Can Mookie Betts & Dodgers Be The Empire That Strikes Back?

Can Mookie Betts & Dodgers Be The Empire That Strikes Back?

By Nick Hamilton (@NickHamiltonLA) | MLBbro.com Contributor

LOS ANGELES, CA As the Dodgers return to Los Angeles down 0-2 in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, can they do one simple thing and protect home field?

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will have utilized some Jedi mind tricks of his own to get his team back in this series.

In Game 5 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, Mookie Betts went 4-for-4, and became the only Dodger in history with four hits in a winner-take-all game. Between the offensive production and his defense that has ignited many plays from his fellow Dodger teammates, this team is on a trajectory to still win the NLCS and make the World Series.

“This is when the stars are stars,Roberts said of Betts after the game 5 win. And hes a superstar.

However after viewing the first two games against the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, some would question this team’s focus and energy.

In game two in Atlanta, Mookie Betts opened the game with a single followed by Corey Seager’s homer that gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

The Dodgers had slightly better offensive production, despite Roberts decision to platoon pitchers on the mound including inserting Julio Urias into the relief that ultimately would cost them the win. 

Betts is a part of a gigantic lineup that can hit in spots that most aren’t successful in, but balancing out the production is not only up to the players but Roberts seeing the adjustments through his eyes and not just analytics.

Many of the players are taking on the attitude of their manager with the aggressive base running in the first two games of this series.

During the regular season, the Dodgers ranked 17th in stolen bases. In the first eight games of the playoffs, Los Angeles has stolen 11 bases.

The aggressiveness must remain, yet smarter, more accurate hitting and fielding must improve if they want to have a strong chance at winning this series.

Betts stole two bases. Gavin Lux stole one base and Chris Taylor stole a base in game two on Sunday. Fortunately no one was thrown out while stealing bases.

“In the postseason where things are more magnified,Roberts said, you just cant be afraid to fail. I just think that being careful in the postseason doesnt play.

Last year in the playoffs against the Braves they trailed 3-1 and fought back to win the series and move on to the World Series. This team has been down before, however can rise to the occasion again with similar opportunities on the line?

Roberts has strong believe in this club winning the NLCS, and maybe his strong faith can bend the baseball universe in their favor. However it will take swift action, precise hitting, stellar defense to be the empire who struck back to knock the Braves off for good.

No Mission Is Impossible For Dave Roberts

No Mission Is Impossible For Dave Roberts

By Nick Hamilton| MLBbro.com Contributor 


LOS ANGELES
The 2021 season for the Los Angeles Dodgers could easily be a reality television series that gives fans every emotion and feeling possible. 

From dealing with injuries throughout the lineup, to the saga of pitcher Trevor Bauer that has more drama than a General Hospital episode, and battling to claim the NL West while falling short by one game to their hated rival San Francisco Giants made this season a challenging one to say the least.

Manager Dave Roberts has seen and experienced it all, from his time as a player winning a World Series championship with the 2004 Boston Red Sox to becoming the franchises first minority manager being of Black and Japanese heritage.

Despite the criticisms over the years, Roberts has guided the Dodgers to multiple World Series appearances, battling against cheating scandals surrounding the Houston Astros in 2017 and Red Sox in 2018 and hes always stood tall on his focus.

His determination and tremendous baseball knowledge finally guided the Dodgers to their first championship in 32 years in 2020. Unfortunately, it happened during one of the most deadly global pandemics our generation has experienced.

It didnt happen at Dodger Stadium, therefore, there were limited fans attending the World Series in Texas. It came down to a sixth game and on the arm of a young phenom in lefty Julio Urias to secure the final three outs.

His young stable of hitters led by Corey Seager became the World Series MVP, acquiring one of the greatest talents in the game in Mookie Betts paid dividends especially defensively, and we saw the emergence of players like Walker Buehler, Cody Bellinger and Kike Hernandez under Robertstutelage.

The 2021 season saw his Dodgers with their backs against the wall against a feisty and successful St. Louis Cardinals team that had won 17 consecutive games in September and won 19 out of their last 20.

Was Roberts unfazed by his opponent? You better believe it. Though he respected his opponent, he knew the type of talent and the attitude of his players who can play with a chip on their shoulder the size of Frito-Lay most times.

Only in Los Angeles where a team could win in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning in a winner-take-all Wild Card game against the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. Roberts continued to smile in the faces of his critics, and focused on his team defeating his NL West rival Giants in the NLDS.

This was a tall task seeing how the Giants clinched the division with a franchise-record 107-win season. Ultimately it came down to a do-or-die Game 5 at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Of course, Robertsmethods would come into question again, as in the eleventh hour the probable starter Urias was changed to Corey Kneble. This decision came after Roberts proclaimed Urias would be starting Game 5.

Again, he managed his team out of NLDS and into the NLCS in a rematch against the Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers overcame a 3-1 deficit to win that series last year.

Its time to put some serious respect on Robertsname and trust his decision- making more, especially with the proven track record hes laid down. I often wonder if Roberts didnt have the appearance he has, would he be questioned as much as he is.

Hes won a championship as a Black manager in a league that has just eight percent Black American baseball players on the field. There is a serious need for not only more Black players but more Black managers in positions to lead MLB teams.

Roberts is like Tom Cruise, no mission is impossible and could be well on his way to capturing another World Series title in 2021. The Roberts hire also shows when given an opportunity to manage with the proper personnel, anything is possible!

LaMonte Wade Jr. Tantalized On Both Sides Of The Cowhide

LaMonte Wade Jr. Tantalized On Both Sides Of The Cowhide

A debate ensued with the San Francisco Giants about which outfielder would play in Game of the NLDS as LaMonte Wades’ struggles were louder than his play.

Reports indicated that it came down to Wade Jr. and fellow outfielder Steven Duggar, who made plays while starting Game 3. But Wade got the start, and it paid off. 

Wade Jr. got his first postseason hit as he turned on an inside pitch which dropped in front of fellow MLBbro Mookie Betts for a single to right-center in the top of the second. 

This hit broke an unwanted playoff slump for the young sensation who was 2-34 at the plate and hitless in seven NLDS at bats. 

After building his confidence at the plate, Wade Jr put on his PF Flyers, turned on the jets, and produced a game-saving catch with men on base, while crashing into the wall to end the third inning.

The top of the fourth saw Wade get showered with boos as he once again steps to the plate with Bryant on base, but he grounded out to second to end the inning.

With runners in scoring position, he has eight game-tying or go-ahead hits in the ninth inning or better, which is the most in the MLB this season; hence the later the game, the more efficient he hits.

A double switch ended Wades’ night early as he was replaced in the bottom of the fourth. The Dodgers went on to route the Giants 7-2 to force a winner take all Game 5:

Hitting is magnetic, and since Wade has found his stroke look for him to continue turning those negative plate appearances into a positive Thursday night in front of a ruckus crowd back at Oracle park.

First pitch of the NLDS is slated for 9:07 p.m. EST on TBS.

Lamonte Wade Jr.’s Glove Understands The Assignment | His Dynamic D Helps Giants Take 2-1 NLDS Lead

Lamonte Wade Jr.’s Glove Understands The Assignment | His Dynamic D Helps Giants Take 2-1 NLDS Lead

“Late Night” LaMonte Wade Jr.’s struggles continued Monday night  against vaunted LA Dodgers hurler Max Scherzer.

Wade Jr. went 0-3 with two strikeouts and he’s mired in a 2-for-34 rut. 

The struggles at the plate are prevalent for Wade Jr, but his defensive prowess is on another level as he made play after play while roaming left field.

He caught numerous pop-flys throughout his duration, but none was more impressive than the one he shagged on the warning track to open the bottom of the sixth.

Wades’ defense is only one of the reasons he was able to help his team gain one step closer to advances to the National League Championship Series as he was one of two current Giants to have faced Scherzer, as mentioned earlier.

Wade’s knowledge of the newly acquired Dodger pitcher led to the lone run of the game by Evan Longoria who went yard in the top of the fifth. 

Wade Jr. said he remembers Scherzer very well in their match-up when he pitched for the Washington Nationals. He emphasized how he challenged him with heater after heater in his at-bats.

Per KNBR.com, Wade said, “Now that I think about it, he was attacking the whole time with the heater.”

He recounted the 12 pitch at-bat as the first pitch was 94 mph, then 89, 93, and 94 mph with a cuter and a curveball to keep him honest at the plate, which like Monday, led to another pop-out.

From the performance, which ultimately bled into Tuesday morning, it was evident that the Giants did their due diligence in preparing for the Cy Young winner as they’re one win away from advancing to the next round.

And speaking of putting the work in, a video surfaced of manager Gabe Kapler witnessing the power of Wade Jr. as he launched long ball after long ball into the stratosphere Sunday night ahead of game three inside Dodger Stadium.

There is a reason that Kapler keeps inserting Wade into the starting lineup. He knows that bad times don’t last, and hopefully, LaMonte will show why he received the moniker “Late Night” sooner rather than later.

Look for Wade to shake away from the dismal slump in Game 4 on Tuesday night, with first pitch slated for 9:07 p.m. EST on TBS.

Lorenzo Cain Shows No Sign Of Weakness In The Brewers Game 3 NLDS Loss

Lorenzo Cain Shows No Sign Of Weakness In The Brewers Game 3 NLDS Loss

Lorenzo Cain went all out for the Brewers, but his team still lost to the Braves in Game 3 of the back-and-forth National League Divisional Series.

After an injury-plagued season, Cain showed no weaknesses on Monday night.

Milwaukee now trails the series 2-1, but it’s good to see our MLBbro back healthy and in the lineup for the Milwaukee Brewers during the National League Division Series.

In Game 3, the Brewers fell to the Atlanta Braves 3-0, which leaves the Braves one win away from advancing to the next round.

While the Brewers lost to the Braves for the second straight time and Cain went 0-for-3 at the plate, he still left it all on the field, as he always does.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Cain went all out as he attempted to make a catch in right center.

 

The veteran went full speed trying to catch a ball hit off of Adam Duvall’s bat. Cain was able to catch the ball but as he collided into the fence the ball popped out of his glove.

Though he wasn’t able to come up with the catch, just the effort alone is what you love to see from Cain.

For a brief moment, it looked as if Cain may have injured himself, but he knew in his mind that he was not coming out of the game.

This is how he plays day in and day out.

There’s a reason why he’s a Gold Glove Award winner. This brother is not afraid to go all out and make a big time play.

This is what the Brewers have been missing during the regular season, but now they don’t have to worry about that, since Cain is back.

And this brother is glad to be back in the playoffs.

“This year has been a tough year for me,” Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “A lot of injuries, starting in spring training. A quad injury and a hamstring injury. So, yeah, it’s been a tough season. But I worked my butt off to get back on the field – just in time for the playoffs, I guess.”

“Just going out there, grinding with the boys and just trying to produce and contribute to this team.”

During the NLDS, Cain has only one hit in nine at bats, but he continues to provide that spark out in the field.

That’s one thing you won’t have to worry about getting from him.