LOS ANGELES, Calif – The 2017 National League Championship Series (NLCS) features a rematch between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers. These two teams met in 2016, with the Cubs winning the series in six games.
This year’s NLCS features to be different, as the Dodgers are MLB’s best team on the regular season with 104 wins, and dominated the regular season matchup between the two teams. They swept Chicago in May (26-28) and won one game at Wrigley Field, outscoring them 22-11 in the total games played.
The game started out as a pitchers duel, with Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers and Jose Quintana for the Cubs. Both pitchers matching each other with zeros.
With Albert Almora Jr. in the starting lineup for the Cubs, he quickly made manager Joe Maddon look like a genius as he laced a two-run home run to left in the fourth inning, giving Chicago the lead and the first runs of the game.
Almora Jr. was starting over Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward. Maddon talked about him. “Albert just hits lefties. That’s all that is. Albert’s really done a nice job at that. He’s been swinging the bat really well. He’s playing at a really high level. He’s slowed the game down. Moving forward, Albert’s going to be a really really good everyday Major League Baseball player.”
Quintana, playing in his first postseason, making his third appearance and just his second start pitched like a seasoned veteran early on with his pitch control and execution, limiting the high power Los Angeles offense.
Then came the fifth inning and Quintana clearly was not the same pitcher. After walks to Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes, Yasiel Puig made it hurt with a double to chase home Forsythe with the Dodgers first run of the game. A sacrifice fly by Charlie Culberson would tie the game at 2-2. Culberson is in the starting lineup as Corey Seager was left off the NLCS roster with a back injury.
In the sixth inning, he was the spark plug for Los Angeles to make an impact, and that he did. Chris Taylor jumped on a pitch and drove it over the center-field wall, giving the Dodger the lead, their first of the game. His manager Dave Roberts talked about him not letting the moment get too big, and coming through in big moments. “He’s done it all year for us. I think CT (Chris Taylor) is one of many guys are just winning players. He carries himself well. Doesn’t get too high. Doesn’t get to low. He has poise. In big spots, he has the ability to zone in and swing at strikes and take balls. So to get that big home run to right-center really didn’t surprise us. Just another thing to add to his special season.”
Taylor made a name for himself this season, re-inventing himself into not just an everyday player, but a run producer from the leadoff spot with a career-high 21 home runs and 72 RBI. Earlier in the game, Taylor just missed hitting a home run, hitting a ball to straightaway center-field. He talked about both. “I thought I got the second one a little bit better. A little more flush, I hit them both good, but I had a good feeling on the second one.”
Not done, Los Angeles added on in the seventh inning with two runs, highlighted by a solo home run off the bat of Yasiel Puig. Justin Turner singled home Culberson, who reached with a double. On the play, Culberson was originally called out on a play at the plate, however with no clear path to the plate, rule 7.13. Manager Dave Roberts challenged the play, and the call was overturned. Cubs manager Joe Maddon came out to argue and was ejected for arguing.
Maddon talked about the play and the ejection after the game. “I saw a great baseball play. I saw Schwarber come in on a grounded ball, use his feet perfectly. Make a low great throw to the plate, that could have been cut off if we needed it to be. Great play by Contreras. The ball kind of taking Willson towards the line towards foul territory. He catches the ball and his technique was absolutely hundred percent perfect. I could not disagree with the interpretation of that rule. However, I will defend the umpires. The umpires did everything according to what they have been told, but from day one I have totally disagreed with the content of that rule.”
Kenley Jansen pitched the last four outs for the Dodgers to get the save and preserve the 5-2 victory.
Next up is game two of the NLCS. Rich Hill takes the mound for the Dodgers with Jon Lester for the Cubs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:38 pm PST.