After dropping the first two games of the series and having their hearts ripped out by Justin Turner, the Cubs were coming home to the Friendly Confines. And they needed to get right in a hurry. Nothing would be better than getting out to an early lead, get Cubs fans fired up, and get that stadium rocking. Which is exactly what happened when Kyle Schwarber stepped to the plate in the bottom of the first (INSERT)
That’s what I’m talking about. Let the big dog eat. And let him flip that bat afterwards. That is exactly what Joe Maddon’s crew needed. The crowd’s going ballistic. The Cubs dugout was fired up. Even the relievers were dancing in the bullpen. The defending champs are back in business. And that lasted for all of half an inning, because in the top of the second, Andre Ethier came up. And went out.
You know you’re pushing the right buttons if you’re Dave Roberts and Andre Ethier, who hit two home runs all year is going yard in his first at-bat. Tie game. But that didn’t last very long, because in the top of the third, along came Chris Taylor.
The guy who had 1 home run entering this season jumped ship for the second time in this series. 2-1 Dodgers. But that wasn’t the end of the game or the end of the series. That moment came in the sixth when Carl Edwards Jr walked Yu Darvish with the bases loaded. It’s one thing for a relief pitcher to walk a starting pitcher with the bases loaded. That’s bad. Doing it on four pitches? That’s terrible. If you want a time of death for the series, it was the moment the fourth ball left Edwards’ hand and Darvish starting jogging down to first.
If Joe Maddon didn’t want to dry hump his bullpen in Game 2, I have no idea what he wanted to do with it in Game 3. You can’t have a reliever walk a pitcher like that. But it wasn’t just the bullpen. Willson Contreras had some weird moments behind the plate, Ian Happ dropped a fly ball in center, and Alex Avila and Albert Almora had a bizarre moment on the base paths where they both ended up on third base, only to be bailed out by the ivy. It seemed like the whole team was melting down. And Maddon doesn’t have any answers.
And as shaky as the Cubs have been on the mound, in the field, and on the bases, it’s not like they’ve been much better at the plate. They’re hitting .160 with 32 strikeouts for the series. And still haven’t scored a run on the Dodgers bullpen. This was a team that faced more than a century’s worth of pressure last season and took it in stride, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d think the moment was getting to them right now.
The moment and the Dodgers. Because LA is rolling. 6-0 in the postseason and 2-0 on the road. Chris Taylor is raking, Yasiel Puig is going Yasiel Puig in the best possible way at the best possible time. And Yu Darvish paid for himself last night. He gave up the homer to Schwarber in the first, but after that, he settled down and pitched into the 7th inning, striking out seven along the way. It’s hard to say that one game makes a big trade entirely worth it, but that one game pretty much made the trade worth it.
Being up 3-0 is much different from being up 2-1. Just as being down 0-3 is totally different from being down 1-2. Dodger fans might not want to hear this, but I’m going to say it anyway. I don’t want to say the series is over, but the series is over. Don’t get me wrong, 2017 Cubs are a good team, I just don’t think they’re the 2004 Red Sox… And they’re dead on arrival… And Maddon and his players are going to have some questions to answer this off-season.