The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to avoid elimination Saturday when they face the Chicago Cubs in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
The Cubs took a three games to two lead in the best-of-seven series Thursday with an 8-4 victory in Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.
While the Dodgers will have ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound Saturday, history is not on their side as they attempt to reach the World Series for the first time since 1988.
In all best-of-seven postseason series that have been tied 2-2, the team winning Game 5 has gone on to win 40 of 57 times, 70.2 percent, according to Stats, LLC.
The Dodgers have lost all five previous best-of-seven series that they were tied 2-2, then lost Game 5.
“We’re down a game, but we’ve won on the road before,” said manager Dave Roberts, whose team split the first two games in the series at Wrigley Field and were 2-1 on the road in the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals.
“We’ve won two games before. I think for us, it’s an isolated focus on Game 6. We get a rested Kersh, so with that we feel good. After we get through Game 6, we’ll focus on Game 7, but I think our confidence hasn’t wavered.”
The Dodgers are 4-0 this postseason in games Kershaw has pitched, including Game 2 Sunday, when he pitched seven shutout innings, allowing two hits, in a 1-0 victory.
“If he’s on top of his game, it’s going to be another close, low- scoring game,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “We just have to eek out as many runs as we can.”
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs. Hendricks also started Game 2, allowing three hits, including a solo homer to Adrian Gonzalez in the second inning, for the game’s only run.
Hendricks walked four batters in his 5 1/3 innings Sunday.
“A couple of those were bad walks, but at least you’re not leaving something over the middle of the plate for damage,” said Hendricks, who said he has worked on improving his fastball command since Sunday.
“You really have to toe the line in the playoffs because one run against a guy like that could be huge.”
Hendricks led Major League Baseball with a 2.13 ERA, the first Cub to do so since Bill Lee in 1938.
“He obviously had an amazing year,” Kershaw said. “He’s kind of like the Greg Maddux of this generation, with his ability to sink the ball, cut the ball and put it in spots where hitters are enticed to swing at it, but you can’t put the barrel on it.
He’s really good at mixing speeds, changing it up.”
The team scoring first has won each game of the series.
“That’s been our mantra all year — to score first and win innings,” Maddon said. “It is big. The winning percentage for that team normally over the course of a long season is heavily in their favor.”
A victory would give the Cubs their first National League pennant since 1945.
Game 7, if necessary, would be played Sunday at Wrigley Field.
—City News Service