After back-to-back games where the Los Angeles Dodgers managed to shut out the Chicago Cubs, the Cubs’ bats responded to win Games 4 and 5 of the National League Championship Series behind a resurgent offense.
That leaves the stakes high for Game 6, with Chicago looking to punch their ticket to the World Series for the first time since 1945. On of the Cubs’ shutouts was in large part due to facing Clayton Kershaw, who starts Game 6.
Kershaw had six strikeouts and threw seven shutout innings in Game 2, and was backed by two scoreless frames from Kenley Jansen in the Dodgers’ 1-0 victory.
Los Angeles has won all four of the games that Kershaw has pitched in this postseason, and are just 1-5 in all other contests. In his four games (three starts), Kershaw is 2-0 with a save, and has given up 17 hits and eight runs in 19.1 innings while striking out 25.
The Cubs counter with one of the top Cy Young candidates this season, Kyle Hendricks. The right-hander went 16-8 with an MLB-best 2.13 ERA. Hendricks pitched well in Game 2, throwing 5.1 innings with the lone run allowed coming on an Adrian Gonzalez solo homer.
In effort to help spark the offense, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts switched Andrew Toles and Chase Utley, putting Toles in the leadoff spot for the first time in his young career. The speedy outfielder is 7-for-19 (.368 batting average) with six runs scored and two RBIs this postseason.
Utley, on the other hand, is 0-for-10 with two walks in the series, and 3-for-26 overall this postseason. He drops down to eighth in the order.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon also made a change to his lineup, starting with the right-handed hitting Albert Almora Jr. in right field over Jason Heyward. While the Cubs have two home games to win one, history has not been kind to them.
Holding a 3-2 lead in the 2003 NLCS, the Cubs suffered consecutive home losses to the then-Florida Marlins. Included in that was the infamous Steve Bartman incident, when he took a foul ball away from left fielder Moises Alou in Game 6.
LF: Andrew Toles
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
RF: Josh Reddick
CF: Joc Pederson
C: Yasmani Grandal
2B: Chase Utley
P: Clayton Kershaw
CF: Dexter Fowler
3B: Kris Bryant
1B: Anthony Rizzo
LF: Ben Zobrist
2B: Javier Baez
C: Wilson Contreras
SS: Addison Russell
RF: Albert Almora Jr.
P: Kyle Hendricks