Winning ways get job done
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.”
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.)