A Bit of a Downer--Dodgers 5 Cubs 2

The Cubs had such a promising start to the evening. Jon Jay went down quickly on strikes to Clayton Kershaw, but a Kris Bryant single and Anthony Rizzo walk gave the Cubs an early scoring chance. Willson Contreras struck out looking and Albert Almora hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning. Jose Quintana was sharper in retiring the side in order. Kershaw matched Quintana's first. Quintana gave up his first hit of the game in the second inning, but the Logan Forsythe single was quickly erased on an inning ending double play.

A Jose Quintana single was the only drama in the third inning between the two teams, but the Cubs would strike first in the fourth. Willson Contreras led off the frame with a solid single, and Albert Almora hit a line drive home run to left to give the Cubs the early 2-0 lead. Kershaw retired the next three batters. Quintana was rolling as well at this point as he faced the minimum through four innings. That was the high point of the game.

The Cubs could not eke out a single base runner as they faced Kershaw for one more inning. Than it was Tony Cingrani retiring Anthony Rizzo before Kenta Maeda retired three batters. Brandon Morrow ended the seventh inning, and Tony Watson got the first two outs of the eighth inning. Kenley Jansen was perfect on the way to the Dodgers victory.

Jose Quintana ran into trouble after striking out Kike Hernandez to start the fifth inning. Forsythe and Austin Barnes drew back to back walks. Yasiel Puig ripped a double that ran off the base of the wall in left to score Forsythe. Charlie Culberson hit a deep fly to tie the game. Pinch hitter Kyle Farmer ended Kershaw's evening and the Dodger fifth.

Joe Maddon was again quick to the pen inserting Hector Rondon into the game before he had to make a change for a pinch hitter. Charlie Taylor greeted Rondon with a solo shot to give the Dodgers the lead. Rondon struck out Justin Turner. Mike Montgomery was the next hurler, but his postseason struggled continued with a shaky performance in the sixth. Cody Bellinger singled. Hernandez flew out, but Monty walked Forsythe to create some drama. Austin Barnes flew out to end the inning.

The seventh inning was the decisive frame as the Dodgers put the nails in their first NLCS victory of 2017. Yasiel Puig hit a high fly ball that just carried past the left field wall to make it a 4-2 game. Culberson doubled next, but remained at second due to the aggressive fielding of Anthony Rizzo on the Brandon Morrow sacrifice bunt attempt. Taylor hit a groundball single to end Monty's night. John Lackey finally made a postseason appearance. Justin Turner hit a grounder through the left side. Kyle Schwarber came up with the ball quickly and fired home. Willson Contreras caught the ball and tagged Culberson before he reached home plate. The play went under review and it was ruled that Contreras didn't give Culberson a lane to reach the plate with his leg. Culberson was ruled safe and the Dodgers had a 5-2 lead. Joe Maddon was incredulous and had his night ended a little earlier than the Cubs by arguing his case. Lackey retired the next two batters to keep the game close. Lackey put up another zero on the board in the eighth inning, but it didn't matter as Kenley Jansen remains really, really good.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Quintana's Night
It was so good to start. The confidence felt as Quintana mowed through a dangerous lineup. Then he lost the feel for the strikezone suddenly. A big strikezone tightened at inopportune times as well, but the Dodgers did enough to get the game tied. I was disappointed that Joe was not willing to trust Quintana for another frame. The bullpen has been shaky and is absolutely decimated by the game on Thursday. They also only had two fresh arms in John Lackey and Hector Rondon. The bullpen stayed shaky, but it probably didn't matter as the very good Dodger bullpen took care of the Cubs lineup.

Jon Jay at the Top
The Cubs had just four hits on the night. They had one walk. Very few hitters looked good when that happens, but Jon Jay deserves a mention. Even when the bats are struggling he consistently puts together solid at bats. Part of why Clayton Kershaw was out of the game as fast as he was the pitch count. Jon Jay had one of his typical Jon Jay at bats as he fouled off several pitches to make Kershaw sweat. That is why he is a valuable presence in the lineup even when he doesn't make it on base in the game.

Battle of the Bullpens
The Dodgers have a clear edge in the bullpen. Kenley Jansen is just insanely good, but their depth is going to be a challenge. There isn't going to be a need to insert starters as relievers for the Dodgers. There is no Joe Blanton to hit a grand slam off of either this year. The Cubs are going to have to do damage against very good starting pitchers, and Jon Lester is going to have to be October Jon Lester tomorrow to escape L.A. with the desired victory.

Random Reference
It wasn't what we hoped for, but the Cubs survived the night without the pen being too damaged. Hector Rondon, Mike Montgomery and John Lackey didn't pitch particularly well, but the Cubs should be set up well for the rest of the series. So lets be happy for a night.

Comments

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  • I don't think the Cubs bullpen was *that* bad tonight, but going up against a Dodger relief crew that can put up zero after zero on most nights leaves no margin for error. Weird feeling after this one..far more chill than I would have been if the Cubs had lost game 1 a year ago.

  • In reply to JTWilson:

    I agree the bullpen was not that bad last night. They only gave up 3 ER in 4 inning. Excellent work actually.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Since when is 3 ER in 4 innings excellent? Oh, wait, your being sarcastic.

    Montgomery, in particular, has been (surprisingly) down right atrocious in each of his three post season appearances:

    2 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 2 HR, 5.50 WHIP, 22.50 ERA

    Atrocious! Awful! Terrible! What happened to him? Thank goodness he got that out to win the WS.

  • Maddon couldn't wait to get Almora out and insert his buddy Z. Shameful.

  • In reply to veteran:

    Almora was hitting the ball hard and does a tremendous job defensively in center.

  • If we’re going to win this they’re going to have to beat the starting pitching. They’re aren’t going to be miracle comebacks against the pen. That means KB, Rizzo and Baez have to step up. We can beat Hill tonight. He has a nasty curve but it’s not unhittable especially second or third time through

  • There is enough mustard in the world to cover Puig.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Many of my non-Cub fans say the same thing about Baez.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    I buy that. The WBC caught stealing was as hot doggy as it gets. And I loved it. Love the personality of these young players. Baseball doesn’t need to be stale just to appease the median age of fans who only want the kids to get off their lawn. We need more Javy’s and Puig’s and Harper’s if we want baseball to graduate beyond a regional sport targeting retirees.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    It doesn't need to be a three ring circus either. Puig and Baez could tone down there need for camera time just a smidgen.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    I love the enthusiasm, yet loathe the show-boating, and I think that is a fundamental difference between Baez and Puig. Javy's swagger is raw emotion and fun during the execution of a great play, not pre-planned or contemplated after the fact. His no-look tag in the WBC was giving credit to a teammate, as he often does. Puig's antics are often all about "look at me", such as his uncalled-for curtain call yesterday. That is what turns many fans, and even teammates, off.

    I think it all comes down to intent and motivations, and fans can tell the difference.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I think that sums it up pretty good bp.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    You can’t determine someone else’s intent without knowing that individual personally. Both players are exciting. To search for some reason why Baez is justified where Puig isn’t screams of homerism.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    Wrong Stubbs. You just want to argue for the sake of arguing. Barley explained it very well -- th subtle difference.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I imagine that subtle difference that you both pretend to be obvious is not so apparent to fans of other teams.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    If you say so, Stubbs.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    MLB.com ran a tournament to determine the "funnest" player in baseball in September, based on nationwide fan voting. Javy won the whole thing, and Puig wasn't even considered for the competition. I don't think the differences are all that subtle to the majority of fans.

  • Jansen’s gonna be a problem for years to come. Dude is filthy, can go multiple innings, and appears to have a rubber arm.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    I hoped that the cubs signed him last year. Playoff closers now need to be in for more than one inning. While Davis did that the other day, his injury history is still concerns me about his ability to do that back to back.

    Which is more concerning, the bullpen or the offense?

  • In reply to 2Toes:

    I desperately wanted him too. For me it’s been the pen all year; I’m not surprised at all by the playoff meltdown considering this hasn’t been a lockdown pen since somewhere around mid-May. The Dodgers staff is good enough to shut down the best offenses. Need to win the games when you get 2 off Kershaw, but I don’t trust our pen to keep anyone off the board for 4 games out of 7. Just not realistic.

  • Game changed with the 2 BB's to the bottom of the order. Those guys hit down in the order for a reason. Cannot walk them. Forsythe abd Barnes cannot get on base via walk. Q was filthy to that point.

    Offense needs more than 2. TC said it best. Bryant, Riz, among others need to step up. We need some clutch hits.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Agreed - we need the players who are seen as the leaders to be leading... at the moment who would you rather have facing a critical at bat with the game on the line... Goldschmidt, Votto or Rizzo...?

    It’s been a while since I’ve had the confidence they Rizzo could even put in a sacrifice fly when needed. Yet you look at the other teams we’ve faced recently and you see players like Braun etc constrantky able to at at least move batters over.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    Goldy and Votto are better players than Rizzo. That shouldn’t discount his leadership ability or the times he’s delivered for this team throughout his career. I’d rather see 2001-2004 Barry Bonds at the plate than Rizzo too. Or 1927 Babe Ruth. Suggesting Rizzo isn’t as good or clutch or whatever as the best players in the game is like saying the Jazz would’ve rather had Michael Jordan than Karl Malone. Duh.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    When you are demanding to be respected and declaring yourself one of the best current hitters in the game, it kind of puts pressure on yourself to perform.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    Who cares if votto and goldy are better hitters? That has nothing to do with this series and the Cubs. Last time I checked both players are watching Rizzo.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    As I said, when Rizzo declares himself to be one of the best hitters in the game - which would put him on a par with the others mentioned, he needs to start backing it up.

    The Cubs can’t afford to have Rizzo, Bryant and Baez continue swatting at flies. Start playing some small ball and stop trying to kill every ball that is pitched at them.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    Baez has always been, and will always be an offensive liability. Like a blind squirrel he’ll stumble upon a nut here or there, but he’s not someone to count on to anchor your offense.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    No one is counting on Baez to "anchor" the offense. He bats 8th after all. And saying things like he's a blind squirrel -- despite a .272 regular season batting -- is consistent with your usual over the top statements that nearly always lack credibility. And such statements are much harder to take when we're in a foul mood like this morning.

  • In reply to TTP:

    What foul mood? I’m downright chipper this morning. He mentioned Baez in the same breath as Bryzzo. I thought my response was therefore fair. You disagree and that’s cool. I don’t need credibility. I’m a chemical engineer commenting on a blog, not a journalist. I have as much right to have an opinion as you do through your rah rah countdown comments. Who’s really in the foul mood?

  • In reply to TTP:

    Oh, it's me, for sure. I'm definitely in a foul mood over so much of what happened last night after Almora's homer. Of course, you have a right to your opinions. I'm just noting that because they often lack credibility and so over the top in negativity, they're not worth much at all compared to the others on this site. But they are often entertaining -- especially your in-game comments and predictions sure to be proven wrong. I just don't enjoy them on a day like today when even the most rah-rah amongst us are in a state of gloom, a state not helped by you throwing shade at Javy and Rizzo who I'm counting on to turn this around.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I'd rather Rizzo had not declared himself, but he definitely is a leader and he is our leader. I don't know how you can figure him to not be clutch. Did you not see the previous series? He needs help, because not even Votto can do it every time. In general, the Cubs need to break out the their bats soon.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I was simply countering his questioning of Rizzo’s leadership because he supposedly can’t be counted on as much as players who are better than him. I didn’t bring up Votto and Goldy.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    https://youtu.be/E6tVVH7xww0

  • I stand by what I said that this series is just gravy to me. I also would like to provide hindsight to my two areas of concerns prior to the game. Schwarber should not have started as he hits .175 (now less) against lefties. On top of going 0 for, he also missed the chance to catch that HR shot just over the wall. I believe it could have been caught by a more accomplished OF. As far as Q starting, while he did falter early and I believe it was directly related to him having pitched the other night, I think it was the right call. Had Lackey started, it would have thrown off the rest of the playoff rotation so I feel like I was wrong.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Why is this series gravy to you?
    Isn't the teams goal to win it all? They are not content jut making it to the playoffs. Get greedy and want to win each and every year.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Don't get me wrong, I want them to win !!! I fully understand that getting back to the playoffs next year is NOT a given so you MUST try and take advantage of each and every opportunity that you have. But honestly, after winning it all last year, I am not going to let it consume me as I did in the past. That's all I was trying to say.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    There will never be anything that compares to the first title in 108 years. Even if they won the next 10 years in a row 2016 will always be the special year. With that said anything less than winning it all is a failure

  • I guess that I am one of the 3-1/2 people that like the rule requiring the catcher to give a lane if he does not have the ball. I would much rather give up that one run than watch Willson carried off on a stretcher (see Posey, Buster, 2011) or suffer a career ending shoulder injury (see Fosee, Ray, 1970).

    (Not to take anything away from the great throw by Schwarber or the great play by Contreras).

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    I’m with you. I’d rather let the run score than lose Contreras for the series, or worse.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Seems like fans are forgetting that Contreras would have been run over and could have been injured badly. The rule has preventing many collisions and injuries.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    No, I'm with you too on this.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    I've never liked the rule. I do find it ironic that,with a rule designed to protect catchers, the guy usually hurt by an overturn is the catcher.

  • I'm proud of this Cubs team overall. They've battled through a lot of down years and/or average years from their players. I can't think of one player who outperformed expectations and many who didn't meet them. So to even get to this point is (IMO) a true victory.

    That being said, I hope that Jed/Theo are able to address the bullpen and SP this offseason. It's going to be an interesting one as I see a lot of holes that need to be plugged on this staff, particularly in the bullpen. But as we know, bullpens are fickle things... we traded for a good arm this summer in Wilson who ended up being a total dud.

    But all is not lost.. there's still hope that they have some more magic left for this year.

    Let's go Cubs!

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    One of the biggest holes appears to be Schwarber.

    I love the guy, but is his value ever going to be above average to a NL team when deducting his defensive runs cost from his overall offensive benefits.

    I want to see Almora starting very game in CF next year and maybe a creative trade can get us something more than worthwhile for the future in exchange for Schwarber and bring back Jay to platoon in left-field.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I couldn't disagree more. The guy is one of the best hitters to come from the minors where he dominated. He comes up and crushes the ball as a rookie and then has a great post-season. And all the while playing a new position. He then gets his knee destroyed in a collision and misses 7 months and then plays a key role to win a World Series. Gets off to a bad start after nearly missing a full year of facing MLB pitching. Schwarber goes down to make some adjustments and comes back to post a 135 wRC+ afterwards. And despite his struggles hit 30 HR. This guy is a fantastic hitter and is only getting better. And you would rather see Jay play more? Wow!!! That's a bad decision and would be going to wrong direction, IMO.

    The black holes on offense are Russell and Heyward as they offer no AVG, OBP, or SLG.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    How about a Real Leadoff man?????

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Add Javy and his 0.000 / 0.056 / 0.056 postseason slash line to your black hole. Time for Javy to grab some bench and let Ian Happ or TLS have a go?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    A SSS post season reply? C'mon man. ( couldn't resist with football season). :-) I could come back with Baez NLCS MVP. A run saved is the same as a Solo HR. Javy's play vs Turner was sick and counted just the same as a HR.

    Baez had a solid and improving regular season. And has been atrocious this post-season, I'll concur. The conversation was not about this post season, but rather a long-term view of Schwarber. Russell has been awful as a hitter for 3 years and Heyward has been anemic. Those are the real issues, not Schwarber IMO.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Russel more likely to come through in the clutch than MVP Bryant on any given day.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    Perhaps you want to look at some stats -- Russell's .189 average in high leverage situations this season. Or the fact he left more runners on base than any hitter in baseball in 2016. Not sure how any of that lines up with "clutch" and claim superiority over Bryant.

    The thing you will find is "clutch" is arbitrary and often victim of very small snipets. Both have had some moments.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I thought your last sentence (RE : Russell and Heyward in the offensive black hole) was referring to the postseason. My bad.

    That said, SSS or not, Javy has one walk in 18 PA this postseason. When Joe calls to ask my opinion later this afternoon, I will tell Joe to sit Javy and let the man take a few deep breaths.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    He has had a bad post season thus far. No question. I can't argue that. I was responding to the OP who wrote he would move Schwarbs and then want Jay in a platoon. I feel that would be a mistake.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Schwarber is a poor defensive player and has hit for a low average but has great power. He would be an ideal trade chip to get a cost controlled starter

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Why trade our pieces for pitching when we have nearly $75MM to spend? We just got Quintana at a high cost.

    Theo and Jed have shown willingness to spend on proven pitchers, so I don't think that changes.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    There really aren’t any though after Arrieta and Darvish.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    It is hard for me to give up on a guy whose postseason line drive DENTED the Washington RF wall and whose postseason HR is permanently enshrined atop the Wrigley RF scoreboard.

    Rather, I note that Kyle's resume only includes 45 games as a minor league OF and 155 games as a MLB OF. Maybe you're giving up on Kyle too soon? And how about that throw to the plate last night?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Not giving up on Schwarber but he is destined to be an AL player. Need to trade value to get value

  • Joe has now taken Lester and Q out of games twice a piece in the last week when we were tied or in the lead. All four times, it backfired. All four times, Joe felt, thought, sensed they were out of gas and would have failed if given a chance.

    Gosh darn it, Joe, how about sticking with Lester and Q for at least another batter or two and giving them the chance to succeed or fail? Why give a weak and highly suspect bullpen that same chance to fail or succeed?

  • In reply to TTP:

    I'm not going to say that you are wrong, but managers lose more taking out a pitcher one batter too late than too soon.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Of course, I'm not saying Maddon is always right either, as I have called him out a time or two(what do I know), but we have one of the best managers is the game. Joe has especially been successful this year getting to this point.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Amen! It is so hard to watch and understand his thinking. The bullpen is a wreck. Who wouldn't rather see Q or Lester or Hendricks stick it out for one more inning...it was only the 6th! Relying on that pen for 4 innings of SHO ball is not realistic.

    And Rondon... o boy.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Congrats, TTP. In 4 short years, you have gone from posting about throwing your shoe through your television to posting "Gosh darn it." Funny how going to the postseason 3 years in a row and ending the curse mellows us ....

    :)

  • After watching John Fox and staff blow this game and set football back 75 years, I feel real good about Maddon. Could the Cubs and Bears be any more opposite as organizations?

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    47 runs to 13 passes in regulation. And this is with the #2 pick who obviously isn't nearly the player Watson is. Is Trubisky's new name Appel?

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