The Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night to advance to their first World Series since 1945.
The game featured the same pitching matchup as Game 2: Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers versus Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. Saturday, however, had one difference from Game 2: Hendricks outpitched Kershaw.
Hendricks’ night began with a first-pitch single by Andrew Toles; he would not surrender another hit for 7 1/3 innings. The next hit off Hendricks came against the final batter he faced. On his 88 pitches in his win, the Chicago starter struck out 6 and walked none.
“I don’t think anybody can describe what he did,” Cubs right fielder Dexter Fowler told ESPN. “He came with it. He came with it, to say the least.”
The only similarity between Hendricks’ and Kershaw’s outings was that they both gave up hits to the first batters they faced. The bottom of the first inning saw Fowler’s ground-rule double ignite Chicago’s offensive fire. The Cubs were 47-13 during the regular season when Fowler led off the game reaching base.
Kris Bryant followed Fowler’s double with a single to right field, putting the Cubs up 1-0. That was all the scoring the Cubs needed for the night.
However, in the next at bat, Dodgers left fielder Andrew Toles committed a fielding error, dropping an Anthony Rizzo fly ball to move runners to second and third. Zobrist then hit a sacrifice fly to increase the lead to 2-0.
The Cubs tacked on another run in the second. Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo hit solo home runs in the fourth and fifth innings respectively to increase the lead to 5-0.
“This is a new team,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said per ESPN “This is a completely different time of our lives. We’re enjoying it and our work’s just getting started.”
Kershaw lasted five innings, yielding five runs, four of which were earned. He gave up seven hits and struck out four batters in his losing effort.
The Los Angeles ace’s struggles were evident early, as he needed 30 pitches to get through the first inning for the first time since Aug. 7th, 2011. Including tonight’s outing Kershaw owns a 6.07 ERA in elimination games since 2013.
Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen relieved Kershaw in the sixth inning. He struck out four in his three perfect innings.
Chicago also went straight from starting pitcher to closer, bringing in Aroldis Chapman with one out in the eighth. Chapman finished the game and continued Hendricks’ streak of facing the minimum number of batters.
The Cubs pitching staff faced the fewest possible batters for the second time in postseason history. The last time this occurred was in Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.
With the Cub’s pitching and defense on stage in this series, the second baseman Javier Baez and starting pitcher Jon Lester won co-MVP of the NLCS.
“This city deserves it so much,” Rizzo said, according to ESPN. “We’re going to the World Series. I can’t even believe that.”
Chicago will travel to Cleveland to face the Indians in Game one of the World Series Tuesday night. The Indians have not won the title since 1948. The Cubs have not won the Series since 1908.