When Adrian Gonzalez’ first (!) home run of the 2017 season sailed over the center-field wall at Dodger Stadium with a runner on base in the sixth inning Friday night, making the score 4-0 Dodgers, I thought to myself, “This game is over.”
Thus I could have turned the game off and gone to sleep and not watched the last three innings.
Nevertheless, I owe you, the BCB reader, a full accounting of each and every Cubs game, so I continued to watch until Ian Happ’s line drive was caught by Chase Utley for the final out a minute or so before midnight Chicago time. The Cubs indeed did lose to the Dodgers 4-0, and most of that was due to Alex Wood.
Wood, the Braves’ No. 2 selection in the 2012 draft (the Cubs chose Duane Underwood Jr. 18 picks earlier in that round), threw really well in the Atlanta organization before he was traded to the Dodgers in 2015 a deal involving 13 (!) players and a competitive-balance pick. (No, I am not making that up. All the details of that deal are here.)
His problem was that he couldn’t stay healthy. Until now. Wood came into this game with a scoreless-inning streak of 20⅓ innings. Now that streak is 25⅓ innings after Wood’s five shutout innings against the Cubs, during which he allowed singles by Jason Heyward and Javier Baez, both in the second inning. He also issued two walks.
Only one Cubs runner reached third base all night. Ben Zobrist walked leading off the sixth inning against Pedro Baez and made it to third on two groundouts, upon which he was stranded when Happ lined out to left.
Truth be told, Jake Arrieta didn’t throw badly, even though his pitching line shows four earned runs in six innings. Utley also homered off Jake, but Jake struck out nine and walked only one and kept his pitch count reasonable (95 in six innings). Joe Maddon concurs:
Maddon on Arrieta: "He pitched really well. Don't be critical tonight." #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 27, 2017
Utley was called safe on the field, but ruled out on review. You can see Jake’s glove touch first base just before Utley’s foot lands on the bag.
Another excellent defensive play was turned in by Addison Russell, who started this double play in the eighth with two runners on base [VIDEO].
It helped that Gonzalez, a slow runner, was the batter, but that’s one of the better double plays I’ve seen any Cubs team turn in recent years.
Too bad that great defense ultimately didn’t mean anything. Maddon summed this one up pretty well:
#Cubs Maddon on loss to LA: "They just pitched well. A good baseball game, they got homers, we didn't."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 27, 2017
The Cubs got two innings’ worth of scoreless relief from Felix Pena, which is meaningful because it means that the rest of the bullpen got some more much-needed rest. No one in the pen besides Pena and Mike Montgomery has thrown since Wednesday, so they should be well-rested going into the weekend.
Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other guy. Alex Wood threw a really good game and was backed up by home runs and the Dodgers bullpen.
That’s all I’ve got. It’s shorter than most recaps here, but there simply isn’t much more to say to sum things up other than what Maddon said.
The Cubs will try to even up the series Saturday evening. Game time is 6:15 p.m. CT and the game’s on Fox-TV (coverage map). John Lackey goes for the Cubs and Brandon McCarthy for the Dodgers.