Different city, same story. As the NLCS shifted from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to Wrigley Field in Chicago, the postseason gained a new level of intensity. This isn’t L.A., this is Chicago. This is a city that is still reeling from a World Series Championship. Chicago is a baseball town in every meaning of the word.
But the Dodgers haven’t wavered one bit.
Game 3 began with an epic pitching matchup; Yu Darvish against the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks. Darvish made his 4th career postseason start tonight, taking the mound after an amazing outing in Game 3 of the National League Division Series against Arizona.
Roberts sent out a different lineup in tonight’s game; starting Andre Ethier in left, a decision that would be celebrated in the top of the 2nd inning, as well as the top of the sixth. Roberts also made the call to put Joc Pederson in center, his first start of the postseason and moved Chris Taylor to shortstop. Both Taylor and Ethier homered in the first few innings of the game.
The Cubs struck first with a solo home run from Kyle Schwarber in the bottom of the first. The Dodgers answered when Ethier homered to right, off of his name on the right-field screen, to tie the game for Los Angeles.
After a 1-2-3 2nd inning for Darvish, Taylor homered to center, putting the Dodgers ahead. The Cubs stayed fairly quiet in the following innings, while the Dodgers plated Pederson on a triple from Chris Taylor.
With Darvish dealing, the Cubs offense was held to one run on six hits through 6-1/3 innings pitched by the Dodgers’ righty.
The Cubs brought on their bullpen to face the Dodgers in the 6th frame, with Carl Edwards Jr giving up an infield single on an error to Yasiel Puig, and a single to Ethier. After walking Austin Barnes, Dave Roberts made a call that seemed odd at the time, but I think we all found ourselves smiling in amusement and faith after it happened. Roberts sent Darvish to the plate with the bases loaded and two out.
He worked a walk on four pitches.
The Dodgers led 4-1 going into the bottom of the 7th, and Darvish took the mound once more and struck out Addison Russell. Southpaw Tony Watson finished the inning with Javier Baez hitting a pop fly, and then striking out Ian Happ to send the game to the 8th.
Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery jogged out of the bullpen to pitch the 8th for Chicago, giving up a walk to Logan Forsythe and a single to Barnes. After a wild pitch, a passed ball on a Charlie Culberson strikeout, and a Kyle Farmer sacrifice fly, the Dodgers ended the inning leading 6-1.
The Dodgers bullpen has been extraordinary this postseason, and it continues to be proven with every half inning.
Hector Rondon took the mound in the 9th for Chicago. Justin Turner grounded out to third base, and Puig was tagged out at second by an amazing throw from Schwarber in left. Kike Hernandez followed with a two-out single to right but was caught stealing to end the inning.
With the game heading into the second half of its third hour, the Cubs were down to their final three outs. Ross Stripling came on to pitch in the home half. The new Cubs catcher Alex Avila singled to left on a 2-2 count, bringing pinch-hitter Albert Almora to the plate with nobody out. Almora hit a line drive to left that dropped just past Hernandez and rolled into the iconic ivy of Wrigley Field, causing both Almora and Avila to end up at third, as it seemed that Almora had thought that Avila would round third and head home. The umpires discussed the call, and as they did, Dave Roberts motioned toward his bullpen, bringing on closer Kenley Jansen.
The play was reviewed and the umpiring crew determined that the ball was caught in the ivy, resulting in a ground rule double, sending Almora to second and keeping Avila at third.
Facing his first batter, Jansen got Russell to hit a pop fly to first-baseman Cody Bellinger. On deck was Cubs pinch hitter Tommy La Stella, who struck-out on a cut fastball. With two outs, Ian Happ, who was 0-1 in the game, struck out to end it.
Many said that tonight was a must-win for the Cubs, and I agree. Some said that tonight was a must-win for the Dodgers, but if you’re asking me, every game in the postseason is a must win.
Tonight the Dodgers virtually erased their slump earlier in September, because they are not that team. The team that was on the field tonight is who they really are.
There’s always tomorrow, but after tonight, I’m not worried.
Now, who’s ready for some more playoff baseball?
(FOLLOW SARAH ON TWITTER: @SARAHMANINGER)