The Cubs should thank Dave Roberts for his help in this win.
Dodgers manager Roberts had Clayton Kershaw on a pitch limit, as Kershaw is still not 100 percent after a DL stint. And thus Kershaw, who had stymied the Cubs on one run in five innings, was removed from the game after 68 pitches.
The Cubs took advantage of the Dodgers bullpen, particularly one of their top young pitchers, rookie Walker Buehler, to post nine runs over the sixth and seventh innings on their way to an 11-5 blowout win. That split this four-game set and won the season series from the Dodgers four games to three. Keep that last fact in mind; it might not mean much to you in June, but if the Cubs and Dodgers meet in the postseason and need a tiebreaker to determine home field, the Cubs have it.
The Dodgers dribbed and drabbed off Jose Quintana, scoring single runs off him in the second, third and fourth innings. An RBI single by Addison Russell in the fourth had made it 2-1 Dodgers before that third run scored off Q. Once again, Quintana didn’t have a terrible outing... it just wasn’t a crisp, good one, 5⅓ innings, seven hits, three walks, three earned runs. He’s going to have to be better than that in the second half.
Walker Buehler replaced Kershaw to start the sixth and it took just two pitches for Albert Almora Jr. to make it 3-2 [VIDEO].
That ball: Crushed!
Barrel: Albert Almora Jr. (2) [CHC] off Walker Buehler [LAD]: 107.7 mph, 23 degrees (Home Run - 435 ft)— MLBExitVelocity (@MLBExitVelocity) June 28, 2018
The Cubs weren’t done in that sixth inning, either. One out later, Willson Contreras singled and Anthony Rizzo doubled him to third. Addison Russell hit a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game.
Steve Cishek replaced Quintana and stopped the Dodgers in the bottom of the sixth.
And then the fun began. Ian Happ led off the seventh with a double and Kyle Schwarber walked. That brought Jason Heyward to the plate; Heyward hadn’t started this game but came in on a double switch when Cishek entered.
J-Hey smacked a double to right-center [VIDEO] to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead. The change in Heyward since he figured out that “hands” thing has been remarkable. He barrels up the bat on almost all his at-bats. There are many few weak grounders to second; even his outs seem to be hard-hit. This is the Heyward we thought we were getting two and a half years ago. Better late than never, right?
This inning wasn’t even close to being over. Buehler was out of the game now, replaced by Erik Goeddel. It didn’t matter, not to Cubs batters, anyway.
Almora, first to face Goeddel, popped a ball up to first baseman Max Muncy, who lost the ball in the tough midday sun. The Dodgers don’t play a lot of afternoon games, so perhaps that was a factor. The ball dropped for a gift infield single; Schwarber scored to make it 5-3.
Then we saw more Javier Baez doing great Javy things. He laid down a perfect bunt along the third-base line and that infield single loaded the bases.
Contreras struck out — the first out of the inning. That brought up Rizzo, who cleared the bases with a long double and the rout was on at 8-3.
Rizzo’s day off Wednesday (which wasn’t a full day off since he entered in the ninth at first base) must have envigorated him. He had four hits and drove in those three runs and hopefully, this is the start of another hot streak for him. Not that batting average means all that much these days, but Rizzo’s 4-for-5 afternoon tacked 10 points onto his BA, raising it from .233 to .243, pretty good for one day’s work in the middle of the season.
Russell put the cherry on top of the seven-run seventh with a two-run homer [VIDEO]. his fourth of the season.
Russell's two-run homer
Addison Russell puts the finishing touches on a seven-run frame. #EverybodyInPosted by Chicago Cubs on Thursday, June 28, 2018
The seven-run inning was the biggest by anyone against the Dodgers all season.
The Cubs tacked on another run in the eighth on an RBI single by Baez. Javy had himself quite a series:
Javy does love LA. With his RBI single in 8th, he's 9-for-16 with 7 RBIs at Dodger Stadium this year. #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 28, 2018
Luke Farrell threw a scoreless eighth but gave the Dodgers a consolation two-run homer in the ninth. That homer tied a Dodgers franchise record:
Justin Turner's 2-run shot gives the Dodgers 53 HR in June, matching their franchise record, set last June— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) June 28, 2018
And it’s not far from a MLB record:
Only 4 NL teams in history have hit more HR in a month than the 53 by the Dodgers this June:— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) June 28, 2018
56 -- 1999 Reds
55 -- 1947 NY Giants
55 -- 2000 Cardinals
55 -- 2003 Braves
MLB record is 58
So the Cubs aren’t the only team serving up homers to the Dodgers this month.
Anyway, after Farrell had thrown 31 pitches, Brandon Morrow was summoned for the final out. He allowed a seeing-eye single, but got Cody Bellinger to fly to center to end it and the Cubs had their hard-earned series split. A 2-6 road trip wasn’t what any of us had envisioned when it began, but splitting a series in a ballpark that’s been very, very tough for the Cubs over the last few years is a fine result, I think.
The win moves the Cubs to within two games of the first-place Brewers. Milwaukee is beginning a four-game series against the hottest team in baseball — the Reds — tonight. Perhaps the Reds can return the favor to the Cubs and sweep the Brewers this weekend.
The Cubs return home Friday afternoon to begin an eight-game homestand. First up is a three-game series against the Twins, the first time they’ve visited Wrigley Field in nine years. Mike Montgomery starts for the Cubs Friday and Jose Berrios will go for the Twins. A reminder of Friday’s unusual starting time: 4:05 p.m. CT. TV coverage Friday is via NBC Sports Chicago.