The Chicago Cubs will not have a chance to defend their first World Series championship in more than a hundred years. The Los Angeles Dodgers are back in the Fall Classic for the first time in almost thirty.
The Dodgers pummeled the Cubs 11-1 at Wrigley Field last night, with a part time utility player, Enrique Hernandez, making the most of his opportunity by hitting three home runs on the night, and that made ace Clayton Kershaw's job even easier as he waltzed through six innings to pick up the win.
The Dodgers won 104 games in the regular season to lead the majors in that category, and they're no strangers to success, having made the post-season eight times in the last thirteen seasons, but none of those appearances resulted in World Series play. They'll be trying to win the title for the first time since 1988 when they shocked the heavily favored Oakland A's. And Kershaw should be well-rested when he takes the hill in game one of the series, facing either the Houston Astros or NY Yankees.
And for a brief while it looked like Houston would be booking that ticket, jumping out to a two games to none lead against New York, but since then, Houston's had a problem. The Yankees won three games in a row in the Bronx, where they've yet to lose a playoff game this season, and if they can pick up a road win tonight or in a potentially necessary game seven, they'll be roaring into the finals with more momentum than even L.A., which was expected to get this far. The conventional wisdom on the Yankees was that the future is bright, but that 2017 would belong to either the Astros or Indians. I don't think the Astros are going to recover from the beating they took in the Bronx, and with Yankees ace Luis Severino on the mound tonight and Lance McCullers countering for Houston, we're probably looking at an east coast-west coast showdown for the title. I very much hope I'm wrong about that.
To the NHL, and what a difference the best two-way player in hockey can make. That's a reference to Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, who had yet to play a game this season as he struggled to recover from off-season hernia surgery, and the Bruins suffered in his absence, entering last night's game against the Vancouver Canucks with a tepid 2-3 record, but Bergeron was on home ice last night, and finished with a goal and three assists in Boston's 6-3 win.
Reunited with his running mate Brad Marchand, Bergeron's presence also fueled a two-goal night by rookie Anders Bjork, and if that line of Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork can stay healthy and play like they did last night, it should provide a ripple effect and coach Bruce Cassidy to match up his second, third and fourth lines more favorably against opponents tougher than Vancouver.
David Krejci and David Pastrnak, fellow natives of the Czech Republic, were paired on the second line, and each scored last night. The Bruins got 26 saves from back-up goalie Anton Khudobin, as Tuukka Rask was out due to a concussion he suffered in practice recently. The Bruins hope that won't be a lingering issue, as Khudobin didn't look especially sharp in the second period when the Canucks scored two goals in a span of 34 seconds to turn a 5-1 Bruins lead into a 5-3 affair that turned the home crowd restless. But Bergeron scored in the third and the Bruins clamped down on defense to make sure the leaf would stand up. Boston was also very good on the power play last night, scoring on four of eight attempts.
It's hard to understand what's gotten the NY Rangers off to such a sluggish start this season, given they have a roster not radically different from the one that cruised through the regular season last year and made the playoffs, ousting the Montreal Canadiens in round one before losing to the Ottawa Senators in the next. In any event, the Rangers still have just one win on the season through six games after a 4-3 overtime shootout loss to the crosstown rival NY Islanders at Madison Square Garden last night. John Tavares scored the game winner in the shootout round for the Islanders.
The University of Vermont women's soccer team played their final road game of the season, falling to UMBC 1-Nil in Baltimore. The Catamounts could have had a shot at finishing the season with a .500 record but fall to 6-8-2 on the year. Their final game of the season is a home tilt against Stony Brook on Sunday.