The Dodgers needed one swing of the bat to even up the series against the Cubs.
After a rough loss last night, the Dodgers shut down any talk of momentum by absolutely shutting down the Cubs offense. The Dodger offense wasn’t exactly firing, but they got the run they needed and never looked back to even up the series.
Clayton Kershaw SHOVED. This was one of those outings that really felt special. He needed 30 pitches to finish three innings, and his first time through the order, only one ball was really well hit.
Those were the really well-hit balls off Kershaw, who was perfect through 4.2 innings. With two outs in the fifth, Javier Baez stayed back on a curveball and lined a single to end the fun. Willson Contreras followed up Baez’s single with a single of his own, but Kershaw escaped his first jam of the night.
After a clean sixth, the seventh inning blues nearly caught up to Kershaw again. It started with a four pitch walk to Rizzo, and none of the pitches were remotely close. It seemed all-too familiar when Yasmani Grandal failed to catch a fly ball for the first out, giving Zobrist life. However, Kershaw got Zobrist and Addison Russell. With two outs, Dave Roberts went to the mound to check on Kershaw, who talked him into another batter. That batter was Baez, and he crushed a pitch. Must not have been a windy night, as Joc Pederson caught the ball at the wall to get Kershaw through seven.
Kershaw was pulled after that inning, giving him seven innings of two-hit ball. He only needed 84 pitches to get 21 outs, and he struck out six without walking a batter.
So, maybe Kershaw CAN in fact pitch in the postseason?
This was also the most important thing to happen today. Context: Kershaw walking to the dugout after Baez nearly put the Cubs on top.
Kyle Hendrick also shoved in this game, but the Dodgers offense had a good approach again.
After a very quick first inning, Hendricks gave up a leadoff home run to Adrian Gonzalez in the second. That sort of unravelled Hendricks, who lost a bit of command and started pitching a little more humanly.
Hendricks walked a pair of batters in the third, but struck out Gonzalez to escape. Kershaw singled in the fifth and moved to second on a groundout, but was stranded there.
The Dodgers got a pair of runners of Hendricks in the sixth, which forced him out of the game. Carl Edwards came on in relief and got Pederson to sort of line out to Baez, who let the ball drop. Infield fly was not called, so the two runners on base were hung out to dry and Edwards was out of the jam.
Mike Montgomery got in some trouble in the seventh, which is weird as he is left handed. Grandal has swung the bat horribly in the series, but has had some very good plate appearances. He led off the sixth with a walk, and Enrique Hernandez swinging bunted him to second. Montgomery struck Kershaw out, but walked Chase Utley to put another runner in scoring position. However, Corey Seager ripped a ball right at Zobrist in left to end the threat.
The Dodgers threatened against Aroldis Chapman in the eighth with some small ball. Pederson led off with a walk and stole second. Grandal laid a perfect sac bunt down to move him to third with one out, but Hernandez flied out to shallow center and Yasiel Puig tried to bunt a high fastball. Chapman, if you haven’t heard, throws the ball with great velocity. It ended up being a popup to end the inning.
Kenley Jansen relieved Kershaw in the eighth. He got a pair of strikeouts and an easy fly ball to end the eighth.
He remained in for the ninth and had to deal with the heart of the order. Jansen struck out Dexter Fowler and Bryant (with a generous strike one call) and got Rizzo to line out to end the game
For the second straight series, the Dodgers have stolen home field advantage. They gave it up right away in the NLDS, but now have three games at Dodger Stadium. If they hold home field here, they’re on to the World Series.