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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matt Kemp is used to being an everyday
player. With so much talent on the Dodgers Mike
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, though, he’s had to adjust to not seeing his name
in the lineup as often.“Does he like it?” manager Dave Roberts said. “Probably
not, but he understands.”Kemp is just happy to be playing baseball that matters
in September, after being on teams in San Diego and Atlanta that missed the
playoffs in recent years.“This doesn’t get old,” he said after NL West-leading
Los Angeles pounded out 16 hits in a 14-0 rout of the San Diego Padres on
Sunday. “I’m excited about what’s to come.”The Dodgers’ division lead remained
at 1½ games over Colorado, which won 2-0 at Arizona.The Dodgers finished their
home slate at 44-37. They are 87-69 overall with six games remaining and would
need to surpass the NL East champion Atlanta Braves (88-68) to earn home-field
advantage in the NL Division Series.“We do some scoreboard watching,” Kemp
said.Kemp went 3-for-4 — falling a triple shy of the cycle — drove in three runs
and scored two on his 34th birthday. Fans in right field serenaded him by
singing “Happy Birthday.”“I haven’t had a triple all year,” he said. “That would
have been cool.”Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-3) pitched six scoreless innings and tied a
career high with three hits. The South Korean left-hander allowed four hits,
struck out eight and walked none to help the Dodgers take two out of three from
the last-place Padres.“Because the hitters gave me a lead, it was very
comfortable pitching,” Ryu said through a translator.Brian Dozier was the only
Dodgers starter without at least one hit. Max Muncy entered as a pinch-hitter
and drove in a team-high four runs.Los Angeles had three homers to extend its
NL-leading and club-record total to 225.Manny Machado and Kemp slugged solo
shots in the first, giving Ryu a 2-0 lead. Kemp’s homer was his 1,000th career
RBI, making him the 11th active player to reach that mark.“It’s tough for all of
us,” Kemp said, referring to those who don’t play every day, “but we all got one
common goal. Sacrifices have to be made at this moment. The main thing is to get
back to the playoffs and back to the World Series.” Machado’s homer was his 37th
this season, matching a career high, and his 13th since the Dodgers acquired him
from Baltimore.Austin Barnes‘ two-run homer highlighted a six-run fourth when
the Dodgers batted around. David Freese’s two-out RBI single chased Joey
Lucchesi (8-9). Machado followed with an RBI single off Trey Wingenter, who then
walked Enrique Hernandez to load the bases.Left fielder Hunter Renfroe had
trouble picking up Kemp’s RBI single that added two more runs to make it
8-0.Muncy had two-run singles in the fifth and seventh.Ryu’s three singles tied
a career high set on April 13, 2013 Mitch
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, at Arizona. His two runs scored also equaled a
career high set on June 17, 2017, at Cincinnati.“He’s a big-game pitcher and it
showed today,” Roberts said. “A certain moment doesn’t get too big for
him.”Lucchesi, the third straight rookie to start against the Dodgers, gave up a
career-high seven runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander struck
out six and walked two.“We can beat them on one given night if we get everything
in the lineup correctly,” Padres manager Andy Green said, “but to be able to
beat them consistently we’ve got some work to do.”UTLEY’S LAST STANDChase Utley
played his last regular-season game at Dodger Stadium. The 39-year-old veteran
plans to retire after the season. He took a curtain call before the game and
received a standing ovation during an at-bat in the sixth, when fans chanted his
last name. He grounded out to second that time and lined out to left in the
eighth.HOME RECORDThe Dodgers’ home record was their worst since going 42-39 in
2011. They won eight of their last 11 this month at Chavez Ravine.HOME CROWDThe
Dodgers had total home attendance of 3,809,684, second-most in franchise history
and eighth-largest in National League history. They averaged nearly 47,000 fans
a game, the best in the majors by about 4,000 over the New York Yankees.CAN’T
BEAT LAThe Padres went 5-14 against the Dodgers this season, including losing
seven of nine on the road.UP NEXTPadres: RHP Bryan Mitchell (1-4, 6.16 ERA)
takes the mound in the opener of a three-game set at San Francisco. He came off
the DL on Sept. 1 and earned his first win as a Padre two days later.Dodgers:
LHP Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.45) starts the opener of a three-game series at
third-place Arizona. In 11 second-half starts, he is 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA, with
67 strikeouts and 11 walks. Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty ImagesThe Boston
Red Sox will learn their World Series opponent when the Milwaukee Brewers and
Los Angeles Dodgers settle the score in Saturday's winner-take-all Game 7.After
ousting the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series, Boston
booted the defending champion Houston Astros in a five-game American League
Championship Series.The newly minted AL champs will host whichever teamcaptures
the National League pennant.Neither of those challengers will seem overly
daunting to the Red Sox after conquering teams who each notched at least 100
wins to get to the World Series.However ,
Boston will either encounter a deep Dodgers squad led by Clayton Kershaw and
Manny Machado or a mighty Brewers bullpen. The team will also have to tinker
their lineup at least twice with J.D. Martinez unable to serve as the designated
hitter under NL rules.TheRed Sox made it this far without their three elite
pitchers consistently performing to their lofty standards, but that must change
to bring another banner to Boston.2018 MLB World Series ScheduleGame 1 -
Brewers/Dodgers at Red Sox: Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 8:09 p.m. ETGame 2 -
Brewers/Dodgers at Red Sox: Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 8:09 p.m. ETGame 3 - Red Sox
at Brewers/Dodgers: Friday, Oct. 26at 8:09 p.m. ETGame 4 - Red Sox
atBrewers/Dodgers: Saturday, Oct. 27at 8:09 p.m. ET*Game 5 - Red Sox
atBrewers/Dodgers: Sunday, Oct. 28at 8:15 p.m. ET*Game 6 -Brewers/Dodgersat Red
Sox: Tuesday, Oct. 29at 8:09 p.m. ET*Game 7 -Brewers/Dodgersat Red Sox:
Wednesday, Oct. 30at 8:09 p.m. ET*= if necessaryAll games will be televised on
Fox and available to stream live on Fox Live TV Burning Question: Can Boston
Trust Its Star Pitchers?Craig Kimbrel has walked a tightrope throughout the
postseason.Elsa/Getty ImagesHeading into the postseason, those who picked
against the 108-win Red Sox鈥攖his writer included鈥攚ondered whether the bullpen
could build a sturdy bridge to Craig Kimbrel. The middle relievers have
succeeded with flying colors; Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes and
31-year-old rookie Ryan Brasier have allowed two combined runs in 21.2 combined
postseason frames.They instead have held their breath watching Kimbrel, who has
ceded five runs in as many nerve-wracking outings. He has issued six walks and a
handful of warning-trackfly balls鈥攏ot to mention Alex Bregman's screeching line
drive saved by a diving Andrew Benintendi for Game 4's final out鈥攖hat nearly
cost Boston in the win column.Per's Chris Cotillo, Kimbrel
apologized to Boston fans after narrowly escaping another jam in Thursday's
series-clinching Game 5:Chris Cotillo ChrisCotilloCraig Kimbrels message to New
Englanders: quot;I鈥檓 sorry that I gave quite a few of you heart attacks the last
few days. Let鈥檚 hope in the World Series I can make them nice and clean.quot;
#RedSoxThat's the unpredictability of postseasonbaseball. Kimbrel boasts a
career 1.91 ERA with the lowest fielding independent pitching (1.96 FIP) of any
qualified reliever in major league history, according to FanGraphs.Brasier, who
has fortified their late innings with seven shutout frames, was pitching in
Japan last year.Perhaps it's unfair to expect positive regression to the mean
from Boston's relief ace without anticipating everyone else to fall the other
way. It won't matter if the other guys squander leads before he emerges, but
Kimbrel won't preserve his October Houdini act unless he makes amends with the
strike zone.The Red Sox, of course, must also worry about recording outs before
turning to the bullpen. They received a scare when Chris Sale, their scheduled
Game 5 starter Steve
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, was hospitalized with a stomach illness earlier in
the week.It is not supposed to impede his World Series availability. In a WEEI
radio appearance (h/t NBC Sports Boston), manager Alex Cora said the star
southpaw will start Tuesday's Game 1 at Fenway Park."Yes, Chris Sale is our No.
1 starter. Most likely David [Price] will be Game 2," Cora said. "鈥?We'll figure
it out. We'll talk about it as a group, but Chris is ready for Game 1. We'll
decide about Game 2, 3, and 4. Let's enjoy this one."Sale, however, also did not
pitch to his elite expectations before the health scare. He issued four free
passes in as many innings against the Astros. After seemingly squashing a
velocity concern in the previous round, his fastball speed again tumbled:Sarah
Langs SlangsOnSportsChris Sale average four-seam fastball velocity in
2018:Before being on DL: 95.4 MPHSeptember: 93.0 MPHALDS: 94.6 MPHALCS Game 1:
92.0 MPHWhile he remains effective at 92-93 miles per hour, those lost ticks at
least give the opposition a puncher's chance:Devan Fink DevanFinkChris Sale
during 2018 regular season...When FB velocity averaged at least 94 MPH:1.83 ERA,
39.8 K%, 5.9 BB%When FB velocity averaged less than 94 MPH:3.30 ERA, 36.7 K%,
3.1 BB%Average FB velocity last night: 92.0 MPHAt least Price enters the Fall
Classic on a brighter note. The 33-year-old exorcized his playoff demons by
stockpiling nine strikeouts in six scoreless frames in a series-clinching win
over Houston.He had surrendered seven runs and six walks in 6.1 innings versus
the Yankees and Astros鈥攔aising his career playoff ERA to 5.42鈥攑rior to
Thursday's gem.An adjustment fueled his success. According to Brooks Baseball,
the lefty threw more changeups (40) than he had in any start this year. He
induced 12 whiffsand no hits against the pitch he tweaked the previous day, as
noted by Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein.Price can forever erase the
unflattering October reputation by harnessing that changeup at least one more
night. Alongside Sale and Kimbrel, the big-name trio presents the key to Boston
celebrating its fourth championship in 15 years.
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