). Bellinger batted .250 with five homers in September, ending the season in a 9-for-48 slide. … Seager slumped to .179 in September but went 3 for 3 with a double in the regular-season finale against Colorado. … Longtime slugger Adrian Gonzalez, shut down with a bad back, will travel with the team and try to help off the field.
— One Shining Moment. Despite pitching only 175 innings, Kershaw tied for the major league lead in wins this season and won his fifth NL ERA title. Though he’s had some successful playoff performances over the past two years, what’s missing from his resume is an October to remember. The three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in the postseason.
— Surging Center Fielder. Pollock came on strong at the end of the season after a subpar year at the plate. He batted .363 in September and delivered a two-run triple in the eighth inning of the wild-card game to help Arizona put away Colorado.
— Get Grandy Going. A savvy and disciplined hitter with power, Granderson batted only .183 in September and .212 overall this season with the Mets and Dodgers. He was acquired Aug. 18 for his experienced left-handed bat in the outfield. But the Dodgers are looking for the Granderson who hit .389 to help the Mets eliminate the Dodgers in 2015 NLDS.