The momentum, just as the Los Angeles Dodgers feared, has shifted. The Chicago Cubs win their second consecutive game in L.A. with their offense working overtime, taking a 3-2 series lead following another impressive performance by Jon Lester, Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo, winning 8-4.
Only two days ago the Cubs seemed to be in big trouble; down 1-2 in the series, coming off two games without a single run and only six hits. But just like in their other poor stretches during the regular season (there were very of them), the Cubs stayed calm, and didn’t change much. They seem quite confident in the talent and depth they have, knowing that it should give them the advantage at some point, and after weathering the storm, they’re back in control.
Lester put in his third ace-like performance of the postseason, this time going 7-inning deep, allowing five hits and one run in the 4th inning, back when the Dodgers were still in the game. After he was taken off in favor of Pedro Strop and Aroldis Chapman the Dodgers were able to make the scoreline look a bit more respectable, but overall, this was another poor showing by the Dodgers bullpen, and more proof that without Clayton Kershaw and possibly Rich Hill, this team is far from special.
Anthony Rizzo continues to get out of his postseason slump using the bat of Matt Szczur. He hit an RBI double in the first inning to score Dexter Fowler, and finished with 2-for-5 in the game. In the 6th inning it was another home run for the scorching Addison Russell, scoring two runs, and putting the Cubs in a terrific position heading into the 8th, and so things continued to go their way: An infield single from Fowler helped Russell score, Kris Bryant drove in Willson Contreras and with the bases loaded, the Cubs had a deep double to right from Javier Baez score 2, giving the Cubs a 8-1 lead. The Dodgers got runs, but didn’t really get back or make anyone on the Cubs nervous in the final two innings. Joe Maddon let his relievers ride out the funk and get through it, which they did.
Now there’s no real question as to who the Cubs will face in game 6 at Wrigley. Clayton Kershaw, who held the Cubs to just two hits in 7 innings in game 2, will take the mound not to close out the series, which was what Dave Roberts was planning in the first place, but in order to save the season, and then hope he actually has a game 7 to prepare for, and then think if he’ll overwork Kershaw alongside Rich Hill or what. But the Dodgers don’t have the luxury of thinking that far ahead.
For the second time in the series, and third in the postseason, Kenta Maeda has been terrible. The problem was the bullpen couldn’t save him, and the offense didn’t get much done until way after it was too late. Ross Strpiling was the one to blame after game 4, but in game 5 it was Joe Blanton who gets pinned with the loss, with his ERA rising to 21.00. The Cubs simply rotate the players they can rely on, they’re that good and deep. For the Dodgers, the same names keep coming up, and in this kind of series, it’s probably not going to be enough.