After a miracle yesterday with the Dodgers winning the middle game of a three-game series (even though it was a doubleheader), they completed a sweep of the struggling Cubs tonight on ESPN.
Walker Buehler limited the damage and went deep into the game to save the pen, as the Dodgers continued to tack on runs by any means necessary in a 7-1 victory.
The Cubs greeted Buehler rudely and aggressively, with Rafael Ortega smacking the first pitch for a lead-off double, and just as it seemed like Buehler would escape after back-to-back strikeouts, Willson Contreras drilled a single for a 1-0 lead. Wouldn’t be the only thing he was drilling tonight, but I digress.
As it turns out, that would be all the Cubs got against Walker, and they’d actually only get one at-bat with RISP the rest of the game. Buehler allowed some hard contact, but never gave up more than a baserunner in an inning the rest of the way, going six shutout frames to close things out.
7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 98 Pitches
After a late scratch to Marcus Stroman, emergency starter Justin Steele started off well with two clean innings. While he gave up a single in the 3rd, he then got three ground outs in a row to continue cruising. Fortunately, the 4th was a different story, as a one-out Trea Turner walk was followed by a single from Will Smith deflected off Steele’s glove and the rally was on. After a Max Muncy walk to load the bases, Justin Turner flied a ball to right for a sacrifice fly to tie the game, and then Cody Bellinger legged out an infield single for a 2-1 lead.
Steele came out for the 5th, but during warmups walked off due to what looked like a blister. That brought in Michael Rucker from the pen and he struggled, starting by giving up consecutive singles to Gavin Lux, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman to load the bases. Of all people, Trea then grounded into a double play that at least plated a run, but Rucker uncorked a wild pitch that scored another to make it 4-1.
Rucker walked a batter but got a scoreless 6th. He continued on in the 7th, issuing a lead-off walk to Gavin and then giving up a Betts single to corner things, with Lux being cashed in by a Freeman sacrifice fly to push the lead to 5-1.
After three innings, Daniel Norris took over for Rucker in the 8th and gave up a single but kept the scoreline the same. Adrian Sampson was tasked with closing the Dodgers out in the 9th, and he did, but not before a single from Lux and a double from Freeman, both of whom scored on a Trea grounder that got past Nico Hoerner for an error. 7-1 in one of the weirdest ways.
Meanwhile, taking over for Buehler was Evan Phillips, who mowed the Cubs down in the 8th in 1-2-3 fashion. To finish things off was Robbie Erlin making his debut for the team, issuing a walk, but otherwise completing a drama-free 9th.
Buehler release point graphic.
Muncy got his nuts grabbed for seemingly no reason by Contreras and Justin had the right impression.
Other … stuff.
Talking to Clayton Kershaw is always a good idea.
The Dodgers are now 19-7, which is a 118-win pace, but only a 1.5-game lead over the Padres.
The team will now travel to Pittsburgh for a series with the Pirates, starting tomorrow at 12:35 PM HT/3:35 PM PT/6:35 PM ET, with Julio Urias on the mound against Dillon Peters.