Win­ning ways get job done

Baltimore Sun - - MLB PLAYOFFS - By Mark Gon­za­les

Game 4: Game 5:

Well aware of the team’s 107-year ti­tle drought, the Cubs showed up for spring train­ing bol­stered by the ad­di­tions of Ja­son Hey­ward, Ben Zo­brist and John Lackey and with a new slo­gan coined by Mad­don: “Em­brace the Tar­get.” The phrase went on a T-shirt, and the Cubs could not have worn it bet­ter. They won the NL Cen­tral by 171⁄ games and had an MLB-high 103 wins. They pulled out 14 wins in their fi­nal at-bat, then added two more in the NLDS against the Gi­ants. Ace in the hole. As sen­sa­tional as Clay­ton Ker­shaw has been through­out his ca­reer, he has had post­sea­son strug­gles. The three­time Cy Young Award win­ner and 2014 NL MVP is 3-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 play­off games, in­clud­ing 12 starts, since 2008. Ker­shaw again was far from his best in two NLDS starts against the Na­tion­als but won the opener and saved the fi­nale. Top that. Jon Lester will have a hard time ap­proach­ing his NLDS per­for­mance, when he went toe-to-toe with Johnny Cueto in a 1-0 vic­tory. He held the Dodgers to one run in 15 in­nings over two starts this sea­son.

CHICAGO — The “Dodger Way” started 62 years ago with an em­pha­sis on fun­da­men­tals and a con­cen­tra­tion on pitch­ing, speed and de­fense.

But the Dodgers haven’t won a World Se­ries since 1988.

As for the “Cubs Way,” team Pres­i­dent Theo Ep­stein’s blue­print for suc­cess started shortly af­ter his hir­ing and sub­se­quent over­haul of the team in 2012. The fran­chise needs eight more vic­to­ries to snap a World Se­ries drought dat­ing to 1908.

“Ev­ery­one has a ‘ way’ these days — the Car­di­nal way, the Dodgers way,” said Cubs catcher David Ross, who started his ca­reer with the Dodgers in 1998. “I just like the win­ning way, what­ever that is.”

The win­ning way will be­come more sculpted in this best-of-seven Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries start­ing Satur­day night at Wrigley Field, with the Dodgers and their col­lec­tion of mer­cu­rial stars fac­ing a trendy Cubs team that started to as­cend last sea­son thanks to the blos­som­ing of home­grown tal­ent.

“Each team has dif­fer­ent pri­or­i­ties in how they go about win­ning, and maybe they have their own,” said Ross, 39, who was sold from the Dodgers to the Pi­rates be­fore the 2005 sea­son. “But there’s been a lot of turnover (with the Dodgers) since I’ve been there.”

There’s a greater sense of ur­gency on both sides. The in­jury- rid­dled Dodgers traded three top prospects to the Ath­let­ics to ac­quire left-han­der Rich Hill and left-handed-hit­ting out­fielder Josh Red­dick be­fore the trade dead­line and later added sea­soned catcher Car­los Ruiz.

They also haven’t ruled out start­ing ace Clay­ton Ker­shaw — who threw 110 pitches Tues­day and twothirds of an in­ning Thurs­day — for Game 2 on Sun­day night.

“Phys­i­cally, he feels great,” man­ager Dave Roberts said. “We’re not pre­pared to make that de­ci­sion yet, but he’s track­ing to start when we all think.”

BRIAN CASSELLA/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Catcher David Ross once played for the Dodgers, but he says “there’s been a lot of turnover” since he left in 2005.

Game 1: Dodgers (Maeda) at Cubs (Lester), 8 p.m. Sat. Game 2: Dodgers (Ker­shaw) at Cubs (Hen­dricks), 8 p.m. Sun­day Game 3: Cubs (Ar­ri­eta) at Dodgers (Hill), 8 p.m. Tue.

Cubs (Lackey) at Dodgers (Urias), 8 p.m. Wed.

Cubs (Lester) at Dodgers (Maeda), 8 p.m. Thurs­day (if nec.) Game 6: Dodgers (Ker­shaw) at Cubs (Hen­dricks), TBD Oct. 22 (if nec.) GAME 7: Dodgers (Hill) at Cubs (Ar­ri­eta), TBD Oct. 23 (if nec.)

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