The Cubs will be hosting the Dodgers tonight after losing Game 2 on Sunday night in walk-off fashion, 4-1. Game 2 felt eerily familiar to Game 1, with the Cubs striking first via a home run (this time compliments of Addison Russell), only to quickly give up the lead the next inning – Charlie Culberson doubled before Justin Turner drove him in with a two out single to right field.
While Jon Lester didn’t last long in Sunday night’s start, he did give the Cubs a chance to win, surrendering just that one run in 4 2/3 innings of work. The bullpen, of course, blew the game late, and now here we are, down two games and desperately looking for the spark that will turn this series around.
The Cubs will look to Kyle Hendricks tonight to turn the momentum in a game that, by all accounts, is a must-win if they hope to return to the World Series. While Hendricks struggled mightily in Game 5 of the NLDS (4 ER in 4 IP) confidence should remain strong in him, as his playoff track record remains quite impressive. Tonight the Cubs will need him to look like he did in the first game of the post-season, when he threw seven shutout innings, outperforming Stephen Strasburg en route to a win.
The Dodgers will be countering with Yu Darvish, a trade deadline acquisition that has been everything LA was hoping he’d be. While maybe not as elite as he once was – injuries will do that to a pitcher – Darvish has pitched quite well in Dodger blue, posting a 3.44 ERA in 49 2/3 IP. In his NLDS start vs. Arizona, he lasted five innings, surrendering just 1 ER as LA swept Arizona out of the playoffs.
What to Look For
It’s paramount the Cubs strike first again. While that hasn’t proven to be effective in each of the first two games, the last thing you want to do is look up at the scoreboard early and see that you are trailing. If Hendricks attacks the zone early we will hopefully see some quick ground outs and infield pop ups – tell tale signs that he is at the top of his game. Even with an off day to rest the bullpen, it’d be ideal for Hendricks to go at least seven innings, as there’s precious little reason to trust this bullpen late in the game.
Offensively, the Cubs must get going early. This begins with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, who suddenly are striking out excessively, swinging at pitches out of the zone at an absurd clip and looking entirely lost at the plate. They are the heart of this team, both offensively and in a general sense, and if they can return to the level of production they’ve become known for, I think we’ll see the lineup clicking. Facing Darvish will be no easy task, however, who has a knack for exploiting hitters that chase pitches out of the zone. If the Cubs are to regain confidence – both in themselves and their chances of repeating – we’ll see a renewed offense tonight.
Broadcast Info and Lineups
First Pitch: 8:01 PM CDT
Radio: 670 The Score & ESPN 1000
- Ben Zobrist 2B
- Kyle Schwarber LF
- Kris Bryant 3B
- Anthony Rizzo 1B
- Willson Contreras C
- Jon Jay CF
- Addison Russell SS
- Jason Heyward RF
- Kyle Hendricks P
TBD as of 3:55 PM (CT)