Video Credit: MLB

FSM Essential Recap: Dodgers vs Cubs – Series 10

Los Angeles Dodgers (17-15)  |  Chicago Cubs (14-15)


“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”

– Tommy Lasorda


Game 3:


Dodgers vs Cubs
Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

The Dodgers follow an all-too-familiar script, get swept by Cubs to end disastrous road trip losing 6 of 7.

The Dodgers ended their hellish stretch of 14 games in 14 days with a new low. A 6-5 loss to the Cubs in 11 innings on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field completed the sweep and featured most of the same storylines from the last few weeks.

The last time the Dodgers were swept in a series was April 8-11, 2019, a four-game set in St. Louis.

The last two weeks weren’t just gruesome because of the Dodgers’ 3-11 record in the beautiful disaster that was 14 games. That was terrible, but since the stretch of games began the club lost five players to the injured list — not counting the three brief COVID-19-related stints — including Dustin May needing Tommy John surgery. The losses, on and off the field, are taking a toll.

“We’re absolutely frustrated,” said Max Muncy, who homered and doubled on Wednesday. “We’re way better than this. Period.”

After the first two losses of the series sweep, on Tuesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “I think we put ourselves in position to play extra innings in games we probably shouldn’t have.”

Wednesday night was a slightly different song, but with many of the same notes.

Corey Seager’s play at shortstop has been a point of contention most of the season. He rates out below average in most publicly available defensive metrics. Roberts has insisted that it’s a small sample size and that Seager will make the plays, but to this point in the season, for whatever reason, he hasn’t.


Dodgers vs Cubs
Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

The usual problem for Seager is fielding the ball, with balls going under, around, and just out of the reach of his glove with alarming frequency. So it was a welcome sight in the eighth inning on Wednesday to see Seager deftly backhand a Kris Bryant grounder in the hole, but before the streamers and fireworks could be deployed, Seager promptly threw errantly into right field, putting old friend Joc Pederson on third base instead of retired to the Cubs’ third base dugout.

One batter later, Pederson scored the tying run on a ground out.

The Dodgers weren’t alone in receiving gifts on the defensive end when a near-inning-ending double play to Anthony Rizzo in the top of the 11th inning instead turned into only one out when he failed to step on first by mere inches.

But Rizzo redeemed Chicago in the bottom of the inning, delivering an RBI single to score Matt Duffy with the winning run, giving the Cubs a second straight walk-off.

Rizzo’s walk-off single came against Garrett Cleavinger, who entered the 11th with a lead, the latest Dodger with a chance to become the fifth pitcher on the team to record a save this season. But like Jimmy Nelson, Mitch White (twice), and Alex Vesia before him, Cleavinger couldn’t convert.

The 11th inning started so promising for Cleavinger, who struck out his first two batters faced. But then a single by Duffy tied it, and then Duffy stole second to set up the winning hit, sending the rookie to his third extra-inning loss this season.

Kenley Jansen also blew a save in the 10th inning, and nearly took the loss. Pederson was front and center again in another play that would have normally fit right into the usual script in so many of these Dodgers losses. Down a run with runners on second and third and nobody out in the 10th, Pederson crushed a ball that seemed destined for the right-field seats, so much so that he threw his bat and begin celebrating what looked like a sure walk-off home run against his former team.


Dodgers vs Cubs
Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Only it died on the warning track, so he had to settle for a sacrifice fly.

Jansen then helped get the game to the 11th, after a pair of intentional walks to load the bases, he induced a ground ball from Willson Contreras that the Dodgers managed to turn into a double play to keep the game tied.

L.A.’s bullpen finished the 14-game stretch with a 3.96 ERA, which might seem respectable on its surface but also includes 11 unearned runs, eight of which came thanks to the extra-inning free-runner rule.

The Dodgers fell to 1-6 in extra-inning games, including losses in each of their last five, all in the last 11 days.

“The bottom line is that the little things across the board, we’re just not finishing, executing the way we’re capable of,” Roberts said. “It sounds like I’m on repeat, but we need to do a better job.”


Game 3 Boxscore:


WP: Alec Mills (2-0 / 5.14 ERA)

LP: Garrett Cleavinger (0-3 / 4.50 ERA)

HR: Max Muncy (5); Jake Marisnick (4)



The Dodgers finally have a real day off on Thursday, and some get to sleep in their own beds since the next series is in Anaheim. Julio Urías starts the opener of the Freeway Series on Friday night. The Angels haven’t yet announced their weekend rotation. The game can be seen on SportsNet LA.



Game 2:


Dodgers vs Cubs
Photo Credit: True Blue L.A.

The second game of the doubleheader on Tuesday at Wrigley Field ended with the same result as the first, though the nightcap proved much crueler for the road team. The Dodgers had enough relievers to get through the allotted seven innings. The deeper they moved down the bullpen depth chart in extras, the more the game got away in a 4-3 Cubs win in nine innings.

Chicago was 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position in this one and was one out away from losing until Javier Báez tattooed a fastball from Mitch White for a two-run home run in the eighth inning, the Cubs’ first hit with runners in scoring position.

The second Cubs hit with runners in scoring position came in the ninth, a single by David Bote over the head of Mookie Betts in right field, scoring Kris Bryant for the walk-off win. That came off Garrett Cleavinger, the eighth reliever used by the Dodgers in two games on Tuesday, suffering his second extra-inning loss of the season.

“We’ve got them jumping in with both feet. They’ve been in some big spots for us. They’re young, major league pitchers,” said Dave Roberts. “How things are going with the pen and some injuries and unfortunate things, they’re being thrust into some big situations. My encouragement is to stay out there and keep competing, keep trying to make pitches and create better memories.”

As a reminder, the Dodgers have four pitchers from their opening day bullpen currently on the injured list.

The only one of the nine active relief pitchers on the roster who didn’t pitch Tuesday was Scott Alexander, who, despite pitching the last two games, still co-leads the team with 13 appearances. Roberts said Alexander was dealing with some soreness and that the team might add another pitcher for coverage before Wednesday’s series finale, even with an off day coming Thursday.

That the Dodgers were even in a position to potentially win was a testament to their pitchers escaping jams through the first seven innings. But they couldn’t keep the streak going in the eighth and ninth.


Dodgers vs Cubs
Photo Credit: USA Today

The nightcap almost ended in regulation, with the Dodgers failing to score until a solo home run in the seventh inning. This time it was Max Muncy charging the first earned run of the season to Craig Kimbrel’s ledger by hitting a ball 391 feet into the right-field seats.

It was the first home run and first extra-base hit since April 13 for Muncy, who had three hits in 46 at-bats, with 21 strikeouts and 16 walks in between.

After Edwin Ríos — the free runner to start the eighth, considered an extra-inning in this doubleheader nightcap — scored the go-ahead run, Justin Turner pinch-hit after getting a brief respite, providing insurance.

But in the end, the Dodgers stranded their non-homer opportunities, going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position themselves. L.A. has scored three runs or less in 11 of their last 17 games.

Trevor Bauer labored more than any other start since joining the Dodgers, chased in the fifth inning after 90 pitches and a season-high four walks. Jason Heyward tagged him for a solo home run on the first pitch of the fourth inning, but that Bauer didn’t allow another run was no small feat.

The Cubs were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position against Bauer, with six of his seven strikeouts coming in those situations, including getting Kris Bryant looking with the bases loaded to end the fourth inning.

Four walks were the most for Bauer since his final start with Cleveland on July 28, 2019. After joining the National League, Bauer averaged 1.6 free passes in his first 27 starts, including no more than two in any of his first six starts this season.

Joc Pederson made Bauer work, fouling off seven pitches and seeing 19 pitches in three plate appearances against him, including a nine-pitch walk in the first inning. Pederson was 0-2 with a hit by pitch, that walk, and an eight-pitch strikeout for the game.

The Cubs had runners in scoring position in each of the first six innings, and b might have had the greatest escape of the night. The Dodgers right-hander, who entered Tuesday with an average exit velocity (83.4 mph) in the top three percent of MLB, allowed even more soft contact in the sixth. Still, with two singles against the shift (85.5 mph and 79.9 mph) and a 75.5 mph grounder muffed by Ríos, somehow the bases were loaded with nobody out.

But that’s when Treinen went to work, getting Pederson to pop out, then striking out Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

That set up the heroics of Muncy and Turner, but they were unable to complete the split. Since their 13-2 start, the Dodgers have lost 12 of their last 16 games, the worst record in the National League during that span. In the American League, only the Tigers (2-13) have been worse.

“Obviously, we haven’t won a lot of baseball games in the last couple of weeks. If you look at how we’re playing baseball, it’s just not all-around, all facets of the game, executing,” Roberts said. “You keep other teams in it, they get the big hit, they make the big play. You end up being on the short end.”

“It’s not the first time we’ve gone through this,” said Turner, referring to the Dodgers’ 1-16 stretch late in 2017, when they won 104 games on the way to the World Series. “We’ve got to be proactive about it, do the little things, and find a way to win ballgames.”


Game 2 Boxscore:


WP: Justin Steele (1-0 / 3.68 ERA)

LP: Garrett Cleavinger (0-2 / 2.70 ERA)

HR: Max Muncy (4), Justin Turner (7); Jason Heyward (3), Javier Báez (8)


Wednesday Walker Buehler gets the start as the Dodgers as they go for their specialty of late, trying for a win in the series finale to avoid a sweep, something they’ve done in three of their previous four series. Adbert Alzolay starts for the Cubs. The game can be seen on ESPN and SportsNet LA with first pitch at 4:40 pm.



Game 1:


Dodgers vs Cubs
Photo Credit: L.A. Times

Any handle we thought we had on the Dodgers pitching plans for this series went out the window in the first inning of Tuesday afternoon’s 7-1 loss to the Cubs in the first game of a doubleheader.

One inning was as long as Clayton Kershaw lasted, the shortest start of his career, after giving up four runs in the opening frame. Things went south immediately after getting head of Javier Báez 0-2 and then walking him, just the second base on balls of the season for the player with the lowest walk rate in the game.

It was rare not only that Báez walked but that Kershaw was the one who issued it. The Dodgers lefty entered Tuesday with five walks in 184 batters faced but walked two in his first inning, which required 39 pitches.

The inning wasn’t helped by Corey Seager having another grounder elude his glove on the way to left field, which was followed by a three-run double off the ivy by David Bote to drive in three. Seager didn’t get charged with an error on the play, but the Dodgers had two errors as a team — one each by Gavin Lux and Austin Barnes.

“It definitely does bother me because that’s something we should be able to bank with our guys, the consistent defense that we should play,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Very uncharacteristic what we’ve seen this year. It just has to get better.”

But while it might be easy to point fingers at the shoddy Dodgers defense here, Kershaw was also uncharacteristically wild.

In addition to the two walks, Kershaw threw one wild pitch and didn’t get charged with a second only because his errant pitch ricocheted back to catcher Barnes quickly enough for none of the runners to advance. Kershaw spiked several sliders and threw eight of his pitches in the dirt.

“Everything was bad, so I’m not going to try and analyze it too much,” Kershaw said. “Just hope this was an outlier, and get ready for the next one.”

Before immediately assuming Kershaw’s early removal was a precursor to him potentially starting Saturday on three days rest, Roberts, before the game, didn’t sound too keen on the idea of using the previous assumed short-rest starter, Trevor Bauer on Saturday.

“Depending on how we come out of this series, coming off the off-day [Thursday], it’s probably the bullpen game scenario,” Roberts said earlier Tuesday.

Kershaw wouldn’t reveal the details of his dugout conversation with Roberts but said he hasn’t talked with anyone about pitching on three days’ rest. Roberts, after the game, said any such talk would come in a few days.

“I’ll be ready to go whenever they ask me to,Kershaw said.

Plans can change, though, and it probably will take a few days until the Dodgers decide what to do. In the first game of the doubleheader, the Dodgers used three of their nine relievers — Dennis Santana, Jimmy Nelson, and Alex Vesia — to cover the final five innings.


Dodgers vs Cubs
Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune

Kyle Hendricks had an inverse Kershaw scenario on Tuesday. The Cubs opening day starter entered the game with a 7.54 ERA in 22⅔ innings, having allowed a major league-high 10 home runs. Hendricks was bound to improve, considering he gave up 10 home runs all of last season in 12 starts, and his lowest ERA in the previous five years was 3.46.

That improvement hit the Dodgers like a freight train in the opener of the doubleheader, with Hendricks taking a shutout into the seventh, only spoiled by Keibert Ruiz, who, like 2020, hit the first pitch he saw in 2021 for a home run.

Hendricks settled for a complete-game win.


Game 1 Boxscore:


WP: Kyle Hendricks (2-3 / 6.07 ERA)

LP: Clayton Kershaw (4-3 / 2.95 ERA)

HR: Keibert Ruiz (1); Jake Marisnick (3)


The Dodgers and Cubs were right back at it at 4:40pm with Trevor Bauer starting for the Dodgers and right-hander Keegan Thompson starting the Cubs.


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