National League Championship Series Game 1 – Cubs 8, Dodgers 4
WP – Aroldis Chapman (1-0, BS 1) LP – Joe Blanton (0-1) Save – None
After the Dodgers tied Game 1 of the NLCS at three in the top of the eighth, the Cubs loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth with two outs. Miguel Montero was called on to hit for Aroldis Chapman. And Montero launched a 0-2 pitch from Joe Blanton into the right field bleachers. Montero’s first career postseason home run, a Grand Slam, broke the 3-3 tie and gave the Cubs a 7-3 lead.
Dexter Fowler followed with a solo shot and the back-to-back jacks in the eighth inning were the difference as the Cubs did not quit and took Game 1 of the NLCS from the Dodgers in dramatic fashion.
Game 1 had it all for the Cubs. Javier Baez stole home for the Cubs’ third run of the game. The Cubs played incredible defense throughout the game. And Miguel Montero became the first player in history to hit a pinch-hit go-ahead Grand Slam in a postseason game.
The Cubs scored three runs in the first two innings off Kenta Maeda. Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with two doubles, a walk and a RBI) doubled in Dexter Fowler (2-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored) in the first inning. Jason Heyward (1-for-3 with a triple, a walk and two runs scored) started the second with a triple and scored on a bloop, hustle double to left center from Javier Baez (2-for-4 with two doubles, a stolen base, a run scored and a RBI). After a wild pitch allowed Baez to take third, he stole home with Jon Lester at the plate. Baez went too far down the third base line when Lester pulled the bat back on a bunt attempt. When Carlos Ruiz threw to third, Baez took off for home and scored.
Ben Zobrist (1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored) started the eighth inning rally with a double. The Cubs took advantage of intentional walks to Jason Heyward and pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan that loaded the bases with two outs. Joe Maddon sent Miguel Montero (1-for-1 with a home run and four RBI) up to hit for Aroldis Chapman and he delivered the game winner.
Before the eighth inning, the Cubs defense was one of the big stories of the game. The Cubs made one excellent play after another behind Jon Lester.
Dexter Fowler made two diving catches, one in right center and one in left center. Fowler took a hit away from Justin Turner in the third with a diving catch in right center. Fowler made the last out of the fourth with a spectacular diving catch in left center that robbed Carlos Ruiz of at least a double.
And Ben Zobrist threw out Adrian Gonzalez at the plate to end the second inning.
Jon Lester grinded through six innings of four-hit, one-run ball. Lester wasn’t sharp but he was effective. Lester gave up a lot of hard contact. The Cubs defense made the plays behind him and did not allow any of the hard hit balls to turn into hits.
The only run off Lester came in the fifth inning. Andre Ethier pinch-hit for Kenta Maeda and lifted a 1-2 pitch into the jet stream. With the wind blowing straight out to left, the ball ended up in the left center field basket.
Lester had no rhythm and allowed the Dodgers to dictate the flow of the game. Lester really struggled with his command in the first two innings and wasn’t fooling any one. Lester retired 12 of last 13 batters he faced with help from his defense.
Jon Lester completed six innings and allowed one run on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Lester made 77 pitches, 47 for strikes, on a night he did not have it.
Travis Wood, Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery combined on a scoreless seventh.
The Dodgers scored two runs in the eighth off Montgomery, Pedro Strop and Aroldis Chapman. And Hector Rondon struggled again in the ninth. Rondon recorded the 27th out despite giving up a run scoring double.
Here’s how Game 1 of the NLCS played out …
Jon Lester worked around a two-out single by Corey Seager in the first and hung a zero on the board. And the Cubs went to work against Kenta Maeda in the home half.
Dexter Fowler led off with a single to center. Kris Bryant pulled a 1-2 pitch to deep left. Howie Kendrick misplayed the big fly, the ball hit off the ivy and Fowler scored from first, 1-0 Cubs. The Cubs could not cash in Bryant’s double. Anthony Rizzo lined out to left. Ben Zobrist lined out to left center. Rizzo and Bryant both squared up the ball but Kendrick was able to catch the routine outs. Addison Russell tapped back to the mound to end the inning.
The Cubs led 1-0 after one inning.
Lester struggled with his command in the second. Lester and Ross could not get on the same page and allowed the Dodgers to dictate the pace of the game. Adrian Gonzalez started the second with a single to right. Ruiz lined out to third on a 3-2 pitch. Lester could not finish off Hernandez after jumping ahead 1-2. Lester walked Kike Hernandez and put two on with one out for Pederson. Lester struck out Pederson swinging on a 2-2 pitch.
Kenta Maeda singled to left. Zobrist was playing shallow and charged the grounder off the bat of the Dodgers’ pitcher. Gonzalez was waived in. Zobrist made a one-hop throw to Ross. Gonzalez was out by several feet to end the inning. The Cubs got out of Lester’s jam and kept the Dodgers off the board. Lester needed 30 pitches, 17 for strikes, to get through two innings.
The Cubs added on in the bottom of the second with just an exciting inning for the offense.
Jason Heyward led off the second with a triple to the right field corner. With the infield in, Javier Baez made contact on a 1-2 pitch and blooped it into left center. The ball landed in no-man’s land. Heyward scored, 2-0 Cubs. And Baez hustled to second and slid in headfirst with a double.
After Ross flied out to center, a 1-1 pitch to Lester got away from Ruiz. Baez went to third on a wild pitch. Lester squared to bunt on a 2-1 pitch but pulled the bat back with the pitch inside and off the plate. Baez went too far down the line and Ruiz fired to third. As soon as the ball left Ruiz’s hand, Baez took off for home. And he beat Turner’s return throw. Baez stole home and the Cubs took a 3-0 lead.
Lester walked with one out. Fowler popped out to third and Bryant popped out to second to end the inning.
The Cubs led 3-0 after two innings.
The game remained 3-0 Cubs until the fifth inning.
The Dodgers continued making solid contact against Lester in the fifth. Hernandez lined out to Russell at short for the first out. Pederson tried to bunt his way on with the wind howling out. Bryant fielded the bunt on the third base side of the mound and made a routine throw to Rizzo for the second out.
Andre Ethier batted for Maeda and put the Dodgers on the board. Ethier has worn out Cubs pitching throughout his career and he lifted a 1-2 pitch out to left. The wind grabbed what should have been a routine fly to Fowler and carried the ball into the basket … 3-1 Cubs after Ethier’s first homer off a lefty since Aug. 13, 2013. Kendrick grounded out to Russell to end the fifth.
Pedro Baez replaced Maeda for the fifth. The Cubs were unable to take advantage of a leadoff walk by Kris Bryant. And the game went to the sixth with the Cubs leading 3-1.
Lester pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning. Baez reached with his second double of the night with one out in the sixth. After Ross struck out swinging, Maddon went to his bench for Jorge Soler to hit for Lester. Soler rolled out to short to end the inning.
The game went to the seventh with the Cubs clinging to a two-run lead.
Maddon used three pitchers to record three outs in the seventh.
Travis Wood started the seventh and retired Gonzalez on a grounder to second. Maddon went to his pen for Carl Edwards Jr. Yasmani Grandal hit for Ruiz and struck out swinging (1-2 pitch). Edwards Jr. could not get out of the inning without issuing a walk to Kike Hernandez. Maddon made the slow walk with the lefty Pederson due up. Mike Montgomery struck out Pederson swinging (0-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Fowler, Bryant and Rizzo did nothing against Ross Stripling in the seventh. And the game went to the eighth with the Cubs leading 3-1.
Montgomery stayed in to start the eighth. Andrew Toles singled to left. Maddon went to his pen for Pedro Strop with Kendrick due up. Dave Roberts countered with Chase Utley. Strop walked Utley after not getting a couple of close calls that could have gone either way. Justin Turner bounced a 2-2 pitch down the third base line. Bryant fielded the ball but could not beat Toles to the bag. And the Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs.
Maddon made the slow walk, again, and called on Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman struck out Seager (1-2 pitch) and Puig (0-2 pitch) swinging. Gonzalez stepped to the plate with two outs, the bases loaded and the Cubs leading by two runs.
Adrian Gonzalez ripped a 1-1 pitch to center. Toles and Utley scored and tied the game at three. Turner went to third with two outs. Gonzalez took second after a 1-1 pitch to Grandal. With runners on second and third, Chapman induced a grounder to short from Grandal to end the inning.
The game went to the bottom of the eighth at a deflated Wrigley Field tied at three.
Ben Zobrist led off the eighth with a double to right center off Joe Blanton. Russell grounded out to third for the first out. Roberts had Blanton intentionally walk Jason Heyward. And the gamble paid off, Baez popped Blanton’s first pitch to Hernandez in shallow right for the second out.
Maddon sent Chris Coghlan up to hit for Ross. Blanton intentionally walked Coghlan to load the bases. The move forced Maddon to take Chapman out of the game. Miguel Montero pinch-hit for Chapman with two down and the bases loaded.
Miguel Montero was sitting slider on a 0-2 pitch and he got all of it. Montero launched his first postseason home run, a Grand Slam to right and the Cubs took a 7-3 lead as Wrigley erupted into mayhem.
Before the crowd settled down, Dexter Fowler hit a homer to right. And the back-to-back jacks gave the Cubs an 8-3 lead.
Hector Rondon took the mound in the ninth with a five-run lead. Rondon retired Hernandez on a grounder to third. Joc Pederson reached on an infield single and scored on a double to right center off the bat of Andrew Toles … 8-4 Cubs. Chase Utley smoked a 2-2 pitch toward first. Rizzo caught the smash and threw to second to double off an overly aggressive Toles to end the game.
With Saturday’s win, the Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS.
Kyle Hendricks faces Clayton Kershaw in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday night (7:08pm CDT) at Wrigley Field.