The Los Angeles Dodgers are one win away from eliminating the defending champions and reaching their first World Series in 29 years.
Los Angeles seized a commanding 3-0 lead in the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 6-1 victory in Game 3 at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. Yu Darvish did exactly what the Dodgers envisioned when they acquired him from the Texas Rangers via trade in July, allowing one run on six hits and one walk while striking out seven in 6.1 innings.
Solo home runs by Andre Ethier and Chris Taylor as well as Taylor's RBI triple provided enough offense as Darvish and the Dodgers' shutdown bullpen flummoxed Cubs hitters.
Darvish appeared destined for a short outing after he allowed a solo home run to Kyle Schwarber and two singles in the first, but he settled in and pitched like the four-time All-Star he is.
Scott Miller of Bleacher Report highlighted why it was such a blow for Chicago to miss an early opportunity to do more damage:
Scott Miller @ScottMillerBbl
Joe Maddon explained pregame why it's important to jump on Yu Darvish early. Gets better as he goes. Now it is being illustrated.2017-10-18 03:17:31
Darvish even played a part with his bat, though he didn't really need it during his sixth-inning plate appearance. Carl Edwards Jr.—who entered for Kyle Hendricks after an error by Kris Bryant and a single by Ethier—walked Darvish on four pitches with the bases loaded.
The Los Angeles starter matched his one career regular-season RBI with the plate appearance and extended his team's advantage to 4-1 in the process.
Hendricks allowed four runs, including three earned, on six hits and a walk while striking out five in five-plus innings and failed to replicate his performance from Game 6 of last year's NLCS, when he outdueled Clayton Kershaw to help punch the Cubs' ticket to the World Series.
His inability to protect the early 1-0 advantage meant Chicago lost its third straight game in the series after scoring first.
The one run wasn't going to hold up against the Dodgers with the wind blowing out, though, and Ethier's second-inning blast tied the contest before Taylor's third-inning shot put the visitors up for good.
Los Angeles Dodgers @Dodgers
Happy TuesDre. #ThisTeam https://t.co/bJ5VLA40Gl2017-10-18 01:53:23
Los Angeles Dodgers @Dodgers
Call him Crush Taylor. #ThisTeam https://t.co/sgwKWPdqju2017-10-18 02:21:06
Taylor was far from done, as his RBI triple in the fifth plated Joc Pederson, though Anthony Rizzo threw him out at home on Cody Bellinger's grounder to keep the Cubs within striking distance.
Seattle Mariners fans would have been wise to look away, as Greg Johns of MLB.com pointed out:
Greg Johns @GregJohnsMLB
Chris Taylor had no HRs and one triple in 86 games over 3 seasons with Mariners. He's got a HR and triple in 5 innings tonight in NLCS.2017-10-18 02:41:17
Los Angeles added two insurance runs in the eighth. Logan Forsythe scored on a passed ball, and Kyle Farmer drove in Austin Barnes with a sacrifice fly.
While the Dodgers bullpen did its job yet again, the one downside for the victors was the fact two-time All-Star Kenley Jansen didn't receive the day off. Tony Watson retired both batters he faced in the seventh, Brandon Morrow pitched a scoreless eighth, and Ross Stripling gave up a single and double in the final frame before Jansen cleaned up the mess with a pop out and two strikeouts.
Chicago will turn to 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta to keep its season alive in Wednesday's Game 4 at Wrigley. Los Angeles will counter with Alex Wood—who will be making his first career postseason start—and simply needs to win one of the next four games to advance.