Vin Scully was in attendance for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night and graced Dodger Stadium with his iconic words: “It’s Time For Dodger Baseball!”
The Dodgers sadly did not #WinForVin and dropped Game 5 to the Cubs, falling behind 3-2 in the series.
Those good feelings brought on by Vin’s voice quickly dissipated after the Cubs plated a first-inning run off Kenta Maeda. Dexter Fowler‘s leadoff single was cashed in by Anthony Rizzo‘s double down the right field line. Maeda battled back after walking Ben Zobrist to strike out Javier Baez and Jason Heyward consecutively, but it took 26 pitches to escape the frame.
The Dodgers had an opportunity to tie the game in the home half of the first after Enrique Hernandez‘s leadoff walk. There was a bit of a cat-and-mouse game between Hernandez and Jon Lester, and they very well may have scored if Kiké would have taken advantage of his huge leads and tested Lester by at least attempting to steal a base.
Enrique Hernandez was 23.5 feet off of second base when Lester released the first pitch to Ruiz.
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) October 21, 2016
Other than a two-out walk to David Ross in the second, Maeda recovered nicely to pitch two solid innings thereafter. Things started to unravel a bit in the fourth when Baez started things off with a double and Maeda plunked Heyward with a pitch. Although Maeda has looked fatigued in the latter part of the season and so far this postseason, he was the Dodgers’ most consistent starting pitcher for most of the year. Roberts rightfully had confidence in the experienced right-hander to start him in such an important contest.
Maeda only allowed one run to the best lineup in baseball over 3 2/3 innings while striking out six and walking two on 76 pitches (44 strikes), and that was a win in itself. Roberts went to Josh Fields out of the bullpen with two on and two outs in the fourth, and he retired MadLester on a fly ball to left field to squash the threat and end the inning.
The Dodgers finally had a call go their way in the fifth when Howie Kendrick stole third base after his leadoff double. He was clearly safe, and the call was overturned on the challenge.
Not really necessary, but here. pic.twitter.com/o8saNmGGec
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) October 21, 2016
Adrian Gonzalez, who was the victim of a horridly botched play at the plate in Game 4, promptly drove in the tying run on a weak groundout. He got some help from Kendrick, who had a great jump, and Rizzo who bobbled the ball. Butter and eggs come in many forms.
It was a lot to ask of the Dodger bullpen to hold the Cubs to one run for the remainder of the game coming off the 10-run explosion the night prior. Joe Blanton, who was admittedly fantastic during the regular season, once again blew it in relief for the Dodgers this postseason. Addison Russell‘s two-run shot, the third home run served up by Blanton this series, gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
Addison. Muscle. pic.twitter.com/m7IV0lMeab
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 21, 2016
Lester was dominant over seven innings, allowing one run on five hits with six strikeouts and a walk on 108 pitches (67 strikes).
The Cubs scored five runs in the eighth off the typically lights out Dodger bullpen. Pedro Baez committed an error and couldn’t beat Dexter Fowler to first base on a groundball. Kris Bryant also beat out a throw on a groundball to third base, allowing the second run to score. Then Ross Stripling came in to face Javier, and he crushed a bases-clearing double off the right-field wall.
At that point it really didn’t matter, because the Dodgers’ offense and bullpen were bested tonight. Carlos Ruiz did drive in a run in the bottom of the eighth off Pedro Strop, a double off the center field wall. In the ninth, the Dodgers scored two runs off Aroldis Chapman, who has looked hittable this series. Josh Reddick‘s RBI single and Andrew Toles‘ sacrifice fly were ultimately not enough, and the Cubs once again flexed their muscle for the second straight night.
Now the Dodgers must win two straight games against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Game 6 will be a well-rested Clayton Kershaw start, so it’s within the realms of possibility. But if Kershaw loses on Saturday, the revived narrative will be awful. Here’s hoping for Dodger baseball on Sunday.