Dodgers bullpen no-hits Cubs in Game-1 of NLCS

It was a game like no other at Dodger Stadium. After a week of intense excitement and anticipation of the likes Dodger fans haven’t experienced in nearly three decades, a crowd of 54,289 was still in shock over after having just learned that the biggest series of the season thus far would have to be played without star shortstop and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who had been left off of the Dodgers’ NLCS roster due to a back injury suffered in the final game of the division series against the Arizona Diamond backs almost a week earlier.

Oh sure, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was on the mound for the Dodgers which, in most cases creates an aura of calm and comfort among the blue faithful, but on this day, the loss of Seager had Dodger Stadium in a state of depression regardless of the fact that there was no one on the planet they’d rather see on the mound.

To make matters worst, the soon-to-be four-time National League Cy Young award winner “wasn’t himself,” as could be heard being muttered amongst the huge Dodger Stadium crowd, many of whom – as is normally the case whenever the Chicago Cubs are in town – were wearing a different shade of blue than the normal Pantone 294 Dodger blue color.

After striking out the first batter he faced, dreams of another Kershaw no-hitter quickly vanished when Cubs third baseman Chris Bryant lined a single up the middle. And even though the Dodgers ace walked the next batter he faced, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Kershaw escaped the inning unscathed.

…but not for long.

After retiring the side in order in the second inning and allowing a harmless leadoff single in the third, Kershaw gave up a leadoff single in the fourth to Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras, which was promptly follow by a laser shot home run down the left field line by Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. for a two-run home run, and just like that, an already depressed Dodger Stadium crowd fell even deeper into depression.

…but not for long.

One inning later in their half of the fifth, visibly-tiring Cubs left-hander José Quintana, who had thrown 12 pitches only two days earlier in Game-5 of the NLDS against the Washington Nations, issued back-to-back one-out walks the Dodgers second baseman Logan Forsythe and catcher Austin Barnes which was followed by an RBI double by a bat-flipping Yasiel Puig and a sacrifice fly by Kiké Hernandez, and suddenly it was a tied ballgame.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw may not have been ‘lights out’ to begin Game-1 of the 2017 NLCS, but he most certainly finished that way. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

This is where the real story begins.

The two-run home run that Kershaw had allowed the inning before would not only be the last run that the defending World Series champion Cubs would score on the night, it would also be the last hit they would collect on the night as well.

Between Kershaw (3), left-hander Tony Cingrani (1), right-hander Kenta Maeda (2), right-hander Brandon Morrow (2), left-hander Tony Watson (2), and right-handed Dodgers star closer Kenley Jansen (4), Dodger pitchers retired the final 18 consecutive batters they faced. So while Kershaw may not have thrown a no-hitter, at least not entirely, the absolutely stellar Dodgers bullpen did.

“To be able to go to the bullpen and having the confidence in them was a huge driver,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, of his decision to pinch-hit for Kershaw after only five innings. “But you still have a chance to tack on another run. I thought it was the right move.”

Right indeed, and tack on they did.

In their half of the sixth inning, Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor swung at the first pitch that Cubs right-handed reliever Hector Rondon threw, sending it sailing over the wall in right-center field for a solo home run to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. And in the bottom of the seventh, a much-improved and vastly more mature Yasiel Puig added to his earlier double with a two run home run to left-center field that just cleared the wall for a squeaker two-run home run to add the final touches on the Dodgers eventual 5-2 win.

As he often does, the oft-criticized Dodgers right fielder show tremendous emotion after both his double and his two run blast.

“It’s impacting everyone and I think it’s great when he can play with such emotion and focus as well,” Roberts said, of Puig’s emotional displays. “He loves the big stage and his only focus is helping us continue to win baseball games. Right now he’s playing at a high level and not only the fans, his teammates are feeding off of it.”

No, this Puig bat flip wasn’t on his home run … it was on his double.
(Video capture courtesy of TBS)

And then there’s Kenley Jansen.

There is zero doubt that there isn’t an opposing hitter in the game today who doesn’t have the fact that the Dodgers have the best closer in the game in their bullpen in the back of their mind. They are also very well aware that Roberts will call on the big man for a six-out save if necessary. In this case, it was for a four-out save and Jansen struck out all four batters he faced.

“To me, at this time of year, it’s a relieved feeling to win that first game,” Jansen told reporters, after the game. “It puts extra pressure on them now. We understand they come in here trying to steal one game. Now that puts extra pressure on them to do it tomorrow.”

There probably isn’t a more helpless feeling for an opposing hitter than having to face Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who struck out all four Cubs batters he faced in Game-1 of the NLCS on Saturday night.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Tomorrow is now today and the Dodgers will send left-hander Rich Hill to the Dodger Stadium mound opposite Cubs left-hander Jon Lester, against whom the Dodgers are 1-0 this season and 3-2 over his 12-year MLB career.

Play Ball!


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4 Responses to “Dodgers bullpen no-hits Cubs in Game-1 of NLCS”

  1. oldbrooklynfan says:

    TBW, his fellow worker Carl and myself really enjoyed watching the Dodger beat the Cubs at Carmine’s Sports Bar on Graham Ave, in B’Klyn. A nice crowd of other Dodger fans were also on hand.

  2. CruzinBlue says:

    Through two games in the NLCS:

    Cubs bullpen: 8 hits, 6 earned runs, 7 innings
    Dodgers bullpen: 0 hits, 0 runs, 8 no-hit innings

    This year, the Dodgers have something to show the Cubs.

    • Respect the Rivalry says:

      One more inning and the BP has a no-hitter.
      OK, more reasonable: NLCS MVP: Dodgers bullpen.

  3. Respect the Rivalry says:

    On replays of Wild Horse’s HR I’m pretty sure I saw the outfield wall duck just a bit.

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