LOS ANGELES, Calif -In a game dominated by pitching headed into the bottom of the ninth inning, the stage was set for something special to happen offensively. With Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor on base via the walk, Justin Turner got to have that backyard moment that we all dream about. He smashed a John Lackey pitch over the centerfield fence for a home run and a walk-off victory. This also gave the Dodgers a commanding 2-0 lead in the NLCS as the series shifts to Chicago for games three, four and five if necessary.
Turner talked about the big home run, as it is on the 29th anniversary of the magical Kirk Gibson home run in the 1988 World Series. “I’ve told this story I don’t know how many times since I’ve been a Dodger. One of my earliest baseball memories was being at my grandma’s house and watching that game. And watching Gibby hit that homer. I can’t even put into words right now. It’s incredible. The most important thing obviously helping us get another win. That’s something down the road hopefully many, many years from now I’ll get to tell stories about.”
As mentioned it was the 29th anniversary of Gibson’s magical home run in franchise history, manager Dave Roberts talked about that. “It’s very cool. And J.T. we were talking about it in there after the game. But it’s unbelievable. It’s wild. 29 years to the day. It was special. Our guys feel it. We feel it.”
Game 2 of the NLCS on paper had the making to be a pitchers duel. Both Rich Hill for the Dodgers and Jon Lester for the Cubs did not disappoint. Both southpaws had their footprints on the game.
Hill was cruising through the first four innings, only allowing one hit to Jon Jay to lead off the game. His seven strikeouts showed just how on he was.
Lester, was equally impressive allowing just one hit to Cody Bellinger during the same span. However, he did allow three walks and only had two strikeouts. Lester was not giving in and was not afraid to put runners on base to get the matchup he could exploit.
In the fifth inning, Addison Russell blasted a solo home run to left, giving Chicago the lead, and the first run of the game. This was the only mistake allowed by Hill.
The line on pitching line on Hill, five innings, three hits, one run, one walk, eight strikeouts on 79 total pitches.
Roberts talked about replacing his starter. “I don’t think where we’re at right now in the postseason is a pitch count thing for any of our guys. You’re essentially counting outs and trying to get the best matchup for your guys. It goes back to the trust that we have in our pen and for each of our starters. It’s a matter of giving everything you have for as long as you can. And what we do on an offensive side is to pass the baton. That’s the same thing for a starter, to go as hard as you can. For me, I just felt good with (Josh) Fields, (Tony)Watson, (Brandon)Morrow and Kenley (Jansen), so the guys we can kind of matchup, I felt good about.”
Not to be outdone, Los Angeles scored a run to tie the game in the bottom of the inning and in the process knock out Lester. Turner singled home Charlie Culberson. The Cubs turned to Carl Edwards Jr. in order to get the last out in the fifth. He would pitch a perfect sixth as well.
Lester pitched 4.2 innings, allowed three hits, one run, five walks, two strikeouts on 103 total pitches.
From the fifth inning on, it was a battle of the bullpen. The Cubs first went to the pen and Edwards Jr pitched 1.1 innings, escaping a jam reliving Lester. Out of the four outs he recorded, three were via the strikeout.
Manager Joe Maddon talked about his reliever’s outing. “That’s what we’ve seen on a more consistent basis this past season. In Washington, the performance wasn’t as good. But for the most part what you saw tonight came out like 97, 98, 96. The second inning maybe down to 96, but made some really good pitches.”
After Edwards Jr., Chicago used Pedro Strop, Brian Duensing and John Lackey. Duensing was charged with the loss, even though it was Lackey who surrendered the home run to Turner.
The Dodgers used Morrow, Fields, Watson and Jansen. Jansen was credited with the win.
With the game tied 1-1 in the ninth inning and playing on the road, normally the consensus is to put your closer in and try and get to extra’s having the offense get another at-bat. Maddon talked about his reluctance to use Wade Davis. “Because I really needed him for the save tonight. He had limited pitches. It was one inning only and in these circumstances, you don’t get him up and then don’t get him in. So if we had caught the lead, he would have pitched. That’s it.”
Next up, both teams have an off day on Monday as the series shift to Chicago for Tuesday’s game three. First pitch scheduled for 6:00 pm MST. Chicago will send Kyle Hendricks with Los Angeles sending Yu Darvish.