It took six three-game series this season, but the Dodgers have finally taken a 2-0 series lead and will look for a sweep in the third and final game.
After putting up four runs on just one hit in the 2nd, Mookie Betts tacked on a pair of insurance runs with two out in the 9th with a 402-foot homer to left and the Dodgers capped off Saturday’s doubleheader with a 6-2 victory.
As expected, the Cubs were forced into a bullpen game to complete Saturday’s doubleheader and it sure looked like the Dodgers were going to squander a perfect opportunity to take advantage early on.
Though Daniel Norris opened the game with a 1-2-3 1st inning, the outs were recorded on exit velocities of 100.6, 97.9 and 106.8 mph. Those were xBA of .430, .340 and impressively .670 on Trea Turner‘s 362-foot lineout. Norris took a turn in the other direction in the 2nd, avoiding contact completely with a stretch of 11 balls on 12 pitches.
Walking Will Smith, Max Muncy and Justin Turner, Norris struck out Cody Bellinger with a slider before giving way to Keegan Thompson after 32 pitches across 1 1/3 IP. Thompson put the Cubs just an out away from escaping the inning, striking out Chris Taylor on a curve to cap off a four-pitch at-bat. But somehow, out of all people given his 60.1 career Swing% that ranks 2nd among the 977 players on FanGraphs’ career list, Hanser Alberto resisted a few cutters and fastballs down in the zone to bring home Smith on a four-pitch walk and tie the game 1-1.
Alberto’s walk made it four walks and a pair of strikeouts for Dodgers’ batters in the inning, allowing Betts to finally put the first ball of the inning in play. On the 34th pitch of the inning, Betts pulled a 3-2 cutter from Thompson down the left-field line to clear the bases with a two-out double.
Unfortunately, the offense went quiet for the next four innings as Thompson settled in for 2 2/3 innings and Chris Martin retiring the Dodgers in order in the 5th. Justin and Bellinger each drew walks in the 6th, putting the team’s total at eight for the game, but the team remained at just one hit through eight innings.
Responsible for the only hit of the game to that point, Betts stepped in against David Robertson, the seventh pitcher of the game for Chicago. With Gavin Lux on first thanks to the ninth walk of the day for the Dodgers, Betts sent a 82 mph curve from Robertson 104.6 mph off the bat for an absolute no-doubter.
As for Tyler Anderson and his 51.4 Whiff% changeup, it was another solid outing for the 32-year-old lefty with a few odd plays in right leading to a pair of triples and really just one considerable mistake.
The first run came across in the 1st and just 11 pitches into the game. Ahead 1-2 against Willson Contreras to open the game, Anderson fell behind 3-2 with a change on the lower outside edge of the plate called a ball. Naturally, Contreras cashed in the extra pitch as he sent a fastball the opposite way off the glove of Betts for a triple. A grounder to Muncy off the bat of Ian Happ brought Contreras home, with the throw just slightly pulling Smith’s glove away from home and the tag coming down almost simultaneously as the hand crossed the plate.
A two-out double by Nico Hoerner put one on in the 2nd, but Anderson’s next true challenge came in the third. Betts slightly struggled to field a ball bouncing off the wall along the foul line in right, with Seiya Suzuki reaching third for the second triple by the Cubs. However, after a walk and a pop out to first, Anderson struck out Frank Schwindel to strand runners on the corners.
The only other run off of Anderson came with one away in the 5th, as Contreras hammered a sinker over the plate 420 feet to left for a solo homer to make it 4-2.
Anderson’s final line of 5 IP, 7 Ks, 1 BB and 4 hits allowed included another 50% Whiff rate on his change. Generating 9 misses on 18 swings at the pitch, Anderson wrapped up 3 of his strikeouts with the pitch. Another 5 misses on 11 swings came against his cutter, with 3 strikeouts finished with it as well.
Daniel Hudson took the 6th and Brusdar Graterol pitched the 7th with the two needing a combined 16 pitches to get six outs. Graterol stuck around for the 8th, working past a leadoff single by Contreras to put away the next three batters. Ahead 0-2 and 1-2 on Happ and Nick Madrigal, Graterol went 101.4 and 101.5 to strikeout out the two looking and swinging respectively.
Craig Kimbrel entered in the 9th, giving up a walk and a single before bouncing back for three straight outs. One of those was a 379-foot flyout to center by Jason Heyward that went 104.6 mph off the bat with a .930 xBA. That seems completely normal.