By Jon Weisman
The last time the Dodgers played in a winner-take-all playoff game, the winning pitcher was Orel Hershiser.
That was October 12, 1988, when Hershiser pitched the Dodgers to a 6-0 victory in Game 7 of the 1988 National League Championship Series (a series that receives some fine oral history treatment from Lyle Spencer of MLB.com).
For all the talk of home-field advantage in the postseason, the Dodgers have been in 12 playoff series since the last time one of them went down to the final game. Will this year be different? We’re certainly due.
The last time the Dodgers played the final game of a playoff series on the road was October 19, 1981, when Rick Monday homered in the ninth and Bob Welch got the final out for Fernando Valenzuela to win Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS.
In fact, the Dodgers haven’t lost a winner-take-all playoff game since Game 7 of the 1956 World Series, and haven’t lost one on the road since Game 7 of the 1952 World Series. The Dodgers are 5-3 overall in winner-take-all playoff games, triumphing in their past four, and have pitched shutouts in half of them.