The Los Angeles Dodgers evened the best of seven National League Championship Series at 1-1 on Sunday thanks to some fine pitching from Clayton Kershaw and the bullpen.
At the same time, the Dodgers may have exposed the one problem the Cubs have – Chicago’s 3-4-5 hitters this postseason are a combined 6 for 60.
Thanks to a dominating performance on the mound by Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, the closer the Dodgers won Game 2 by a score of 1-0.
The game’s only run was a home run by Dodger’s first baseman Adrian Gonzalez leading off the second inning.
The National League’s best offense looked as if it went to bat without its hardware. Kershaw was pitching a perfect game when he started the fifth, as Chicago only had one shot at scoring with two on and two out during the fifth.
However, with its 3-4-5 hitters batting only .100 the Cubs could be facing some problems. Anthony Rizzo an MVP candidate, Ben Zobrist an extraordinaire as a utility man and Addison Russell the exceptional shortstop need to step up as they did all season.
Zobrist has 3 doubles during the postseason and has 4 of the 6 hits amongst the three Cubs hitters.
Clutch hitting and depth on the roster has helped to cover up the faulty production in the Cubs heart of the order this postseason, but versus baseball’s best one two punch in Kershaw then Jansen, Chicago’s slump became all the more apparent.
Pitchers for Chicago are carrying their load. The defense for the Cubs is pulling its own weight, but hitters need to find their bats and quickly.
The slump by Rizzo must be of a big concern to the Cubs. With Kris Bryant in the Cubs second spot in the batting order, Rizzo should be seeing more fastballs when he comes to bat if batters behind him were carrying their weight.
Chicago may reverse that for Game 3 by moving Rizzo to No. 2 and putting Bryant at No. 3 giving Rizzo an opportunity to see a few more fastballs.
The wait for the hitting to come around will start to work on the nerves of manager Joe Maddon, even though Chicago has still been in every game it has played during the playoffs even with a hole in the 3-4-5 part of the batting order.
In the back of the minds of Cubs’ fans and coaches, is that if they want to end their 108-year old curse, hitters in the 3-4-5 spots have to break through.