That was no fun. I thought baseball was supposed to be fun?
The Los Angeles Dodgers shut out the Chicago Cubs tonight, 6-0, to take a two games to one lead in their best-of-seven series. Games four and five will be played in Los Angeles tomorrow and Thursday.
The Cubs offense has gone missing over the past two games. Yesterday it was Clayton Kershaw. Today it was Rich Hill, who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since returning from independent ball last August. Hill had a vicious curve ball that the Cubs simply could not do much of anything with. Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta pitched a pretty good game, even though you couldn’t tell it from the scoresheet. He gave up four runs on six hits over 5+ innings. But he gave up a an RBI single to Corey Seager on a 1-1 count (more on that later) and then gave up a two-run home run to Yasmani Grandal on what was, honestly, a good pitch. It reminded me of Daniel Murphy’s home run off of Arrieta in last year’s NLCS, to tell the truth. It was a low pitch that Grandal managed to just golf out.
Arrieta gave up one more home run to Justin Turner to lead off the sixth inning and then he exited.
Meanwhile, the Cubs bats managed only two hits off of Hill, both by Kris Bryant. They did get a rally going in the second inning when both Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Soler walked and went to third on a passed ball. But Addison Russell and Miguel Montero were unable to make Hill pay.
Mike Montgomery gave up a run in the bottom of the eighth inning, but it really didn’t make any difference. Except that it was more embarrassment.
I want to say something about the strike zone of home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom. I hate it when fans complain about the strike zone. I really do. But Cederstrom had no idea whether Hill’s curveball was over the plate, so it looked like he just flipped a coin. The Dodgers got their first run when on an 0-1 count, Jake Arrieta threw a pitch right down the lower-third of the strike zone. Cederstrom called it a ball. With a 1-1 count instead of an 0-2 count to Seager, he lined a pitch that Arrieta got up to right field for the first run of the game. This isn’t just me complaining: these terrible calls were confirmed as awful by GameDay. Cederstrom wasn’t intentionally throwing the game to the Dodgers and I’m not saying I know that the Cubs would have done better with a real strike zone. But it was hard to get anything going for the Cubs when they had no clue what was and wasn’t a strike.
Whatever the problem is, the Cubs are struggling at the plate. Certainly Kershaw and Hill were part of the problem. But the team needs to find out what the rest of the problem is by tomorrow to get back in this series.
Speaking of which, the NLCS is not over. Plenty of teams have fallen behind 2 games to 1 in a best-of-seven series and come back to win. So let’s keep the “Wait ‘till next year” cries silent until at least after tomorrow.
And the Cubs should be favored tomorrow. John Lackey is going for the Cubs and Julio Urias will start for the Dodgers, but I expect to see Johnny Bullpen pitch most of the game. If the Cubs fall behind 3 games to 1, I’ll admit they are in a lot of trouble. But after today, they are just behind but it’s still early. The goal was never to sweep three consecutive series. The goal is to win three consecutive series.
Let’s get them tomorrow.