– The Rays and Yankees have split the first two games of rain-shortened
three-game series, and Andy Sonnanstine and Andy Pettitte will go in
the deciding game tonight. Sonnanstine is 4-5 with a 7.07 ERA, but he’s
turned in two nice outings in no-decisions against the Bombers this
year, allowing four runs in 12 1/3 innings. Pettitte, who was matched
up against Sonnanstine on April 15, has also faced the Rays twice and
received two no-decisions. He gave up eight runs in 13 1/3 innings
between those two outings. Carlos Pena has owned Pettitte, going
11-for-33 with four homers against the left-hander.
– Scott Feldman, who has picked up victories in each of his last
three starts, will try to improve to 6-0 by beating the Blue Jays. He’s
yet to pitch seven innings in any of his starts, but he’s been getting
great bullpen support, even when the runs haven’t really been there.
Casey Janssen, who is 1-2 with a 5.82 ERA in three starts since joining
Toronto’s rotation, will be the opposing starter. He was solid in his
first two outings, but he needs to bounce back from a poor showing
against the Angels last week in order to guarantee his continued
presence in the rotation.
– Nate McLouth gets to take on his former team just five days after
being sent from the Pirates to the Braves. He’s one of four former
Pirates on the Atlanta roster, which is pretty unusual for a team that
has 13 players either homegrown or at least having never played for
another major league organization. Mike Gonzalez and Jeff Bennett were
both drafted by the Pirates, and David Ross also served a stint in the
Game of the Night
San Francisco vs. Florida – Just four days after picking up win No.
300, Randy Johnson will go for No. 301 on short rest. He’s allowed
three runs — two earned — in 17 1/3 innings over his last three
starts, and he’s 8-1 with a 1.78 ERA against the Marlins in his career.
The opposing pitcher will be 22-year-old Sean West, who has a 3.31 ERA
in three starts since being called up last month. West is 6-foot-8, so
tonight’s matchup will rank tied for second on the list of tallest
opposing starting pitchers. The matchup between the 6-foot-10 Johnson
and the 6-foot-9 Daniel Cabrera ranks as the biggest. Cabrera versus
fellow 6-foot-9 hurler Mark Hendrickson had stood alone in second.
After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.
The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).
Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.
With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.
Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.
With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.