When the Lights Go Out: Kershaw Shuts out Cubs 1-0 in Game 2


Photo courtesy of AP

Joe Thomas

The Cubs had an immense amount of momentum riding into game two after what transpired on Saturday night with Montero’s game-winning grand slam. In game two, though, they were tasked with the opportunity to get to Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw early in the game so they wouldn’t have to deal with him throughout the contest’s entirety. The Dodgers had a different mindset going into Sunday night’s game. Contrarily, they wanted to head home to the city of angels with at 1-1 series tie. Clayton Kershaw, who was again pitching on a short day’s rest, couldn’t have helped the Dodgers any more than he did in game two.

The scoring began in the second inning after Clayton Kershaw and Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks each had 1-2-3 innings in the first. On a 1-0 count with no outs in the top of the second, Adrian Gonzalez cranked a solo home run out to left center field to give the Dodgers their first hit of the contest and an early lead over the Cubs.

After the one run from the Dodgers, it was more of the same for Kershaw, mowing down Cubs’ hitters in order. The Cubs didn’t get their first baserunner until the fifth inning when Baez singled into left. That broke up Kershaw’s perfect game through 5 ⅔.

Kershaw was breathtaking in game two. He pitched six perfect innings in a total of 7 IP. Kershaw had six strikeouts along with allowing only two hits. He got through all seven innings pitching 84 pitches, which is great for an additional bonus for manager Dave Roberts pitching a guy on short rest.

In the 8th inning Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts turned to Kenley Jansen to get the final six outs. Jansen, who usually has served as the 9th inning closer throughout this year has been asked to pitch more than just an inning on few occasions. On Thursday night’s game against the Nationals, Jansen went 2 ⅓. These extra innings that Jansen has pitched haven’t seemed to be bothering him. Yesterday, he coasted through the 8th and 9th innings, securing a Dodgers game two win over the Cubs by the final score of 1-0.

My game two takeaway was a reality check on how good Kershaw is. A shutout is one thing, but a shutout on the Cubs is a whole different story. The Cubs’ offense has been strong all year, especially Saturday night. With spirits riding high after game one it was expected that the Cubs could at the very least get some run support on the board for one of their aces Kyle Hendricks. Kershaw was nearly unhittable and when he gets any sort of lead, he gets even tougher. He took the noise out of Wrigley–something that isn’t easy to accomplish and the Cubs can not afford to lose to any more to the Dodgers while they are in LA or they may have to face Kershaw twice more (in Game 5 and Game 7). In all likelihood, though, the Cubs will see Kershaw later on in the series regardless, meaning that they need to get their wins while they can. Kershaw can be stopped, but he is one of the hardest pitchers in baseball to defeat. The Cubs will need a strong rebound after a game two loss.

Today, the Cubs are heading out to Los Angeles. The Dodgers and the Cubs will resume their series on Tuesday as Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta gets ready to take on ex-Cub Rich Hill. Hill is coming off a good year with the Dodgers having the low ERA of 2.12, while his opponent, Arrieta, has a 3.10 ERA. The Cubs will play game three, four and five out in Los Angeles and, if necessary, the Cubs and Dodgers will head back to Wrigley on Friday for games on Saturday and possibly Sunday. As always, after game three of the NLCS go to The Forest Scout the following morning for a complete post game wrap-up. With five games left, the magic number is four for each club to make it to the World Series.