The Dodgers had a late lead, but fell to the Cubs in 10 innings.
The Dodgers led for most of their series opener against the Cubs. Some untimely wildness and the probably NL MVP gave the Cubs the end.
Bud Norris got a chance to square off the best team in baseball. The gap between the Cubs and the Nationals, who own the second-best record, is greater than the division lead in four of six divisions. Unless they Cub it up in the postseason, there’s a very good shot this team will be in the World Series.
Yet, Norris had a decent outing on Friday. He gave up an RBI single in the first inning after the Dodgers failed to turn a double play. He allowed one baserunner in the next three innings, which gave the Dodgers a chance to take the lead. The Cubs got back on him in the fifth with a pair of walks and an RBI single. In all, Norris had spurts where he couldn’t find the strike zone. He was effectively wild, but the wildness cost him the chance to go deeper in the game.
Norris finished the game with five innings of two run ball. He needed 89 pitches to get through five, as he walked four and struck out six. It wasn’t dominant or particularly pretty, but the Dodgers will take five innings of two run ball from him every time.
The Dodgers scored their first three runs on groundouts. It was that kind of game. They weren’t lighting Mike Montgomery up, but they got runners on, moved them over, and put the ball in play to score.
In the second, Montgomery took a Josh Reddick liner off the leg. That seemed to be the turning point, as he lost control. They couldn’t get many rallies going, but they got runners in scoring position and grounded out to score them three times.
The Dodgers had a 3-2 lead, and Adrian Gonzalez added what looked to be insurance with his 16th homer of the season. However, they stalled on four runs long enough for the Cubs to win late.
The Dodger bullpen and Cub offense is a match made in hell. The Dodger bullpen relies on fly balls and strikeouts. The Cubs strike out at a fairly high rate, but they also destroy pitches at a high rate.
Baseball is illogical: Pedro Baez had the only clean inning for the Dodger bullpen. He was first out of the pen and tossed a 1-2-3.
Kenley Jansen had other ideas, as he allowed a well-hit double to Jason Heyward to start the ninth. Jansen seemed to be off, and the narrative floating around is that has to do with new backstop Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz got on base three times, but Jansen seemed to have more issues than usual in the ninth. He stepped off a few times and talked things over with Ruiz at least once. Who knows if Ruiz being behind the plate made any difference, but Jansen struggled throughout his outing.
After the double, Jansen struck Jorge Soler out. On the K pitch, the ball got past Ruiz to move Heyward to third. Jansen then threw a high cutter that was ruled a wild pitch to score Heyward and tie the game.
After the Dodgers went down in order, Adam Liberatore came on for the tenth, He allowed a first-pitch single to Dexter Fowler, and then allowed a two-run bomb to Bryant. The 6-4 lead held up as Aroldis Chapman threw gas to end the game.
The Giants are playing the Braves. The Dodgers lost a game on the Giants today. The lead in the West is down to one game, and there is a very solid chance the Giants have a one game lead come Sunday.
The Dodgers also have their rotation set for the next three days. Julio Urias gets his second crack at the Cubs tomorrow. Brock Stewart will start on Sunday, and Kenta Maeda will open up the series in Colorado on Monday. Maeda was optioned to Rookie Ball today in a sneaky move. This allowed the Dodgers to activate Ruiz and Stewart. Shawn Zarraga was optioned, and rather than sending a reliever down, they sent Maeda to AZL. Their season ends Sunday, at which point the Dodgers can call him back up without having to wait the usual 10 days.
The Dodgers and Cubs are back at it tomorrow at 1:05. Urias will take on Jason Hammel.