Dodgers 5, Cubs 2: Yasiel Puig & bullpen are the stars in Game 1 win

The Dodgers were victorious in Game 1 of the NLCS over the Cubs, 5-2, which is important since it’s something they haven’t done since 1985. Perhaps most shockingly, after the bullpen has failed Clayton Kershaw year after year in the past, they were the ones that picked him up today with four dominant, flawless innings to hold onto the lead the offense gave them late.

This is good.

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Coming into today’s start, the narratives mainly have changed from “Clayton Kershaw can’t pitch in the postseason” to “Clayton Kershaw can’t pitch after six innings in the postseason”, which is an improvement at least. However, games like today won’t help his postseason resume, as he had terrible fastball command all night, didn’t have much of a slider again, and seemingly refused to throw more curves.

Kershaw gave up only two runs at least, both coming in the fourth on a single by Willson Contreras and a homer by Albert Almora in back-to-back at-bats to start the inning. Still, he labored through 87 pitches in five innings, surrendering just four hits and a walk but seemingly constantly on the verge of worse. Uh, he struck out four, I guess?

Dunno what to say, honestly. It’s hard to win in the postseason when the best pitcher of his generation becomes Ted Lilly in October.

Jose Quintana, pitching on one day of rest after a relief appearance in Game 5 of the NLDS and after his wife had a medical emergency on the plane ride over to Los Angeles, faced the minimum through four and erased the one single he gave up with a double play.

In the fifth, however, things went south in a hurry as Quintana lost the zone. With one down, he issued back-to-back walks to Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes, setting the table for Yasiel Puig. That proved important because Puig is supremely confident, as he appeared to call his shot.

That proved prophetic, as Puig crushed a ball off the wall in left-center field for a double to score a run.

That brought up Charlie Culberson, Corey Seager‘s replacement, and he quickly buried himself in an 0-2 hole and things looked bleak. However, a miracle happened, and Culberson hit a deep fly to left to score a run on a tough pitch down in the zone.

With the score now tied, Chris Taylor untied it in the sixth with the Cubs pen now in by leading off the frame with a oppo dong.

Tony Cingrani was tasked with the sixth, and he continued his excellent work as a LOOGY, getting a ground out. Kenta Maeda then came on and got two more ground outs to get out of the inning. Maeda also started the seventh, getting an out and then being relieved by Brandon Morrow. All he did was get a fly out and a strikeout to end the inning and preserve the one-run lead.

The Dodgers desperately needed insurance at that point, and thankfully Puig was more than willing to oblige, as he hit a towering homer to left to start the seventh.

Comically, Culberson followed with a double down the line in left to get a rally started. Morrow then executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, but for whatever reason Charlie didn’t go to third. That would seem to cost them almost immediately as he would’ve scored on an infield single from CT3. Thankfully, Justin Turner had his back, as he followed with a sharp single to left, but Culberson appeared to get thrown out at home.

On review, however, it was found that Willson Conteras illegally blocked Culberson off from a lane to the plate before he had the ball. While the TBS announcers whined and whined, it was undoubtedly the right call and didn’t change a thing anyway, because if the rule didn’t exist then Culberson bowls over Contreras (and maybe hurts him, which is why the rule exists) and scores anyway.

That provided a nice three-run cushion for the pen to operate, so Morrow was removed for Tony Watson, and all Watson did is start the eighth with two ground outs in a row. That allowed Kenley Jansen to enter against the heart of the order, and he ended the eighth with a strikeout.

Oh and how did the ninth go?

Yeah. Lights out.

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As far as entertainment goes, it was The Puig Show from the start.

When he hit his homer, he gave himself a standing ovation.

After the game, Puig … um … had a different recollection of history.

You’ll have to forgive him.

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After all the talk about momentum for the last month, the Dodgers have now won four playoff games in a row, sweeping the NLDS and jumping out to an important 1-0 lead in the NLCS over the Cubs.

Tomorrow will be Game 2, and it’ll be Rich Hill facing off against Jon Lester, who is on short rest.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama

I get paid millions by the Dodgers.

MILLIONS!