Dodgers: NLCS Game 1 Recap

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14: Yasiel Puig /

The Dodgers and Cubs renewed their post-season rivalry on Saturday as the Dodgers won game on 5-2.

While Clayton Kershaw didn’t pitch like the best pitcher in the world, he did enough to keep the Dodgers in the game until they could get to Jose Quintana.  Kershaw went five innings, allowing two earned runs and struck out four.  He was victimized by Albert Amora in the fourth inning who capitalized on a mistake by Kershaw.  Yasiel Puig continued his torrid post-season and knocked in two runs and also hit his first career home run in the post-season.

While Kershaw didn’t finish the game, neither did Joe Maddon, who was ejected in the seventh inning after Charlie Culberson appeared to be thrown out at home by Kyle Schwarber after Justin Turner singled.  After a video replay, it was determined that catcher Willson Contreras illegally blocked home plate and Culberson was ruled safe.  Maddon immediately stormed out of the dugout and was promptly thrown out of the game.  Along with Maddon, the Cub’s offense appeared to leave early as they didn’t score a single run after the two-run home run by Almora.

The Dodgers offense came on home runs by Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor.  Charlie Culberson knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly, and Puig also doubled in a run.  The other run came courtesy of a Justin Turner single in which Culberson was ultimately ruled safe.

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Keys to the win

Production from the bottom of the order – Much like their series against the Diamondbacks the bottom of the Dodgers lineup continues to provide an offensive spark.  Puig and Culberson were the Dodger seventh and eighth hitters in game one, combined to go 3-6 and knocked in three of the five runs the Dodgers scored.  Ultimately, Puig and Culberson outscored the entire Cubs offense 3-2.  With Corey Seager out for the series, the bottom of the lineup could take the weight off the top of the lineup’s shoulders if they continue to produce.

Not the same old Dodgers – Entering the bottom of the fifth inning the Dodgers were down 2-0, and this appeared to be a re-run of the past four years of Dodger playoffs.  Kershaw pitched decently but the offense was going to score little to no runs, and the Dodgers would lose a low scoring game.  Then the Dodgers promptly flipped the script as Yasiel Puig doubled in a run and Charlie Culberson drove in Austin Barnes on a sacrifice fly.  Dave Roberts also produced a career-defining moment for his managerial career by removing Kershaw after just five innings.  In the Don Mattingly era, there is no way he would have taken Kershaw out after only five innings.  Roberts chose to take him out, and the move paid off.

Super Pen – While Kershaw was not able to shut down the Cubs offense completely, the Dodger bullpen thoroughly shut down the Cubs.  The bullpen combined to pitch four innings of no-hit ball and struck out five batters. In fact, not a single runner reached base against the Dodger bullpen in the last four innings.  Deadline acquisitions Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson combined with Brandon Morrow, Kenta Maeda, and Kenley Jansen to hold the Cubs scoreless for the rest of the game.  If these NLCS games come down to a battle of the bullpens, then the Dodgers will likely be headed to their first World Series since 1988.

Next: Keys to success against the Cubs

What’s Next?

On Sunday the Dodgers will send Rich Hill out to the mound to square off against Jon Lester.  Lester threw over 50 pitches of relief in the NLDS, so he is going to be off of his routine.  Rich Hill only made it through four innings in his lone NLDS start so he will look to have a lengthier outing against the Cubs.  The Dodgers have a shot to head to Chicago with a 2-0 lead so winning game two would go a long way in propelling the Dodgers to the National League pennant.