Dodgers clinch NL Pennant and move on to Fall Classic

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Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for winning the  National League Championship Pennant. They did it in front of a sold out Wrigley Field crowd in Chicago hoping to see their Cubbies pull off another come-from-behind miracle, as they did last year to win the World Series. But they left the iconic 103-year old field disappointed.

Perhaps the Cubs were a little wiped out after a tough NLDS with the Washington Nationals. But for whatever reason, the Chicago lineup batted only .156 in the NLCS.

There was that and they faced the best pitcher in the game, Clayton Kershaw, who only gave up one run — a solo home run to Kris Bryant — and three hits in six solid innings.

Enrique Hernandez says baseball has helped him
deal with the crisis in Puerto Rico

The star of the night for Los Angeles fans though was Puerto Rico native Enrique “Kiké” Hernandez, who blasted three home runs in the game — including a grand slam in the third and a two-run shot in the ninth — accounting for seven RBIs in the game.

While his island home is reeling from Hurricane Maria, Hernandez has cemented his name in Dodgers history, becoming only the fourth player in league championship history to have a three-homer game. He joins Bob Robertson who did it for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals who slammed three in 1978, and Adam Kennedy did it in 2002 for the Angels.

After the game Hernandez told the media, “For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special. My body’s here, but my mind’s kind of back home. It’s hard being away from home with what’s going on.” He added, “ All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug.”

His father, Enrique Hernandez, Sr., who was at Wrigley Field for the game, was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia, that is now in remission.

The MVPs for the NLCS are third baseman Justin Turner and utility man Chris Taylor. Besides some spectacular defensive plays, Taylor had some great catches in center field, both players turned in great numbers for the series. Turner — a native of Southern California and a lifelong Dodger fan — batted .333 with six hits, two home runs and seven RBI. Taylor batted .316 — .500 in Thursday’s Game 5 — with six hits, two home runs and three RBIs.

Jose Quintana started for Chicago, but was forced out of the game in the third inning, giving up six hits and six earned runs.

Clayton Kershaw

Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw has been fighting off a bad rap as a postseason pitcher and his six innings Thursday went a long way to reverse that reputation. His ERA for the series is 2.45 and for Game 5 it was 1.50. He will get the start for Game 1 of the World Series, which opens at Dodger Stadium Tuesday.

This will be the Dodgers’ first trip to the World Series since 1988 when Tommy Lasorda guided the team to a championship pennant over the Oakland Athletics. They now wait on the conclusion of the American League Championship Series which resumes tonight in Houston, TX, between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. New York leads the series 3-2, but now they will face a hostile crowd that helped the Astros win the first two games of the series.

If the Yankees win it will set up a series between two historic teams that have a long World Series rivalry that began when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, NY. If the Astros win it will be their first trip to the Fall Classic since 2005 when the team was in the National League. They faced the Chicago White Sox who went on to win the title, so the Astros are looking for their first World Series pennant in team history.

Below are video reports from Claudia Gestro, including her interviews with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Dodgers utility man Charlie Culberson, Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge.

Photos by Claudia Gestro