The three-game series was lauded as an early National League Championship series preview. Yet, after the first two games of the series, the hype has all but died down with the Dodgers having their way with the potent Chicago Cubs. That trend would continue Sunday in the Dodgers 9-4 win over the defending World Series champions, despite the fact the Cubs would finally push runs across the board, roughing up Clayton Kershaw in the process.
Runs were supposed to be at a premium Sunday, with both Jon Lester and Kershaw on the hill. But that proved to be the opposite, as the ball was flying out of Dodger Stadium. The Cubs and Dodgers would combine for seven home runs, with each team totaling 11 hits in the offensive outburst.
“I’ve not seen Clayton like that. We were on him,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon told the Associated Press’ Beth Harris following the game. “It was just one of those days. It’s inexplicable.”
“It sounds like fiction to me,” he added.
The Dodgers would hit four of those seven home runs Sunday, with the first coming off the bat of rookie sensation Cody Bellinger.
With two runners on base in the bottom half of the second inning, Bellinger proceeded to deposit a Jon Lester 2-1 slider into the right field pavilion. The home run gave the Dodgers an early 3-1 lead, following the Cubs pushing a run across in the top half of that inning.
Just when you thought Cody Bellinger might be slowing down.. pic.twitter.com/2yE5PMkyC2
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 28, 2017
The Dodgers would then add on three more runs during the next inning as Kiké Hernandez would connect on a three-run home run on his own. However, the Cubs would soon answer the Dodgers’ 6-1 lead.
Javier Baez’s solo home run in the top half of the next inning was followed by Anthony Rizzo taking the Clayton Kershaw offering into right field, also driving in Kris Bryant. But the two-run deficit would be closest the Cubs would come on Sunday.
The Dodgers would later hit two more home runs off the bat of Austin Barnes and Yasiel Puig, sweeping the now struggling Chicago Cubs in the process.
Following the game, a frustrated Jon Lester pinpointed his poor outing to command issues.
“Just wasted the whole day. I didn’t have command of my fastball on either side of the plate,” Lester said. “I couldn’t really go to any particular pitch to try and bail me out of any trouble.”
Maddon, with a smile, when asked about fans freaking out: “Please, go ahead and freak out .If you want to freak out, freak out.”
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) May 29, 2017
Looking toward the other clubhouse, even though Kershaw was not satisfied with his four and one-third inning, four-run performance, he was pleased with the Dodgers’ offensive performance over the course of the three-game series.
“The offense was great — we made Lester work, too, and put some big swings on the ball with runners in scoring position,” Kershaw told the Los Angeles Times.
“No one gave up a run in this series but me, so it was a good series for us.”
Clayton Kershaw: ties career-high with 3 HR allowed.
He's allowed 10 HR in 2017.
He allowed 8 in 21 starts last season
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 28, 2017
With the series sweep and the defending Chicago Cubs now in the proverbial rearview mirror, until at least October, the Dodgers will now turn their attention toward the St. Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers will embark on a four-game swing at Busch Stadium, sending Rich Hill on the mound for game one of the series. Hill will also look to bounce back against the Cardinals following a May 24 outing in which he surrendered five runs to the Redbirds in four innings of work.
“I just gave them the game,” Hill told Rowan Kavner after the May 24 start.
“Unacceptable. It’s really a tough thing to swallow. I look forward to this week and just getting ready for the next game.”
That chance will come Monday.
[Featured Image by Mark J. Terrill/AP Images]