College Professional Sports

SPORTS DIGEST: Dodgers hope to add to record-breaking season

The Los Angeles Dodgers won a franchise-record 106 games this year on their way to a seventh consecutive National League West division title.

That’s another club record and the third longest consecutive title streak in Major League history.

In other words, this was a great season by anybody’s standard. Unfortunately, for Dodgers’ fans, it won’t mean anything if the Dodgers don’t win 11 more games.

All Dodgers’ fans know is that their team hasn’t won a World Series championship since 1988 and nothing short of that will please them, which is too bad. We should be able to enjoy their accomplishments this year.

The Dodgers open the playoffs at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3 against the Washington Nationals, who rallied for three runs in the eighth inning Oct. 1 to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League wild card game, 4-3.

In winning the wild card game, the Nationals did the Dodgers a favor. They used their two best starting pitchers for five and three innings, respectively. That means the Dodgers fill only face Matt Scherzer and Steve Strasburg once each in the upcoming series.

Left-hander Pat Corbin will start in the series opener for the Nationals. As of Oct. 2, Dave Roberts hadn’t set the Dodgers starting rotation for the series, but expect Walker Buehler or Hyun-Jin Ryu to start against Corbin.

Buehler and Ryu are both significantly better at home than on the road. Clayton Kershaw has proved over the years he can pitch anywhere, though he is still looking for a signature post-season performance, but that could be said about most of his teammates, too.

The Dodgers ended the season with a six-game winning streak, but they still have question marks.

The bullpen has been a season-long question mark and will continue to be until Kenley Jansen gets the last out of the last game of the World Series. Yes, if the Dodgers get that far, Jansen will probably be on the mound for the clinching out.

Third baseman Justin Turner, the unquestioned team leader, sat out most of September with first an ankle injury and then a bad back.

He will be back in the lineup against the Nationals, with Corey Seager at shortstop, Max Muncy at first or second base, Cody Bellinger in center field, A.J. Pollock in left field and Will Smith behind the plate.

Roberts figures to platoon Gavin Lux at second base against right handed pitchers with David Freese playing first base against lefties and Joc Pederson and either Kike Hernandez or Chris Taylor platoon in right field.

The bullpen roster has not been announced but expect Jansen, Joe Kelly, Pedro Baez, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias and Adam Kolarek to be on the roster for sure. The final three positions will come down to Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Caleb Ferguson, Ross Stripling and Casey Sadler.

The Dodgers should be able to beat the Nationals in four games. They should be able to get past the Braves or the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.

That would account for seven of the 11 wins the Dodgers need to win a title.

I expect the World Series to be a repeat of the 2017 series that saw the Houston Astros defeat the Dodgers in an exciting seven-game series.

The Astros are the only team in the playoffs that scares me. They have the pitching to keep the Dodgers’ bats silent and they have a solid offense, too.

I will cross that bridge when I get to it and — win or lose — I will be happy if the Dodgers make it to a third straight World Series, something else the team has never accomplished.

BAD WEEK: If you’re a Los Angeles football fan, you can’t be too pleased with last weekend’s results. The Chargers won, but defeating the lowly 0-4 Miami Dolphins is not that big an accomplishment.

The Rams didn’t do as well against a Florida opponent and the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins had disappointing losses after big wins the week before.

The Chargers needed the 30-10 win over the Dolphins. It evened their record at 2-2 and keeps them close to the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chargers also will get running back Melvin Gordon back after his holdout cost him a quarter of the season. Gordon will give Philip Rivers another weapon and that will make the Chargers better.

They also have another winless team, Denver, on the schedule this week, but the Broncos can be tough in Denver.

The Rams have a lot tougher week ahead of them than the Chargers. After getting clobbered 56-40 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sept. 29, the Rams have a short week before playing the Seattle Seahawks Oct. 3 in the Thursday night game.

This might be coach Sean McVay’s toughest test ever in his third season. The Seahawks and the Rams are both 3-1, trying to catch the upstart 49ers, who are 4-0.

The Rams committed four turnovers and 13 penalties, which is no way to win a football game.

Quarterback Jared Goff threw for a career-high 517 yards, but they couldn’t overcome his three interceptions.

McVay needs to figure out how to get Todd Gurley more involved in the offense. Gurley had only 12 touches for 70 yards.

On the college side of the ledger, the Washington Huskies showed why Matt Fink as a third-string quarterback for USC coming into the season. After a great game against Utah, Sept. 20 coming off the bench for an injured Kedon Slovis, Fink was ordinary at best against the Huskies. He completes 19 of 31 passes for 163 yards and threw three interceptions in the Trojans 28-14 loss.

The Trojans now have a week off before facing Notre Dame in South Bend Oct. 12.

The UCLA Bruins had to be disappointed with their 20-17 loss to Arizona. After scoring 50 points in the last 18 minutes the previous week against Washington State, the Bruins had to be thinking they could score more than 17.

Plus Arizona’s star quarterback Khalil Tate from Serra High in Gardena was hurt and missed the game.

But Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robertson hurt an ankle late in the third quarter and never returned. The Bruins scored with two seconds to play in the quarter on a short run by Josh Kelley to give the Bruins a 17-13 lead.

The wildcats responded with a touchdown drive to regain the lead with more than 10 minutes to play but neither team could score again.

UCLA kicker J.J. Molson missed a 39-yard field goal in the closing seconds, moments after making the kick but having it nullified by a timeout call by Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin.

The Bruins have a chance to get back on the winning side Oct. 5 when they host the Oregon State Beavers at 6 p.m. in the Rose Bowl.

AROUND THE CORNER: It’s the first week of October, meaning the NBA season is almost upon us. The Clippers and Lakers both held media days last week. LeBron James and Anthony Davis held court with the press for the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams did the honors for the Clippers. Paul George will miss the start of the season, the Clippers announced. George is recovering from shoulder surgery.