Cubs make history, beat Dodgers for NL pennant

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Undeniably, emphatically, the Chicago Cubs have made 2016 their year.

And like Al Downing allowing Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in 1974, the Dodgers’ ultimate role in 2016 turned out to be as a springboard to history.

Putting the Dodgers on their heels from the second pitch of the game, the Cubs hosted a nine-inning Wrigley Field parade to a mad celebration of their first World Series in 71 years, capturing the National League pennant with a 5-0 victory.

For the third time in the past 28 years, the Dodgers came within two wins in the National League Championship Series of ending their own Fall Classic drought, their fans’ own suffering a pale footnote to the Windy City celebration triggered by the final out.

Retiring 21 straight batters (aside from a lone Cubs error) between allowing a leadoff single in the first and a one-out single in the eighth, Kyle Hendricks absolutely smothered the Dodgers, who could counter neither with sharp at-bats, sharp fielding or a sharp outing from Kershaw. The lefty allowed seven hits — five for extra bases — over 93 pitches in his five innings.

For an instant — and only that — it looked like the Dodgers’ night. On the first pitch of the game, Andrew Toles singled sharply past a diving Javy Baez into right field. But on the next pitch, Corey Seager hit into a double play, and from that moment on, nothing that mattered went right for Los Angeles.

Leading off the bottom of the first, Dexter Fowler plunked a ground-rule double near the Dodger bullpen along the right-field line. Next, Kris Bryant knocked a pitch dotting the lower-right corner of the strike zone to right for the Cubs’ first run.

Anthony Rizzo sliced a drive to left that Toles tracked. The ball clanked off his glove, allowing Bryant to take third and Rizzo to reach second, and a fault line truly ripped open in the Dodgers’ season.

Beginning with Ben Zobrist’s sacrifice fly for a 2-0 Cubs lead, Kershaw would retire the next three batters to end the inning, but at the total cost of 30 pitches. And the pendulum never swung back in the visitors’ favor.

After the Dodgers wasted another baserunner when Josh Reddick, who had reached on a Javy Baez error, was picked off, Chicago again parlayed a leadoff double to score. Addison Russell hit a shot to the left-field corner, coming around two outs later on Fowler’s RBI single.

You could argue Kershaw wasn’t hit that hard in the first inning, but both Russell and Fowler topped 105 mph with their two-strike hits.

In the third inning, Kershaw pitched around the third Cubs double (Rizzo), but there was no escape from Wilson Contreras’ 105-mph homer down the left-field line to start the fourth, nor Anthony Rizzo’s no-doubt golf shot over the right-field wall with two out in the fifth.

Firmly, the Dodgers were in trouble. Kenley Jansen came into the game in the sixth inning to buy time for a Dodger comeback, capping a remarkable postseason with a career-high three perfect innings.

But at 9:45 p.m. in Chicago, pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig hit into a game-ending double play, and Chicago was in 71st heaven.

10 Comments

Congrats to the Cubs, but that was a pathetic performance the last 3 games by the Dodgers. Lots of changes must be made if they truly want to compete with the Cubs the next few years.

Thanks for all your interactions this year – though sometimes we disagreed, really nice to banter with you.

Thank you Jon. I’ve enjoyed this year more than any since 2004. Didn’t agree with every move the FO made (and that may have been costly), but I’ve always made it clear I’m in agreement with their long term focus.
Hopefully they can retool to stay competitive for next year, as I still think it’s 2018 and beyond that will be fantastic for the franchise and rival the 10+ year period of 74-85.
Looking forward for Urias to be a strong rotation piece for years, and Seager being a perianual MVP candidate.

I really was hoping it to go seven games, but what difference does it make. It would’ve been nice to see the Dodgers go down with a fight but what difference does it make.
Congratulations to the Cubs.
Now I’ve seen everyone of the “original” 16 teams win a pennant.

Thanks for all your comments and readership this year!

And what a year it was! Looking forward to coverage of the up-and-comers in the AFL and as the FO continues its craft. Meanwhile, for those still playing, look forward to an exciting WS.

I don’t think Andrew Friedman is the right person for the job. While I appreciate the long-term focus, Friedman seems to run this team like a small-market franchise without enough money to play with the big boys. We can’t keep bringing im second-rate starting pitchers, in particular, and expect to compete at the World Series level. Plus, we clearly need to be able to hit left handed pitching. I don’t know who would be able to help, but I do know that they need to just go buy an elite bat or two. I have no faith that Friedman will do that. I think he and his team are so focused on on saber stats that they often don’t do the right thing.

If they let Jansen and Turner go because they think they can saber-analyze their way to cheaper replacements, the fans can and should revolt. I have little faith that Friedman will do the right thing. I think Friedman will lowball both.

I won’t disagree with your opinion, but just remember it may be under ownership instructions to cut down payroll, and a way to do that is making hard decisions on letting free agents go.

Saber rattle much? Cleveland was one of the first teams to factor these elements into their decision making and Epstein of the Cubbies is a leader in using the approach to construct his teams.

The main problems were the lack of a real leadoff table-setter (Toles?) and, more crucially, that the starting pitching wasn’t deep enough–lots of people, but not much to them. We went further, frankly, than I think we should have, which is a tribute to Dave Roberts and how he handled the injuries. The Cubs are a deeper, more talented team. Telling statistic last night from FS1: the difference in the Dodger bullpen between the NLDS and the NLCS. The bullpen had some bad days during the season but held up incredibly well considering that Kershaw really was the only starting pitcher who could consistently get beyond the 5th inning.

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