This year, the Cubs won three of four at Wrigley; the Dodgers took two of three at Dodger Stadium. The two losses in L.A. were tough, one-run affairs.
So the teams seem pretty evenly-matched over the last two seasons.
Interestingly, the Cubs missed Clayton Kershaw in the four-game set at Wrigley this year, as he had pitched the day before. Then he was on the disabled list when the Cubs went to L.A. in August, so they did not face him at all this year. They also missed Rich Hill, so they haven’t faced two of the likely starters in this series all year. In fact, Hill has only faced the team that drafted him once, a three-batter relief appearance when he was with the Red Sox in 2011, and David Ross is the only Cub he’s seen for more than a couple of at-bats (1-for-13).
Here’s a brief summary of all seven games the teams played this season.
This was another Jason Hammel “cramping” game, as he left after two innings, having allowed one hit. Travis Wood, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon threw a combined seven perfect innings, striking out eight. Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward had RBI hits in the fifth inning for the only Cubs runs. This game also featured a Wood vs. Wood pitcher-batter matchup (Dodgers’ Alex Wood facing Travis Wood; Travis flied to right) as well as a Baez vs. Baez match (Dodgers’ Pedro Baez facing Javier Baez; Javy popped out). It was the Cubs’ sixth consecutive win.
Scott Kazmir allowed only one Cubs hit (a third-inning single by Dexter Fowler) in six strong innings and Joe Blanton and Adam Liberatore completed the one-hitter. Jake Arrieta also pitched well on this night, allowing just two hits in seven innings, but was removed after 107 pitches, and Clayton Richard and Adam Warren (neither of whom, obviously, is still on the team) had a disastrous eighth and ninth inning. Trevor Cahill completed the awfulness of the bullpen by serving up a three-run homer to Corey Seager (with two of the runs charged to Warren).
Kiké Hernandez (who wasn’t on the Dodgers NLDS roster and it’s unclear at this time whether he’ll be on their NLCS roster) homered off Jon Lester leading off the game, on Lester’s second pitch. Lester allowed three other hits, but retired the final 15 Dodgers he faced after a leadoff single by A.J. Ellis (since traded to the Phillies) leading off the fifth. His complete game included 10 strikeouts. The Cubs didn’t generate much offense either; they had just three hits. Fortunately, one of them was a two-run homer by Kris Bryant.
The Cubs turned on the power bats in this afternoon affair, smashing four home runs, including three off Dodgers rookie Julio Urias, who was making his second big-league start. Bryant, Javier Baez, Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo all went deep. Bryant’s ball hit halfway up the left-field video board:
Baez flashed some glove in this game — literally:
Mike Montgomery, making his second Cubs start, threw five innings and allowed three runs. It wasn’t bad, but he walked four, meaning he had to be removed after 91 pitches. Justin Grimm served up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez and it was 4-2 Dodgers after seven.
That’s when Bryant took over. He homered in the eighth, and after Jason Heyward scampered home with the tying run in the ninth on a wild pitch, Bryant hit a two-run homer in the 10th (after a Dexter Fowler single) to give the Cubs the win, with chants of “MVP! MVP!” ringing from Cubs fans in the Dodger Stadium crowd.
This was another one of those games where Joe Maddon had seen enough Jason Hammel by the third inning. Hammel was removed after only 39 pitches, but three runs allowed. Rob Zastryzny, making just his third big-league appearance, threw 3⅔ shutout innings, helping keep the game close. Cahill and Wood threw a scoreless inning each, and a Heyward single brought the Cubs to within one in the seventh. But the Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the eighth and ninth and dropped this one.
For all the great defensive plays Javier Baez has made this season, it was a mental mistake by him that cost the Cubs this game. With two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Adrian Gonzalez hit a ground ball to Baez. Instead of throwing to first to get the slow-footed Gonzalez, Baez tried for the force at second. Ben Zobrist wasn’t expecting the throw and Corey Seager was safe. Here’s Vin Scully’s call:
Two innings earlier, with two out and Cubs runners at first and third, Jason Heyward hit this rocket of a line drive that was snared by Gonzalez. Scully again on the call:
At least one run and possibly two would have scored if A-Gon doesn’t make that grab.
So this season series was well-pitched, and most of the games were close, three decided by one run, another an extra-inning contest. The Cubs scored 19 runs in the seven games, the Dodgers 16, and I’d expect this championship series to be quite similar.