The Cubs won Game 4, and avoided the sweep. Now they have to win three more times for that to victory to mean anything besides that, and the first of those new obstacles comes in the form of Clayton Kershaw.
They’ll send Jose Quintana to the mound, so it’s not as if they’re showing up unprepared. However, Wade Davis is likely out unless he’s sacrificing his arm to the cause, as he recorded seven outs just to make sure there was a Game 5 in the first place, and probably doesn’t have any pitches left in it for Thursday.
As usual, to catch up from the beginning of the live blog, scroll down to the “1st inning” header and work your way back up.
Mike Montgomery is still on the mound for the Cubs, and he’ll be facing Cody Bellinger first. Bellinger has had a good day overall, but strikes out here in the ninth. That brings up the cleanup hitter, Yasiel Puig. He singles in a hurry, and gets the sign to not steal while the Dodgers are up 9-1. Puig has a lot of energy to expend, okay? Sometimes you have to remind him to slow things down.
Well that’s just unnecessary. Hernandez hits his third dinger of the game, and now it’s 11-1, Dodgers. That ties Hernandez for the most in a single LCS game, and his seven RBI today give him the record for most in a single LCS game.
Brian Anderson makes a good point on the broadcast: Hernandez can keep all of the balls he made history with tonight, as it’s Wrigley tradition to toss back homers by opponents.
Montgomery keeps things from escalating again by striking out Joc Pederson with two runners on. The Cubs are now down by 10 runs, have three outs left to score 10 runs, and have to do so against Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers want to put another exclamation point on this clinching game.
Jansen sure doesn’t care who is at the plate: he gets Kris Bryant on a line out to left. Anthony Rizzo flies out to right. And now Chicago is down to their final out, with Willson Contreras up to bat.
Charlie Culberson just made a great play at short to end it, and the Dodgers are going to the World Series for the first time since 1988! They win the game 11-1, and the series 4-1.
Mike Montgomery is entering the game for the Cubs, and he’ll face the bottom of the Dodgers’ order. Charlie Culberson, Maeda’s spot, and then the top of the order and Chris Taylor are due up this inning. Chances are good there will be a pinch-hitter for Maeda, with the Dodgers then moving to whoever they feel like giving the eighth inning too. Zobrist and Happ are due up next inning, and both are switch-hitters who will bat lefty to take on Maeda, so there’s no real reason for keeping him in.
Charlie Culberson just hit a triple, and you know someone out there is mad that he didn’t stop at second with the Cubs already down by this much. Remember when Culberson wasn’t even supposed to be here, but then Corey Seager couldn’t play due to injury? That seems to have worked out alright in the NLCS.
Montgomery was able to keep Culberson from scoring and adding to the deficit. The Cubs are still down 9-1, with two innings to change that.
Here’s Morrow, facing Ben Zobrist. Morrow has been lights out in this NLCS, but you knew that if you saw me mention the 21-consecutive scoreless innings by the Dodgers’ bullpen this postseason.
Ron Darling, who is so bad at this, is currently letting the Cubs off the hook for their NLCS performance by saying the Dodgers are just that good. The Cubs are pretty good, too! They also had their manager make weird decision after weird decision with the rotation, bullpen, lineup, and double switches, and it all caught up with Chicago in a hurry.
Cubs fans, I know this is rough, but if the Dodgers do indeed advance, take solace in the fact that you don’t have to listen to another TBS broadcast until the 2018 postseason.
Zobrist strikes out, and Happ follows that up with a ground ball single to center. He’s still stranded at first, as Almora then strikes out, too, and here’s Schwarber to try to narrow this gap as much as he’s allowed to in one at-bat.
Brandon Morrow might be good at this whole relief thing. Schwarber strikes out, the runner is stranded, and Chicago is down to their final three outs.
Puig grounds out to begin the seventh, with Duensing still on the mound. Hernandez walks, so the Dodgers have another baserunner, but there are also two outs here. Austin Barnes goes down on a called strike, and that makes three.
The Cubs will send Willson Contreras, Addison Russell, and Javier Baez to the plate this inning, but they won’t be facing Kershaw this time. Instead, the trio of right-handers will be facing Kenta Maeda, who I should probably mention allowed righties to hit all of .214/.257/.351 against him since coming to the states.
Contreras hits a foul ball real deep, but, as said, foul. Maeda then strikes him out, so there are just eight outs left for the Cubs. That’s as many outs as they are runs behind, if you’re counting. Seven outs left now, thanks to Addison Russell swinging at the first pitch.
Maeda finishes off the inning with another punch out, and not only do the Cubs have just six outs left to them in 2017, but the Dodgers now have 21 scoreless relief innings in a row.
Bryant and Rizzo combine for a nifty defensive play with am impressive catch on a hop followed by a short throw and good stretch/grab by Rizzo at first. Then Brian Duensing, the new pitcher for the Cubs after Lackey was pinch-hit for, gets Justin Turner to fly out to left.
Hey, that’s two innings in a row the Cubs have kept the Dodgers from scoring. They’ll need to keep that up if they’re to have any chance of making these last 12 outs count.
Yeah, sorry, we’re in the out-counting phase. Normally I don’t like to start until nine at the earliest, but we’re dealing with an eight-run lead here in an elimination game, so. You understand.
Almora leads off for the Cubs here in the bottom of the sixth, and flies out to Puig to begin the frame. Kershaw is still only at 81 pitches — one wonders what kind of leash Dave Roberts has on him at this stage, as finishing the sixth leaves three innings for Brandon Morrow, Kenley Jansen, and whomever Roberts wants to put with them.
Schwarber bunted to get on, and it worked — he’s at first, and now Kris Bryant, the lone source of Cubs’ offense tonight, is up. He hits a grounder to Turner at third, and that cuts down the lead runner. Bryant is safe at first, but the Cubs lost an out, and they don’t have a whole lot of those left in 2017.
Anthony Rizzo might want to think about respecting the shift, as it set him down for the third time tonight. Still 9-1, Dodgers, and the Cubs are now down to nine outs.
Kris Bryant shows off the defense he learned with those extra couple of weeks in the minors, and Austin Barnes is out to begin the fifth. That’s the most exciting thing that happened in the top of the fifth. Listen, it’s 9-1: you don’t need to know that Charlie Culberson is out again right now.
Javier Baez strikes out against Kershaw, and Zobrist follows that up with a line out. Tommy La Stella pinch-hits for John Lackey, ending his night, and the Dodgers have a mound conference to discuss La Stella, but Ron Darling wonders if it’s because Kershaw is wincing and in pain and doomed, dooooooomed.
Ron Darling might be good during Mets’ games but he is flat-out garbage on these postseason broadcasts. Kershaw sits La Stella down, and he’s through five innings on 77 pitches.
Chris Taylor has a single to lead off the fourth, and he’s been on base three times already tonight. Ben Zobrist just screwed up in right field, if only there was some way anyone could have seen this coming before it happened.
Ben Zobrist is 36 going on 46 out here and Maddon is starting him in a must-win game.— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) October 20, 2017
I get that he’s one of your guys, Maddon, but he’s also burnt toast.
John Lackey is on the mound for the Cubs, by the way. He’s responsible for these two baserunners — well, Zobrist is responsible for the second — and Willson Contreras just missed a ball in the dirt that let them advance to second and third with Puig at the plate.
There’s one out, as a grounder gets Taylor tossed at the plate despite it not being a force play. That brings up Forsythe with two on, and Bellinger now at third. It doesn’t even matter, because Forsythe just missed hitting a dinger to left, and instead drove in both baserunners to make it 9-0.
Good news, though! The Cubs figured out how to get Hernandez out, so that’s the end of the torture for now.
Schwarber strikes out to begin the inning, but the budding no-hitter and shutout are now over, as Kershaw gives up a solo shot to Kris Bryant. 9-1, Dodgers. There’s still a lot of baseball left! I just can’t imagine a team with Kenley Jansen fully rested is going to let that matter.
Kershaw also gives up a single to right field, but gets out of the inning with a grounder, and it’s still 9-1, Los Angeles.
See, Chris Taylor gets it. He’s six pitches into an at-bat against Quintana. Pitch seven is a liner into left field and into the stands: a ground-rule double. A runner in scoring position for Justin Turner is not something the Cubs were hoping to see: Turner is batting .423/.545/.769 this postseason.
And now he’s hitting better than that, as he drives in Taylor with a long single to right field. 3-0, Dodgers. Bellinger follows it up with a single of his own, and things are not looking great for the Cubs early on in this must-win affair.
Pitching coach Chris Bosio is here to try to stop this through the power of tactical conversation. Let’s see how this plays out.
Puig gets a hit, the bases are loaded with no outs, and Hector Rondon is now pitching in the third inning. It did not play out well.
Remember when Hector Rondon couldn’t get himself into Game 2 of the NLCS when Maddon felt compelled to use John Lackey on consecutive days for the first time in his career? Yeah, this is... not good if you’re a Cubs fan. They aren’t doomed, but a wrong step here and Rondon is going to take this entire team down the cliff with him.
Rondon starts things off well enough, striking out Forsythe to keep the bases loaded and make it so a double play ends the inning instead of making it 4-0.
Well, scratch all that: Hernandez just emptied the bases with a grand slam, and it’s 7-0 Dodgers in the third inning.
The rest of the inning was uneventful, and now the Dodgers are back on the mound while the Cubs suddenly have a serious deficit to overcome. Kershaw still looks like the version of Kershaw Chicago could not afford to see, and he strikes out Ben Zobrist to kick off the bottom half of the third.
If you’re wondering what kind of fan of baseball I am when I have no true rooting interest in a postseason matchup, well:
It's a stadium full of people questioning every life decision that brought them to this moment. It's pure, uncut sports pain.— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) October 20, 2017
Almora just got robbed of extra bases by an over-the-shoulder catch by Chris Taylor, and Kershaw is through a 1-2-3 third.
In the second, Quintana will tackle Enrique Hernandez, Austin Barnes, and Charlie Culberson. Not literally tackle. Well, unless this game takes an unexpected turn, anyway.
Kiké Hernandez hits a first pitch homer on a 92 mph fastball that did not fool him. It’s 2-0, Dodgers. Austin Barnes also sends one out to center, but Wrigley Field contains that fly ball for the first out of the second.
Culberson is also out in a hurry, and this inning, despite the homer, is making life a little easier for Quintana. He’s only thrown six pitches, and already has two outs. Clayton Kershaw tries to make things a little worse for Quintana and gets to four pitches, but he’s retired, too. Quintana finishes off the inning after 36 pitches, and the Dodgers are now up 2-0.
Not only is Wade Davis unlikely for relief work tonight, but so is Jon Lester:
FYI, if this game is close late/Cubs with lead, etc., Lester is NOT available, says Maddon.— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) October 20, 2017
It should be all hands on deck, but some of the hands are a little too tired for that. That’s not a criticism, by the way.
Charlie Culberson just made a goofy-ass play at shortstop where he launched himself forward, landed on his butt — see, literally goofy-ass — then spun and threw an accurate lollipop to first to get Willson Contreras out.
Addison Russell followed this up by flying out on the first pitch. I guess the reward for working Kershaw hard is facing the Dodgers’ bullpen, so... swing at pitches you like when you get them, I guess.
Javier Baez strikes out, and we’re through two.
Jose Quintana pitched well in Game 1, giving up just two runs over five innings, but he’s going to have to go deeper today to keep Chicago from having to go to a bullpen that just doesn’t have a ton of options in it — or, at least a ton of options that can stop the Dodgers’ lineup.
It’ll be Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger coming to the plate in the top of the first for the Dodgers.
Before TBS is no longer an option for viewing postseason games — FOX has the World Series, and a Dodgers’ victory could end TBS broadcasting until 2018 — I want to take a moment to complain about their scorebug. It bothers me that their second base marker is a lighter shade than third and first base, because if you look quick it makes it look like someone is on base when there is no one on base. It’s worse on phones and laptops than on television, but still.
Anyway, Chris Taylor walked to open up the game, and it took nine pitches to get there. This was a poor time for Justin Turner to strike out, but hey, he can’t do everything every time.
Luckily, Cody Bellinger is here to help, as he hits a triple to drive in Taylor, and it’s 1-0 Dodgers already. Quintana is at 20 pitches, has just one out, and is already down a run. That’s an inauspicious start for the Cubs, who need some length from their starter to compensate for the lack of Wade Davis today.
Quintana recovered, however, getting Yasiel Puig to pop out, and then snagging a comebacker from Logan Forsythe to end the inning.
The Cubs send Albert Almora Jr., Kyle Schwarber (despite the lefty starting), and Kris Bryant to the plate in the first. Little bit of a lineup shakeup! Almora hit a dinger off of Kershaw in Game 1, and then was removed from the game in a double switch, and the Cubs didn’t score anymore runs. Makes you think.
Almora isn’t quite so productive this time around (hey, it’s early), as he strikes out against Kershaw to start the bottom of the first. Schwarber is holding his own despite the platoon advantage of Kershaw, working a 3-2 count against the lefty ace. And then Kershaw misses with the last pitch, and Schwarber is on first with a walk. It was a ball, but not by much, so Tim Welke might have a pretty by-the-book zone tonight.
Kris Bryant, batting in the third spot instead of second, hits into a groundout, but Schwarber manages to make it to second base. Now here’s Rizzo, batting fourth instead of third. The Cubs, by way of the broadcast, are 1-for-30 in their last 30 opportunities to drive in a runner in scoring position.
Make that 1-for-31. Still 1-0, Dodgers.