#909 Los Angeles Dodgersvs.#910 Chicago Cubs
Written by Chris Kubala
MLB: Saturday, October 22, 2016, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois, 8 pm ET
Lines: Los Angeles -134, Chicago +124; Over/Under: 7
The best of seven National League Championship Series continues in the Windy City. The Los Angeles Dodgers travel to face the majors’ top team, the Chicago Cubs, in Game 6 of the series Saturday night. Los Angeles looks to force a decisive Game 7 while Chicago seeks its first pennant since 1945. In Game 5 of the series in Los Angeles, the Cubs took an 8-4 victory to regain the series lead, three games to two. The winner of the NLCS advances to face the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.
Los Angeles had their chances to put the Cubs away after winning Games 2 and 3. After blanking Chicago for 21 straight innings, the Dodgers saw their staff pounded for 18 runs in the next 15 innings of Games 4 and 5. Corey Seager was the lone Dodger with two hits in Thursday’s loss as the team totaled nine hits. Carlos Ruiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Andrew Toles and Josh Reddick each had a RBI in the loss. Kenta Maeda recorded a no-decision on the mound with a third straight short postseason start. He threw 3.2 innings, allowing a run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Joe Blanton, who lost Game 1 in relief of Maeda, did the same here to fall to 0-2. He allowed two runs on three hits with two strikeouts in 1.1 innings.
Clayton Kershaw is on the hill for his fifth postseason appearance and fourth start of the playoffs. He’s tasked with keeping the Dodgers’ season alive, much as he was when he started Game 4 and closed Game 5 of the NLDS. Kershaw was 12-4 with a 1.69 ERA and a 0.725 WHIP with 172 strikeouts over 149 innings in 21 regular season starts. In the playoffs, he is 2-0 with one save, a 3.72 ERA and a 1.086 WHIP over 19.1 innings of work. He picked up the win in his last outing, which came Sunday against the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS. Kershaw threw seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits with a walk and six strikeouts. The Dodgers held on for a 1-0 victory. He makes his 10th career start against the Cubs. Kershaw is 6-3 with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.973 WHIP over 53.2 innings. He is 2-2 with a 2.16 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP over 25 innings in four starts at Wrigley Field.
Chicago’s bats came to life in Games 4 and 5 to reclaim the series lead. Now, Chicago has two chances to win that elusive pennant clinching game that they’ve sought since 1945. Chicago battered the Dodgers pitching in the last two games. Javier Baez (run, three RBI, stolen base) had three hits to lead the Cubs. Dexter Fowler (two runs, RBI), Kris Bryant (run, RBI) and Anthony Rizzo (two runs, RBI) each had two hits in the win. Addison Russell (two runs, two RBI) hit a tie-breaking two-run homer, his second of the series, to send the Cubs on their way to the win. Jon Lester was brilliant again for Chicago. He’s 2-0 in the postseason. Lester threw seven innings, allowing a run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
Kyle Hendricks makes his second postseason start for the Cubs here. He was 16-8 with a NL leading 2.13 ERA and a 0.979 WHIP over 190 innings in the regular season. It was a tremendous performance for Hendricks, who was considered the team’s fifth starter coming into the year. He was 12-2 with a 1.55 ERA in his last 19 appearances dating back to June 19. Hendricks boasted a NL best 1.32 ERA at home this year.
Hendricks is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.222 WHIP over nine innings in the postseason. He took a tough luck loss in his last start, which was in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Dodgers Sunday. He allowed one runs on three hits with four walks and five strikeouts over 5.1 innings. The Cubs lost the game 1-0. Hendricks makes his fifth career start against the Dodgers. He is 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA and a 0.829 WHIP over 25.1 innings. This is Hendricks’ 40th appearance and 39th start at Wrigley Field. He’s 15-7 with a 2.27 ERA and a 1.016 WHIP over 230.1 innings.
We saw a well-pitched game by both sides when these two hooked up in Game 2. In that one, a solo homer by Gonzalez provided the lone run of the game. Kershaw is one of the game’s best on the mound and there’s little to dispute there. Dave Roberts may have to pitch him until his arm falls off after seeing the implosion of his bullpen the last two games. Kenley Jansen is rested but no one else is for the Dodgers. Chicago has their swagger back, they have momentum and they have the home crowd. This one is going to be a fight as both teams struggle to scratch out runs. I’ve gone with them the whole series so it seems foolhardy to change that theory now. Chicago, as they’ve done so many times in improbable fashion, finds a way to win.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.