The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Cubs Fall To Dodgers 5-2 In NLCS Game 1 As Bullpen Buckles Again

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 15, 2017 5:01AM

Well, that stung.

The Cubs fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 in Game One of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night at Dodgers Stadium after—stop us if you've heard this one before—the bullpen once again failed to stem the tide with the game on the line. Cubs hitters failed in the later frames, too, as the last 18 Chicago batters were set down.

It felt like a particularly hard-to-swallow lost opportunity as Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was distinctly less than dominant, going just five innings. He gave up only four hits but surrendered plenty of hard-hit balls. The score was 2-2 when he got the hook.

Kershaw's nagging home-run woes surfaced again, too, in the fourth inning. After Wilson Contreras reached on a leadoff single, Albert Almora Jr. blasted a two-run shot to left.

Cubs starter Jose Quintana meanwhile cruised early—facing the minimum of batters and registering four strikeouts through four innings. But it went south in the fifth. Quintana walked two, then surrendered an RBI double to Yasiel Puig—who appeared to call his shot then celebrated with an admittedly amusing, very on-Puig-brand combination of a bat flip and crotch chop. Charlie Culberson then knotted it at 2-2 with a sacrifice fly.

In the sixth inning, Maddon went to the bullpen—which again proved to be code for "avert your eyes." Hector Rondon, after being left off the NLDS roster, gave up a home run to Chris Taylor on Rondon's very first pitch of the postseason.

The bleeding resumed in the seventh when Puig returned with a solo shot off Mike Montgomery—which featured a decidedly non-highlight-reel leap attempt from the defensively challenged Kyle Schwarber. (The ever-amazing Puig celebrated with "a curtain call only he could hear.") Culberson then scored on a tight play at the plate when Justin Turner singled off now-reliever John Lackey, making it 5-2. Joe Maddon got himself ejected arguing the call, which hinged on the newish rule that disallows a catcher from blocking the plate before he has the ball. But it appeared to be the correct call, even if the rule has its (vocal, as we saw again on Saturday) critics.

Dodgers relievers on the other hand were sterling, and closer Kenley Jansen capped it off with a drama-free, four-out save.

Game Two is Sunday at 6:30 p.m., at Dodgers Stadium. Jon Lester is slated to pitch for the Cubs, and curveball specialist Rich Hill will take the mound for the Dodgers. If Chicago can escape Los Angeles with a split series, the burn of Game One won't feel so raw for Cubs fans. But it'll likely take a better effort from the beleaguered pen if that's to be the case.