“If you only knew what you’re putting me through
There’s that heart attack
You’re givin’ me a heart attack
A heart attack, you’re givin’ me a heart attack
I must have died and gone to heaven
What a way to go”
Ah, baseball. Where the only run scored is in the second inning and you have to sweat it out through the next seven innings. Where your team gets to the fastest throwing closer the game has ever seen and then your guy, who has been lights out, hangs a slider and boom, tie game gone. Where you manager seemingly makes the right move, and you still lose the game.
But this is what happens when you are in the NLCS, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. What an interesting little series we have going on here. The powerhouse Cubs offense has gone mostly missing, except for the grand slam to Miguel Montero – in which the bases were loaded due to two walks and a single. The Dodgers offense hasn’t been too hot either, but with Clayton Kershaw only allowing two hits before handing the ball off to Kenley Jansen Sunday night, Adrian Gonzalez‘s home run was all they needed.
Let’s talk about Kershaw. He is destroying his postseason narrative bit by glorious bit. After pitching seven innings on short rest Tuesday in LA, Kershaw told manager Dave Roberts he had enough in the tank for one inning in game five. He came in to relieve Jansen with one out in the ninth, faced the toughest batter the Nationals had, and threw just seven pitches for two outs. Then he follows that with 4-2/3 perfect innings against the Cubs at Wrigley. He went on to give up just two singles. Maybe most importantly of all, he issued a walk in the seventh inning, then got two outs before Javier Baez came up to bat. Roberts came to the mound with all intentions of removing him. But Kershaw talked his way into staying, and induced a scarier than clowns long fly ball to center, that thankfully landed in the glove of Joc Pederson, and left Roberts manically laughing in the dugout.
Kershaw said after the game that he didn’t want Kenley to have to come in, and have to sit in the dugout an extra inning between pitching. He’s always thinking. Jansen returned that favor by making quick work of the Cubs in the eighth and the ninth innings, throwing 18 pitches, 16 of them strikes, and striking out four. I love the way these two men are feeding off each other, taking note of the what other is doing, and making sure they do that themselves. The fact that it was only those two in game two is huge, as now they have all the arms in the bullpen rested for the next few games. Sure, there are problems here. The Cubs have great pitching, and the Dodgers were only able to muster three hits last night. The Cubs have a phenomenal defense, and all hard hit balls just kept finding their way into their gloves. The shaky part of the rotation is up next, and the Dodgers have not won any games that Kershaw has not pitched in. Chicago has incredible hitters, and one would think those bats are bound to wake up soon.
Maybe on another night those long fly balls from the Cubs are out and this game has a different outcome. Maybe Kershaw chokes again when it really counts. But that’s not what happened, and the Dodgers can be very encouraged by what happened in Chicago – hard hits, knocking the closer from the game, staying in every game (which the exception of one hanging slider). They have all the momentum on their side, and not nearly the amount of pressure the Cubs have. Now they get to return home to their ballpark, their crowd, their beds, their city, with a chance to clinch at home. Buckle up, baby. It’s going to be quite the ride.