The Urena Express: 10/20/21 (Bonus Coverage)

Steven Urena

By Steven Urena

Dodgers vs. Braves
What a Game 3 for the Dodgers. Up until the Belli Bomb, LA was dead in the water. They had a 6% chance of winning the ball game. It was a best case scenario for the Braves. The Dodgers melted down, Walker Buehler was out of the game early and the cathedral known as Dodger Stadium was as silent as the grave. Cody Bellinger did it again. Just when we think he’s going to have another bad game, he gets an opportunity and does not disappoint. Mookie Betts clutched up with his double. Kenley Jansen shut the door again. Blue Crew gets the W. The Dodgers are down but definitely not out.

Check my math out real quick below.
1 + 1 = 2
2 + 2 = 4
3 + 3 = 6
4 + 4 = 8
5 + 5 = 10
6 + 6 = 12
7 + 7 + 14
8 + 8 = 15
9 + 9 = 18
10 + 10 = 20

There’s one lesson I learned as a young head baseball coach. You could do a million things correctly but you’ll still be criticized for the one thing you did wrong. That’s kinda the boat that Dave Roberts is currently on.

I’m usually behind Dave Roberts. My Raider fan Dodgers friends are usually not. The rants are usually that he’s a “yes sir” man to the front office. They pull the string of the marionette and Roberts does the song and dance. Other second guessers say Roberts does not know when to properly use pitchers and hitters in big situations. Some say he needs to manage from his “gut” and ignore the analytics. Finally, my Small Ballers (bunting, stealing bases, moving runners over, etc.) say we need to play more situational baseball.

Angelinos, I get it. I don’t always agree with “Dave Robots” but the guys had a ton of success. I’ve mother f’d him up and down and then a few minutes later I was dead wrong. The guy knows what he’s doing. We can sit here and pick Roberts apart all day but let’s forget the fact that he’s got division titles, pennants and a World Series under his belt. He uses his old school baseball knowledge and baseball data effectively to win games.

I had the privilege of hearing Tommy Lasorda speak at a coaches clinic many years ago. He said the people in the stands are called the “second guessers” because they always need two guesses to get it right. Managers do not have that luxury. They need to make game time decisions.

I would like to see more stolen bases. Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger, AJ Pollock, Chris Taylor and Gavin Lux can flat out fly. It’s easier to let the reins go than try to hold them back. Let the rabbits run! 

Situational baseball. “Small Ball.” We need to get better at scoring a runner on third base with less than 2 outs. Plain and simple. We need to get better at shortening up and getting base hits. This “put the ball in play and let the defense make errors” thing is high school. Yes, big leaguers make errors but we need to go up with a “swing to do damage” mentality. Dodgers should be trying to hit hard line drives. Look at Mookie Betts lately. Perfect example.

Sacrifice bunt? Nah. I’m still not sold on it. Drag bunt (bunt for a hit)? Yes please! Safety squeeze (bunt with a runner on third)? Yes please! Hit and Run? Nope. Go watch USC vs. UCLA for that. 

I want to see more walks. Last year the Dodgers wore out pitchers by being selective. Pass the baton. Make the pitchers work. Don’t take fastballs down the middle but also don’t chase. Watch film and do your homework. 

Let’s also not forget that the Dodgers have left a village on the basepaths. We’ve done a good job of getting on but we have trouble getting them in and getting them over. Hopefully last night’s game starts to change the tide.

Yes, the Dodgers are down but we’ve been here before and it’s time to have faith in our guys.

Red Sox vs. Astros
The series is all tied up at two a piece. It was looking like a surprising pitcher’s duel until the Astros pulled away for 7 runs in the top of the 9th inning. Alex Cora went with his best starter to close the door but the door swung back and hit him right on his rear end. It looked like the Red Sox would take a commanding 3-1 lead but the Astros bullpen kept the Sox to two runs and exploded in the 9th.

Last time I checked, the Red Sox had 21 postseason home runs. The next team is the Dodgers with 9. The Sox bats are en fuego, despite the hiccup last night. The Sox love hitting at Fenway and they get another crack at it tomorrow night. I still like their chances to pull ahead 3-2.

The Red Sox staff is still suspect. Their hitting has bailed them out for most of the playoffs. The Astros will still have to see flamethrower Nathan Eovaldi one more time and that will be no easy task. Educardo Rodriguez has been consistent and will definitely start another game in this series. Now it’s time for the rest of the staff to show up.

In my last column I wrote that the Red Sox needed to split in Houston. They did and they won their first game at Fenway. Tomorrow is huge for the Red Sox. Win and they may have punched their ticket to the World Series. Lose and they’ll need to play a Game 6 in Houston in a win or go home situation. I still like the #SoxInSix. I predict they win the next two games.

Zack Greinke pitched 1.1 innings and gave up 2 runs but the Astros bullpen hung on tight and gave their squad a chance to pull off the late inning dramatics. Give credit to the Astros, they keep moving forward. Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve proved that despite the controversy, they are still bonafide October studs. Michael Brantley broke out of his October slump with a huge double in his last at-bat. The Astros needed this win.

The Astros need to play one more in Fenway then get to go to the only place in their world they are loved, Houston. All the Astros had to do was win one at Fenway. Anything on top of that is a bonus. If the Astros can find a way to come to Houston up 3-2, they might finish the Sox in 6 games but Fenway is a tough place to play. Let’s see if the Astros can prove me wrong.

It’s been a great series so far. We’ve seen it all. Big time pitching, a ton of home runs and some good old fashioned smack talk. 

Contact Steve Urena at:
Twitter/IG: @theurenaexpress

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