There’s not really a lot to say about this one. The Cubs could have won this game and taken a commanding lead in the series. But they ran into the best pitcher in baseball and they allowed one run, which was all he needed. The Dodgers beat the Cubs 1-0 in game two of the National League Championship Series. The Cubs had two hits. The Dodgers had three and one was a home run.
The narrative that Clayton Kershaw struggles in the postseason has always been a sloppy sportswriter’s trope based on a small sample size. After tonight, I doubt anyone will use it again. Kershaw was dominating tonight, retiring the first 14 batters before Javier Baez singled with two out in the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, Kyle Hendricks was pretty strong for the Cubs himself, although he did have some problems getting calls on the corners. (Just for the record, I’m not saying he was being squeezed. He was just missing. But the strike zone was inconsistent tonight.) But Hendricks held the Dodgers to only three hits, albeit with four walks, over 5.1 innings. Unfortunately, one of those hits was a solo home run by Adrian Gonzalez. It wasn’t even a terrible pitch—but Gonzalez is still a very good hitter.
Carl Edwards Jr. came on for Hendricks in the sixth inning with one out and two on. It was here that the legend of Javier Baez continued to grow. Joc Pederson hit a soft line drive to Baez at second, which he let drop. He confused both the other Cubs defenders and the Dodgers, but the Cubs fielders recovered quicker and Baez was able to throw to shortstop Addison Russell for one out and then catch the runner on second, Gonzalez, in a rundown for a double play.
Baez’s legend almost grew in the seventh inning when he connected on a Kershaw pitch with one on and gave it a big ride to center field. Both Baez and Kershaw seemed to think it was a home run, but in the end, Pederson made an easy play in center field. It was one of many “just missed” opportunities in this game. Earlier in the game, Anthony Rizzo crushed one onto Sheffield Avenue, but it was just foul. It seems the whole game was like that.
Kershaw came out after the seventh inning and that Baez shot that didn’t go out. Kenley Jansen came in for a six-out save and retired all six batters he faced.
The series now travels to Los Angeles on Tuesday where they likely won’t have to face Clayton Kershaw. I didn’t think this series would be easy and anyone who did was fooling themselves. But the Cubs still have the advantage here, despite the home-field advantage now going to the Dodgers. After all, Kershaw will probably get only one more start tonight. But the Cubs bats are going to have to wake up if they want to make the World Series.
And Pluto’s not a planet, Kershaw. Go Cubs.