It wasn’t even a week ago we were questioning if the Los Angeles Dodgers had enough pitching to advance through the NLDS. Now that same pitching has carried them to a lead in the National League Championship Series. Behind six scoreless innings from Rich Hill, the Dodgers emerged with a 6-0 victory in Game 3. Now they’ll look to take full control of the series in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Dave Roberts pushed the right buttons with his bullpen too. Joe Blanton put his rough Game 1 behind him with a scoreless seventh inning. Grant Dayton picked up two outs in the eighth before giving way to closer Kenley Jansen, who remained light outs.
Of course, the Dodgers also needed some offense of their own against Jake Arrieta. They only managed two total hits in their last two games against Arrieta, but came through for four runs here, with Corey Seager’s RBI single in the third serving as the icebreaker. The Dodgers would add three more on a Yasmani Grandal two-run homer and a Justin Turner solo shot.
• Rich Hill really stepped up his game after an uneven performance during the NLDS. The veteran left-hander’s six innings were his deepest outing since Sept. 10. He limited the Cubs to two Kris Bryant singles during that time and aside from a 30-pitch second inning never appeared to labor. He was fantastic.
• Corey Seager had done all of his damage this postseason in the first inning, including a pair of home runs and a run-scoring double in the NLDS. He improved to 5-for-8 in first innings with a single on Tuesday, but also expanded his horizons by knocking in the game’s first run with a run-scoring single in the third inning. Seager finished with a three-hit game.
• Yasmani Grandal entered the game 2-for-19 in the postseason with seven strikeouts and several frustrating at-bats in key spots. He flipped that script in the fourth, launching a two-out, two-run homer against Jake Arrieta that extended the Dodgers lead.
• After throwing a no-hitter in his last start at Dodger Stadium last August, expectations were pretty high for Jake Arrieta’s return. It didn’t go as hoped. Though Arrieta wasn’t completely shredded, he wasn’t all that sharp either. He allowed four runs over five-plus innings, with his two biggest mistakes coming to Seager and Grandal.
• Joe Maddon made a couple of interesting lineup decisions for Game 3. One was starting Jorge Soler over Jason Heyward. It did not go well, as Soler remained hitless since Sept. 15. That was one month and three days ago, for those keeping score. Soler also struggled defensively, colliding with Dexter Fowler on a routine fly ball (which was caught), before missing the cutoff man on a late throw to home plate. We’re guessing it’ll be Heyward’s job from here on out.
Given their recent struggles against Jake Arrieta, it places an emphasis on how important it was for Los Angeles to get some confidence against him. Corey Seager’s first-inning single helped open that door, and then his third-inning RBI knocked it down. You could really sense the Dodgers relaxed and settled in at that moment.
When will the Cubs offense break from its funk? Aside from two big innings, the Cubs lineup hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire during the postseason. Now they’re mired in a terrible slump that’s seen them get shut out in consecutive games. It was understandable against Clayton Kershaw in Game 2. It’s a little more troubling after Rich Hill and company shut them down again in Game 3. They desperately need Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist to step up, otherwise putting together scoring opportunities will be difficult.
For a little more perspective on the Dodgers’ pitching excellence and the Cubs’ current struggles.
Cubs have never been shut out in back-to-back postseason games.
Dodgers have never thrown back-to-back postseason shutouts.
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 19, 2016
After winning a pivotal Game 3, the Dodgers will look to take command of the series in Game 4 on Wednesday. They’ll send 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias (5-2, 3.39) to the hill to face off against 37-year-old veteran John Lackey (11-8,3.35). It’s a classic battle of youth versus experience, and it’ll happen at 8:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.
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