On this episode of “Dugout Blues,” Jared and I recap recap what was a pretty eventful first game of the National League Championship Series.
Before the game even started there was a seismic event. Corey Seager was left off the roster because of a back injury he sustained in Game 3 of the NLDS. Charlie Culberson replaced him, if that can even be a thing. Losing one of the best players in the game may seem like a gut punch, but the Dodgers are built to withstand even the biggest of injuries.
Clayton Kershaw got the start and, at times, looked like his normal self. At other times, he looked like the guy who wasn’t invincible. And he wasn’t, as Albert Almora hit a 2-run home run in the fourth inning to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. It was the only runs Kershaw gave up all night, but it still put a damper on the first half of the game. He went five innings and Dave Roberts did great to remove Kershaw after five innings (even if his hand was forced a bit in the bottom half of the fifth). He’s learning!
The Dodgers clawed back behind Logan Forsythe, postseason superstar Yasiel Puig and the aforementioned Culberson. After five, the game was tied at 2. Chris Taylor homered to lead off the the sixth, and the Dodgers would never relinquish the lead.
The seventh inning saw some controversy, but not before a Puig home run. He is playing as well as any non-Jose Altuve player in the postseason. And if you read Chad’s recap from last night, you know Willson Contreras was called for blocking the plate (after a review) that allowed Culberson to score from second on Justin Turner‘s single. This comes down to player safety, which is why the Buster Posey rule was put into effect. If you don’t like it, go watch a more violent sport. Players running over the catcher is not in the spirit of baseball. If you’re mad about the rule, tough. Things change and evolve, so get over yourself.
Anyhoo, the Dodger bullpen — Tony Cingrani, Kenta Maeda, Brandon Morrow, Kenley Jansen — did not allow a base runner in four innings of work. After the Dodgers took the lead, the outcome of the game wasn’t really in doubt.
Game 2 starts in about five hours. Rich Hill takes on Jon Lester, who is throwing on pseudo short rest as he threw 55 pitches just four days ago in Chicago. We’ll see if that has any impact on his performance. Just know the Dodgers will continue to execute their offensive game plan: Make the pitcher work.
No questions today, but we wanted to send our warmest thoughts and prayers to the Culberson family, as Charlie lost the person he called his grandmother yesterday. He still went out and played a key role in Game 1. It was an incredible performance under the circumstances and a great tribute to her.
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