Chicago shut out the Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the NLCS, winning their first pennant since 1945. USA TODAY Sports
CHICAGO — Breaking down Game 6 of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday.
Cubs 5, Dodgers 0: Cubs win series, 4-2.
The game: Pitching on full rest with his club facing elimination, Clayton Kershawentered Game 6 with an opportunity to shake his reputation for underwhelming postseason performances. He didn’t.
The Cubs got the scoring started early against the best pitcher on the planet, plating two runs in the bottom of the first inning on a pair of hits, a costly error by Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles, and a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist. They tacked on two more hits and another run off Kershaw in the second, scored again on a Willson Contrerashomer in the fourth, and extended the lead to 5-0 behind an Anthony Rizzo solo shot in the fifth.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, meanwhile, mowed his way through the Dodgers’ lineup. Hendricks allowed a single to Toles to lead off the game, but got a double-play ball from No. 2 hitter Corey Seager and did not allow another hit until the top of the eighth inning.
Man of the moment: Hendricks. During his media availability session on Thursday, the Cubs’ Game 6 starter and 2016 MLB ERA leader admitted to being far more aware of his opposing pitcher during the postseason than during the season. Hendricks squared off with a three-time Cy Young Award winner on Saturday and wildly outpitched him, relying on impeccable command, multiple incarnations of his fastball and changeup, and good defense behind him to shut down the Dodgers’ offense. Hendricks faced the minimum through seven innings, and left after allowing only his second hit of the evening with one out in the eighth.
Pivot point: Kershaw’s third pitch of the night, on which Dexter Fowler lofted a ground-rule double down the right-field line. Fowler scored on a single by No. 2 hitterKris Bryant, and the Cubs never trailed.
What you missed on TV: Smiling Cubs fans spilling out of every nook and cranny of Wrigley Field. The Wrigley faithful, waiting since 1945 for a World Series berth, cheerily negotiated crushing crowds at every concession stand and bathroom to watch their club win the National League championship.
Manager’s special: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts spent all postseason demonstrating his willingness to go to closer Kenley Jansen earlier than usual to keep his team in games. Roberts called on Jansen in the sixth inning on Friday, and Jansen rewarded his manager with an excellent outing that kept the game as tight as possible. The Dodgers’ bats just couldn’t pull it any closer.
State of the series: The Cubs get two days to enjoy their place in history before traveling to Cleveland for World Series Game 1 on Tuesday. Outside of Hendricks, every pitcher in their starting rotation will be fully rested in time for the start of the series. Jon Lester, who threw seven strong innings to win Game 5 of the series, appears the likely candidate to start against Indians ace Corey Kluber.