An early 4-1 deficit in Game 5 against the Washington Nationals proved to be little more than an annoyance, and now the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs are moving onto the National League Championship Series.
The Cubs will face the Dodgers, thanks in large part to a two-out, four-run rally at the top of the fifth inning off of Max Scherzer. The Washington ace had come into the game out of the bullpen and got two quick outs before the roof caved in on him and the Nationals.
The Cubs won the game 9-8, and they took the series 3-2. Closer Wade Davis came on in the seventh inning to record a seven-out save. He got a huge assist from catcher Willson Contreras, who picked off Jose Lobaton to end the eighth inning.
The Cubs and Dodgers will get underway at Dodgers Stadium Saturday at 8 p.m ET. Here's how the series will play out:
Game 1: Chicago at Los Angeles, 8 p.m., TBS, Oct. 14
Game 2: Chicago at Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m., TBS, Oct. 15
Game 3: Los Angeles at Chicago, TBD. TBS, Oct. 17
Game 4: Los Angeles at Chicago, TBD, TBS, Oct. 18
Game 5: Los Angeles at Chicago, TBD, TBS, Oct. 19 (if necessary)
Game 6: Chicago at Los Angeles, TBD, TBS, Oct. 21 (if necessary)
Game 7: Chicago at Los Angeles, TBD, TBS, Oct. 22 (if necessary)
Tickets for the series can be purchased through StubHub.
The Cubs have been proving their talent and resiliency through the last three seasons. They made it to the NLCS in 2015 where they were swept by the New York Mets. They won the World Series last year against the Cleveland Indians after trailing by a 3-1 margin, and they finished off the Nats in five excruciating games in the NLDS this year.
They have a solid core of proven stars in Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Contreras, Javier Baez and Addison Russell. The starting pitchers are led by Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks, but veteran John Lackey could get the start in Game 1 since he did not pitch in the NLDS against Washington.
The Dodgers have a rested Clayton Kershaw to start Game 1, and he is regularly considered the top pitcher in either league. However, his postseason record (5-7, 4.63 earned-run average) is nowhere near as good as his regular-season record.
For three-quarters of the season the Dodgers were the best team in baseball, but they went through a brutal late-season slump that saw them lose 16-of-17 games. They have emerged from that funk and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS.
Justin Turner hit .462 with a home run and five RBI, while Yasiel Puig hit .455 with four RBI against the Diamondbacks.
This series has all the makings of a classic seven-game battle. The Cubs are the never-say-die defending champions, while the Dodgers are talented, hungry and well-rested.
As tough as the Cubs are, they don't seem to be the team of destiny they were a year ago. The starting pitching is not as effective as it was in 2016, and the Dodgers had their bats going in the NLDS. They should be able to scratch out some clutch runs against the Cubs.
Chicago will have its moments in the series as Rizzo is a tough hitter, Bryant is capable of breaking open any game and Baez is capable of making plays in the field that no other second baseman can attempt.
It comes down to a seventh game. We see the Dodgers winning a tight, well-played seventh game with top closer Kenley Jansen finishing with a flourish.