CHICAGO (AP) — Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.
Fueled by Hernandez’s home run trilogy, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.
Hernandez homered three times and drove in seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs’ title defense with an 11-1 victory in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.
“It feels good to hear World Series,” Kershaw said. “It’s been a long time coming for this team.”
After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping this group of Dodgers. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and Justin Turner anchoring a tough lineup, one of baseball’s most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Los Angeles to its last championship in 1988.
The Dodgers will host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead in the ALCS heading into Game 6 at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.
The Dodgers made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when Los Angeles was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year’s NLCS at Wrigley Field.
He was just OK in his first two starts in this year’s postseason, but Los Angeles’ loaded lineup picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez’s powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts in his sixth career playoff win — matching Burt Hooton for the franchise record.
When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on. The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small, but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitor’s dugout and chanted “Let’s go Dodgers! Let’s go Dodgers!”