NLCS 6: LAD vs. CHC — And we have a World Series…
Well, we have a World Series, ladies and gentlemen. It’s going to be a Great Lakes series of sorts bouncing from Lake Erie to Lake Michigan, the Mistake by the Lake to the Third Coast, C-land to Chi-town. And what’s cool about that is that neither team has won a World Series in a really long time, so somebody’s streak will be coming to an end really soon. (More after the recap).
The Dodgers certainly did everything right “on paper”. They sent in their best starter Kershaw. They lined up their best, most consistent power-hitters. They worked on their defensive strategies. And yet, as baseball isn’t played “on paper”, none of that went their way tonight in Chicago, especially with the roar of the Wrigley crowd in their ears all night. The Dodgers were looking for a win to force a game 7, while the Cubs were looking for a win to send them to Cleveland on Tuesday.
The Cubs got their wish.
In a very unusual turn of events, Kershaw just struggled off the gate tonight, right from the 1st inning. Fowler hit a ground-rule double to kick off the inning, before scoring on Bryant’s single. Rizzo hit the ball into left field, and thanks to a bad fielding error, ended up with Bryant in scoring position. Zobrist’s sacrifice fly scored Bryant before Kershaw finally got the final 2 outs of the inning.
And in the 2nd, Russell led-off with a double and then scored on Fowler’s single, and Contreras led-off the 4th with a solo home run into the left field seats. And to cap off the scoring, Rizzo hit a 2-out solo home run in the 5th inning. Basically, it was a nightmare that Kershaw could not wake up from all night. He threw 93 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up a big 7 hits and those 5 runs, and striking out just 4 Chicago batters.
Kershaw’s reliever Jansen breezed through his 3 innings in just 30 pitches, shutting down the Cubs for the duration. But the Dodgers offensive struggles continued.
On the flip side of things, the unassuming Hendricks blasted his way into the 8th inning, giving up just 2 hits and no walks, striking out 6 LA batters. And more importantly, no runs allowed. Yes, this starter flew under the radar, with only local Cubs fans knowing his greatness until he shines on the biggest stage possible and glide the Cubs into the World Series. Chapman finished out the game with a 5-out outing in 15 pitches.
The Dodgers never did find their footing tonight, and that in the end is what cost them a trip to the World Series this year.
Final score: 5-0 Cubs, Cubs win NLCS 4-2.
Wrapping up the NLCS: Due to their outstanding contributions, the NLCS granted a tied MVP award to veteran pitcher Lester, whose 1.38 series ERA for Games 1 & 5 is scary impressive, even for the postseason, and to rookie infielder Baez, whose contributions include his strong offense, instinctive base-running, and stellar defense.
- Championship series predictions:
- ALCS: Blue Jays over Indians in 6 games.
- NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers in 5 games.
- Championship series realities:
- ALCS: Indians over Blue Jays in 5 games.
- NLDS: Cubs over Dodgers in 6 games.
- Championship series results:
- ALCS: 0-for-1 (including game projections)
- NLCS: 1-for-1 (not including game projections)
- World Series predictions:
- WS: Indians over Cubs in 6 games. (Because I’ve seriously underestimated them the entire season and especially this postseason, so maybe they’ve actually got something here.)
Now, the Cubs haven’t been to a World Series since 1945, but haven’t won a World Series since 1908. Comparatively, the Indians haven’t been since 1997, and not won since 1948. In other words, both teams are aching for this next week, and their fans are awaiting the dreams and hopes of bringing that championship back home. Most of their fans weren’t even alive when their team last won their World Series (especially Chicago’s and unlike most Yankee fans, for example).
Either way, one Midwest long-time underdog team is going to make history next week, and it’s going to be something worth watching.