The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles Dodgers NLCS Game 3
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Jake Arrieta (Cubs) vs. Rich Hill (Dodgers)
Back in 1948, the NL pennant-winning Boston Braves leaned heavily on two aces: Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain. The Braves’ dependence upon them led Boston Post sports editor Gerald Hern to write this little poem:
First we’ll use Spahn
then we’ll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
by two days of rain.
For the 2016 Dodgers, it’s kinda like this:
First we’ll use Kershaw
Then we’ll use Jansen
Then we’ll engage in a whole bunch of dancin’
Then we’ll start Kershaw
Followed by Jansen
And maybe Rich Hill unless blisters need lancin’
Eh, I’ll work on it.
Unlike the ALCS, this one is still a series with any number of possible outcomes. We’re tied at one after Miguel Montero‘s heroism in Game 1 and Clayton Kershaw‘s dominance in Game 2 and now we get to see what the back end of the Dodgers rotation is made of.
Rich Hill is not a back end starter, not this year anyway, but he has as many questions about him as a number 4 starter might have in such a game. Those deal primarily with his durability. The Dodgers won his last start, Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals, but he only pitched two and two-thirds innings and the victory required Kenley Jansen working to the extreme extent of his capacity and Clayton Kershaw coming in in relief. That’s not going to happen here. Prior to that his woes with a blister on his finger have cut into several starts and had him shelved for long stretches this season. The Dodgers want to win this game, of course, but another short start from Hill will cause Dave Roberts to use his bullpen liberally and that will have some big consequences when Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda come back around in the rotation.
The Cubs starter has far fewer questions about him. He has faced the Dodgers twice. The last time he faced them in Dodger Stadium all he did was toss a no-hitter against them in 2015. The last time he faced them at all, in Wrigley Field back on May 31, he tossed seven shutout innings. The Dodgers have their work cut out for them against the reigning Cy Young Award winner.
The ALCS seems all but over. This one feels like it’s just beginning.
“We haven’t had many games like this,” Dodgers manager Dave Robert said after last night’s loss to the Yankees. That’s for sure.
There were no wild walkoff hits. There were no home runs by Dodger batters. There were two, including a grand slam, from Didi Gregorius, however, and he and New York batters pounded Hyun-Jin Ryu, perhaps the stingiest pitcher in baseball this year, for seven runs on nine hits in four and a third as the Yankees beat the Dodgers 10-2 in Dodger Stadium.
Aaron Judge, who has been slumping something terrible, opened up the scoring with a solo home run in the third. Two batters later Gary Sánchez matched him with a blast of his own. An A.J. Pollock RBI single in the bottom half of the inning made it a 2-1 game but after that the Yankees stepped on the gas with a five-run fifth highlighted by a Didi Gregorius grand slam. Gleber Torres would homer in the sixth, Judge would single home a run in the eighth and Gregorius would strike again in the ninth with a solo homer for his second blast of the night. That one gave the Yankees 57 bombs in the month of August, which sets a team record. There’s still a week left in August too.
As for the Dodgers, Ryu was uncharacteristically rusty, though it probably should be noted that this was his second poor outing in a row. struggled through his second straight sub-par outing. The last time out he lost to Atlanta. allowing all four Braves’ runs in 5 2/3 innings as the Dodgers fell 4-3. His ERA came in to this game at a still-MLB-best 1.64, but those seven runs in fewer than five — his shortest outing in nearly two months — puffed it up to an even 2.00.
The Yankees scored just nine runs in their three losses in Oakland. Last night they beat that by one. And they brought themselves to within one game of the Dodgers for the best record in all of baseball, which would determine home field in the World Series should these two powerhouses meet.
For now, though, Roberts is limiting the implications of all of this to Friday night, saying “fortunately, it only counts for one loss.” Yep. But man, it was an ugly one.