Game Seventy-One – Cubs 0, Dodgers 4
WP – Carlos Frias (5-5) LP – Jon Lester (4-6) Save – None
If it could go wrong for the Cubs Thursday it did in front of the biggest crowd of the year at Wrigley Field. And the four-game series ended with a disappointing loss to the Dodgers.
Jon Lester didn’t have it. Starlin Castro was scratched from the starting lineup for the birth of his child. Castro actually reported to the park after the game started and was used in one of the many double-switches Joe Maddon made Thursday. David Ross had to step in between homeplate umpire Andy Fletcher and Jon Lester to keep a one-sided argument from escalating into a full-blown ump show. Kris Bryant left the game in the third inning with flu like symptoms. And the Cubs had hits in four of the first five innings but could not push across any runs.
The Cubs were not only flat Thursday in a game one would think the team would be better prepared to play, Jon Lester could not find the umpire’s strike zone in the first two innings and it ended up costing the Cubs a game.
Lester had a bad outing. Lester lasted only four innings and gave up four runs on four hits with four walks and five strikeouts on 75 pitches, 43 for strikes. Lester was unable to find a rhythm early and was clearly frustrated throughout the entirety of his short outing.
Edwin Jackson, James Russell, Yoervis Medina and Hector Rondon held the Dodgers’ backups in check but the offense could not plate any runs.
The Cubs out-hit the Dodgers 8-6 and three of the eight hits were doubles. Anthony Rizzo (3-for-4 with two doubles) and Chris Denorfia (2-for-4 with a double) got on base at the top of the lineup But the middle of the order was not able to deliver. The Cubs hit into two double plays and Chris Coghlan (0-for-2 with two walks) was thrown out at the plate to end the fourth inning.
Joe Maddon used three different centerfielders (Chris Denorfia, Matt Szczur and Dexter Fowler). Chris Coghlan started the game in left, moved to second base in the third when Bryant left, and finished the game in left field. Addison Russell and Starlin Castro played shortstop and Maddon used both of his catchers.
To put it simply using an old, but accurate cliché, this one was of the 42 for the Cubs.
With Thursday’s loss, the Cubs split the four game series (2-2) with the Dodgers and slipped to 39-32 on the season.
The Dodgers took an early lead with only one ball leaving the infield. Jimmy Rollins bunted his way with on with one out. Jon Lester issued back-to-back walks to Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke to load the bases. A frustrated Jon Lester missed with his first offering to Howie Kendrick. David Ross and Chris Bosio went to the mound.
Howie Kendrick shot Lester’s first pitch after the mound conference down the first baseline. Rollins and Turner scored, 2-0 Dodgers. With runners on second and third with one out, Lester struck out Guerrero and Callaspo to end the inning.
Anthony Rizzo doubled to left with one out. Carlos Frias struck out Kris Bryant swinging. Chris Coghlan worked a walk but with both runners on the move, Addison Russell flied out to left center to end the inning.
After one complete, the Dodgers led 2-0.
The game got out of hand in the second inning.
A.J. Ellis walked to start the second. Lester was rather unhappy with the calls of homeplate umpire Andy Fletcher. Lester appeared to give Fletcher an ear full as he walked back up to the mound following the third walk to the eighth batter he faced. Fletcher lost control, took off his mask and started toward the mound. David Ross had to get in between Fletcher and Lester while doing his best not to bump the ump and get tossed. Joe Maddon went out and defended his players. Maddon had a rather animated conversation with Fletcher and when it ended remarkably no one from the Cubs’ side was ejected from the game.
Carlos Frias stepped in and popped a bunt up toward first. Rizzo let the ball fall, but it skipped away from him. Rizzo forced Ellis at second base but the Cubs could not turn two. Frias took over at first base.
Kike Hernandez launched a 1-2 pitch from Lester over Denorfia’s head in center. Denorfia broke in and by the time he corrected himself, the ball was well over his head. Frias scored, 3-0 Dodgers. Jimmy Rollins singled to center, Hernandez scored and it was 4-0 Dodgers.
Chris Denorfia made a diving catch in left center to take away a hit from Justin Turner. Lester walked Van Slyke and the Dodgers had two on with two down … and Edwin Jackson warming in the bullpen. With Kendrick at the plate, Rollins tried to steal third base and was thrown out to end the inning.
The Cubs defense hurt and helped Lester in the second inning. Lester clearly did not have it Thursday. It took him 49 pitches, 26 for strikes, to complete two innings.
Carlos Frias faced the minimum in the second. And after two, the Dodgers had a 4-0 lead.
Lester settled down in the third. And Lester retired the side in order in the third and fourth innings.
Chris Coghlan led off the fourth with a walk. Russell struck out swinging and Baxter lined out to second. David Ross singled to left center and put two on with two down for Jon Lester. Maddon rolled the dice and took out Lester for Miguel Montero.
Miguel Montero singled to left. Chris Coghlan was waived around third. And it was the wrong call by Gary Jones. Alex Guerrero threw a strike to A.J. Ellis and Coghlan was out by several feet to end the inning.
After four innings, the Dodgers had a 4-0 lead.
And that would end up being the final score. The Cubs wasted a second and third, one out chance in the fifth. Anthony Rizzo doubled with one out after Denorfia singled. But Matt Szczur, hitting in Kris Bryant’s spot, struck out swinging and Coghlan went down swinging to end the inning.
Joe Maddon kept trying to find the right combination but it was just one of those days.
The Cubs open a three-game series in St. Louis on Friday night (7:15pm CDT). Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face John Lackey.