Don’t look now, but the Dodgers are surging. Entering Saturday’s contest against the Chicago Cubs, the club has been victorious in seven of their previous nine ballgames. That trend would continue Saturday, with the Dodgers’ 5-0 victory over the defending World Series champions.
Brandon McCarthy got the nod for the Dodgers and proved to be dominant once again. He threw six innings of two-hit baseball, before being pulled with what manager Dave Roberts called “a little tendinitis.”
In fact, it wasn’t until the fourth inning that McCarthy would give up his first hit of the ballgame. It came with two outs and Chicago’s Ian Happ in the box. Happ promptly drove the McCarthy offering into right-center field, but would later be thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double.
The bottom half of that inning, however, is when the Dodgers bats first started to come alive. John Lackey quickly fanned Yasmani Grandal and Adrián González before Kiké Hernandez smacked a line drive double into center field. The double marked the first Los Angeles hit of the evening, as well as foreshadowing the unraveling of John Lackey.
Lackey then walked Cody Bellinger, allowing Chase Utley to single in Kiké Hernandez to give the Dodgers a one-run lead.
The very next inning saw the Dodgers emerge with a four-run outburst that would be highlighted by Chris Taylor connecting for his sixth home run of the season.
The fifth inning rally continued with Yasmani Grandal and Kiké Hernandez reaching base before a surging Chase Utley would once again add some RBIs to the back of his baseball card, singling in both Grandal and Hernandez, giving the Dodgers a five-run lead and plenty of insurance runs for the rest of the contest.
Following McCarthy’s exit, Ross Stripling would enter the game and continue to Dodger’s shutout for the final three innings, allowing Stripling to pick up his first career save in the process.
“Our guys aren’t getting too high. We know we’re good, we’re playing good baseball, and it is definitely nice knowing you have your ace going tomorrow,” Dodgers’ Manager Dave Roberts told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times following Saturday’s game.
When asked about Brandon McCarthy and the knee tendinitis that forced him to leave the game, Roberts indicated that it was an easy decision to take McCarthy out.
“I think it’s been something that’s been lingering a little bit,” Roberts told MLB.com.
“After the sixth, where he was at, for me it was an easy decision to not try to push it and potentially put him in harm’s way.”
The Dodger victory marks the second straight loss for the Cubs, as well as their fourth in the past eight games.
“They’ve really made very few mistakes against us, and we have not taken advantage of anything,” Cubs Manager Joe Maddon told the Daily Herald.
“We’ve hit some balls well, but they’ve been foul balls. Otherwise, our contact has been rather weak for the last two days. Under these circumstances, my perspective is they pitched well.
“It’s not always our fault sometimes. It’s what they’ve done well. They’ve pitched well.”
Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist, who is currently day to day with a wrist injury, says the team is not panicking despite its 25-23 record.
“It’s always tougher the second time because everybody is gunning for you, and your expectations are even higher than before.”
“But this team is definitely equal to the task,” he said.
The Cubs and Dodgers will now play the final game of the three-game set on Sunday, in a contest that sees the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw going up against Jon Lester. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 local time.
[Featured Image by Chris Carlson/AP Images]