Probably the most important moment Wednesday happened before the Cubs played the Dodgers. The 2016 team was given their championship rings and, much like Monday’s banner raising, it was an emotional scene. What once seemed the stuff of dreams and kids’ movies (the rings were much nicer than Henry Rowengartner’s) was finally real.
It really has felt like the last two games have been secondary to the pomp and circumstance of the pregame events. Now that the banner has been raised and the rings awarded, attention can move fully to 2017.
While it seemed something of an afterthought, there was still a game to play. John Lackey (now in possession of that jewelry he came here for) ran into immediate trouble in the 1st, when leadoff hitter Andrew Toles went deep to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
Lackey got into a yelling match with home plate umpire Greg Gibson while Toles circled the bases. The pitcher felt his first offering was a strike and let Gibson know. The big Texan loaded the bases later in the inning, but escaped further damage.
Chicago had a tough time getting the offense in gear at a cold Wrigley Field as sinker specialist Brandon McCarthy generated three double-plays the first four innings.
After early struggles, Lackey was dominant, striking out 10 batters in six innings and keeping the score at 1-0. Unfortunately, the Cubs offense was unable to provide their starter with any run support.
Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo crushed fly balls that might have been home runs on another night, but the brisk wind blowing in from the lake knocked both down.
After a clean 7th, reliever Mike Montgomery ran into big trouble in the 8th. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for pinch hitter Justin Turner. With Hector Rondon warming, manager Joe Maddon opted to stay with Monty. The move paid off as Turner grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
A one-out error in the bottom of the 8th put Albert Almora on 2nd, but Jon Jay and Kyle Schwarber struck out to end the threat.
A microcosm of the entire game took place in the 9th inning, when, with a runner on second and two outs, Rondon struck Toles out swinging. The ball got away from Contreras, who threw wildly to first. Chase Utley broke for home and scored when Rondon dropped Rizzo’s throw at the plate. Rondon appeared to be injured and left the game.
Kenley Jansen pitched around a one-out Rizzo single to close out the 2-0 Los Angles victory.
Stats That Matter
- Lackey was very good after another rough 1st inning. 6 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 10 K, and 3 BB will usually get you a win and Lackey will get a lot of good results if he pitches like that all season.
- Kris Bryant was 0-for-2, but he walked twice and his on-base percentage is nearly .400.
- Rizzo went 2-for-4 and came close to a homer in the 6th. As with Bryant, it appears Rizzo is coming out of his early struggles.
This was just one of those days for the Cubs as McCarthy and the Dodgers’ pen kept the Chicago offense at bay. Hey those title rings are still pretty awesome.
The Cubs and Dodgers play the deciding game of the three-game series Thursday afternoon. There are no ceremonies planned prior to Brett Anderson taking the bump to oppose Hyun-Jin Ryu in an all-lefty matchup. The game is at 1:20 CT on CSN Chicago (MLB Network nationally), 670 the Score.