Monday evening the Dodgers welcomed the Chicago Cubs to town for a 4-game series that would pit last year’s NLCS rivals against each other for the 7th time in the last 10 games. They were quickly greeted with a Kenta Maeda that was on top of his game. He would collect 9 strikeouts over the course of 7 innings while spreading out just 3 hits. Perhaps the most impressive feat for him was his efficiency; he managed to leave the game with just 84 pitches and pitch through 7 complete innings for just the 2nd time this season.
Offensively the team wasn’t nearly as crisp, offering Maeda just 1 run of support despite loading the bases in the bottom of the 1st and quickly racking up the pitch count in Duane Underwood Jr.’s major league debut.
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) June 26, 2018
But in true 2018 fashion, the team proved they would once again ride the long ball. Kike Hernandez opened up the scoring in the 2nd with a long drive into the left field bleachers for his 13th home run of the season – and possibly his 2nd using Chase Utley’s bat?
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 26, 2018
Alexander would come in to replace Maeda in the 8th with the Dodgers hanging on to a slim 1 – 0 lead. After allowing consecutive base hits to Happ and Contreras, Alexander grounded Albert Almora Jr. into an inning-ending double play – effectively quashing a huge scoring opportunity for the Cubs.
With the momentum on their side, Chris Taylor smashed a pinch-hit solo shot in the bottom of the 8th off Cubs’ southpaw Justin Wilson – a run that would prove to be the key in the game with Kenley Jansen coming in for the save.
The #Dodgers have 48 HR in June.
— Alanna Rizzo (@alannarizzo) June 26, 2018
The Cubs were determined to not go down without a fight. Against the Dodgers’ closer, who had allowed just 2 ERs over his last 27 appearances, they mounted a small rally after singles from Zobrist and Rizzo and deep sacrifice fly from the scorching hot Javier Baez. Kenley would ultimately get Schwarber to ground out, sealing the 2 – 1 series-opening victory and his 20th save of the season.
The Dodgers remain scorching hot in the Los Angeles summer, with an MLB best 16 and 5 record in the month of June.
Tomorrow we should expect another pitcher’s duel, with Dodgers’ ace Ross Stipling taking the hill against the Cubs’ Jon Lester.
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