By Richard Kagan
For Cubs fans, the suspense ended early. The Los Angeles Dodgers, with a 16 hit attack, took out the Chicago Cubs in a barrage of hits and long balls. LA’s Kike Hernandez hit three home runs, including a grand slam blast to put an exclamation point in just the third inning.
By then the score was 7-0 Dodgers and starter Jose Quintana was headed to an early shower. The rest of the Cubs BP didn’t stem the tide, and the Dodgers coasted to the win. Clayton Kershaw give up just one run, a homer to Kris Bryant, and that’s all the scoring the Cubs could muster. The Cubs lost in a 11-1 rout. If it was a boxing match, it would have been called early. This game was one-sided and it showed in the team’s total bases: Dodgers 30, Cubs 7.
Justin Turner and Chris Taylor were named co-MVP’s for the series, which the Dodgers won in five games. Turner batted .333 and drove in 12 rbi’s. Taylor was all over this series, getting key hits and playing different positions. He batted .316 in five games. The Cubs, meanwhile hit .156 BA and had struck out 53 times. Anthony Rizzo, one of their hitting stars, batted .059. Their eight runs scored on home runs, not one was driven in with a runner on a base. The Dodgers pitching was that dominant. The relief corps did not allow a Cub run to score in the late innings. The Cubs managed just four hits off LA pitching in the clinching game.
Hernandez hit home runs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 9th innings and drove in 7 runs in the game. His three home runs was reminiscent of Reggie Jackson’s three home runs hit in the World Series against the Dodgers in Yankee Stadium in 1977.
The Dodgers were the better team and they will play the winner of the Houston-New York series that the upstart Yankees lead 3-2 in the best of seven series.
The Cubs won the Central Division for the second straight year. The club had the second best record since the All-star Break in the Majors behind Cleveland, who went on a 22 game winning streak during the summer. The Cubs had good starting pitching as Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks had strong second-halves. Arrieta is a free-agent and may be looking for a big payday, based upon his production with the Cubs. He won the Cy Young Award in 2015. Chicago has been the NLCS in three consecutive years.
However, it’s back to the drawing board for the Cubs. Their core players are young and talented with a World Series pedigree. They have the revenue to find the missing pieces they need. The team traded away blue-chip prospects in Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez to land Quintana, who was a boost to the Cubs.
The Cubs drew over 3 million fans to a ballpark that seats 41,000 people. The Cubs will learn from this experience and it could help them to contend again in the upcoming seasons.