The Los Angeles Dodgers will get another chance Thursday evening to win their first National League pennant since 1988 when they face the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field.
The Dodgers suffered their first loss in the series Wednesday as Javier Baez hit two solo home runs in the Cubs 3-2 victory, cutting the Dodgers lead in the best-of-seven series to three games to one.
The Dodgers will send their ace, Clayton Kershaw, to the mound Thursday evening against fellow left-hander Jose Quintana in a rematch of the Game 1 starters.
“I think that we’re in a pretty good spot,” Dodger manager Dave Roberts said. “We’ve got our number one pitcher going” Thursday “and we’ve got two of the guys at the back end rested,” referring to relievers Kenley Jansen and Brandon Morrow, who both pitched in each of the first three games of the series but did not pitch Wednesday.
Jansen and Morrow have each allowed just one batter to reach base in the series.
Kershaw and Quintana both allowed two runs in five innings and struck out four batters in the Dodgers 5-2 victory in Game 1. Kershaw allowed four hits and walked one batter. Quintana allowed two hits and walked two.
The Dodgers have history on their side. All but one of the previous 36 Major League Baseball teams to take a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series have won the series, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
The lone exception is the 2004 New York Yankees, who lost the American League Championship Series to the Boston Red Sox.
A factor in Chicago’s favor is its 5-0 record when facing elimination since the start of the 2016 postseason, with four of the victories coming by one run, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Cubs averaged 6.4 runs in those five games.
Chicago won’t have its closer Wade Davis available after he pitched the final two innings for the save Wednesday, manager Joe Maddon said.
“This is where the guys got to pretty much do their jobs,” Maddon said. “We have to be much more offensive. It’s got to start happening” Thursday. “We’re going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive.”
The Cubs have been held to three runs or less in eight of their nine 2017 postseason games, including all four against the Dodgers.
“We have to elevate our game offensively,” Maddon said. “It’s just that simple. It’s not about maybe kind of, hopefully; we’ve got to do it.
How do you do that? You have to stick with your game plan. You’ve got to be more centered. You’ve got to be a tougher out with two strikes. You’ve got to move the baseball in situations. We’re capable of doing all those things. That’s what needs to occur for the next three games against Los Angeles.”
The Dodgers never led Wednesday. Willson Contreras homered with one out in the bottom of the second inning and Baez hit the first of his two homers one out later.
Cody Bellinger cut the deficit to 2-1 with a solo homer with one out in the third. Chicago regained a two-run lead when Baez homered again with one out in the fifth.
Justin Turner homered leading off the eighth for the Dodgers. Davis walked Yasiel Puig and Yasmani Grandal to give the Dodgers runners on first and second with two outs, but struck out Chase Utley to end the inning.
Davis walked Chris Taylor with one out in the ninth, but induced Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.
Jake Arrieta got the victory, limiting the Dodgers to three hits and one run over 6 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking five. Davis pitched the final two innings for the save, allowing one run and one hit, striking out three and walking three.
Dodger starter Alex Wood was charged with the loss, allowing three runs and four hits over 4 2/3 innings, striking out seven and not walking a batter. Five Dodger relievers limited the Cubs to one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings.
Maddon was ejected for the second time in the series for arguing an apparent third strike on Curtis Granderson in the eighth that was reversed to a foul ball.
“The process was horrible,” Maddon said. “To have that changed and if Granderson hits the next pitch out, I might come running out of the clubhouse in my jockstrap. That was really that bad. So you can’t permit that to happen. The process was wrong.
The explanation … eventually it turned into hearing two sounds. Not one of them saw a foul tip or … thought it was a foul tip. It was based on two sounds, which I totally cannot agree with that process whatsoever.
The other sound could have come from some lady screaming in the first row. I have no idea. I can’t buy that process. Could have been a guy too. I don’t want to bang on a lady.”
Roberts said Granderson said he hit a foul tip.
“In our eyes I think that they made the right call,” Roberts said. “But ultimately it didn’t affect the game. Davis, he made a good pitch to strike him out there.”
—City News Service