Chicago Cubs 5, LA Dodgers 0
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
CHICAGO – (Wire Service Report) – It didn’t take long for the customary white victory flag to be hoisted above the Wrigley Field scoreboard on Saturday night. But this banner featuring a large blue W celebrated a very special win, one 71 years in the making. The Chicago Cubs are going to their first World Series since 1945 thanks to Saturday’s 5-0 National League Championship Series-clinching triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers.Owner Tom Ricketts, representing generations of Cubs fans, knows the significance.
“It really feels great because of all the people who supported us through some pretty lean years,” said Ricketts, a longtime fan before his family bought the Cubs. “Getting to the World Series is great but the goal is to win. We broke a 71-year streak, now let’s break that other one.”
The Cubs, just four years removed from a 96-loss season, will face AL champion Cleveland in the World Series next week as they seek their first world championship since 1908. The players, who hugged and cheered each other on the field after the game, also saluted fans before adjourning to the clubhouse for champagne and beer showers.
“Definitely this is for them,” said right-hander Kyle Hendricks, winning pitcher in Saturday’s clincher. “They have been waiting a long time for it. Best fans in baseball.”
Saturday’s win started with a sterling effort from Hendricks, who allowed just two hits over 7 1/3 scoreless innings while teammates provided early and ample support. The Game 6 victory in front of 42,386 exhilarated fans gave the Cubs a 4 games to 2 NLCS triumph over the Dodgers as they solved the previously unhittable Clayton Kershaw. Cubs left-hander Jon Lester and second baseman Javier Baez were named co-MVPs of the series.
Hendricks (1-1 postseason) allowed a leadoff base hit and then little else as he dominated the Dodgers — recording 18 straight outs until Josh Reddick’s one-out single in the eighth. Hendricks, who struck out six and walked none, departed after that and closer Aroldis Chapman took it from there with an inning-ending double play in the eighth and a scoreless ninth. Dexter Fowler went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored while Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo added solo home runs for the winners.
Kershaw (2-1) took the loss after an uncharacteristically rough outing.
He gave up five runs (four earned) over five innings, including two home runs. Kershaw, working on six days rest, struck out four and threw 94 pitches while allowing runs in four of five innings worked.
“This is kind of ironically one of the few days that he did have extra rest,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He had the psyche, the preparedness obviously is never in question, and it’s just one of those nights that they took advantage of some mistakes.”
Baez’s latest defensive gem came in the first inning on Corey Seager’s grounder with no outs. Baez alertly tagged a sprinting Andrew Toles as he approached second base and then threw to first to catch Seager for a double play. The Cubs then scored twice in their half of the first. Fowler led off by looping a 1-1 pitch down the right-field line for a double. He scored when Kris Bryant lined a shot to nearly the same spot for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead. Rizzo landed on second base when Toles mishandled a liner as the ball hit the heel pad of his glove. Bryant dashed for third and came home for a 2-0 lead on Ben Zobrist’s sacrifice to center. Addison Russell led off the second with a double to left and scored on Fowler’s two-out single to left for a 3-0 lead.
Kershaw hit the 55-pitch mark early in the third when Rizzo doubled to the left-field wall. Zobrist’s second sacrifice of the night moved Rizzo to third, where he remained as Baez struck out to close the inning. Contreras made it 4-0 to lead off the fourth when he launched an 0-1 pitch to the left-field bleachers. Rizzo tagged Kershaw with a homer to right with two out in the fifth for a 5-0 lead. In his previous start last Sunday against the Cubs, Kershaw gave up just two hits and struck out six in seven shutout innings in a 1-0 win. Hendricks took the loss in that game even as he allowed just one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings.
“There was a lot of talk, obviously, about the guy on the other side there — Kershaw,” Hendricks said. “Best in the game, lived up to it in Game 2. But my focus was the same as always, make good pitches, simplify as much as I can and keep my team in the game.”
NOTES: Saturday’s Game 6 weather was clear and pleasant with temperatures that fell into the low 50s after sunset, a nearly 40-degree swing from Thursday’s 88-degree first pitch in Los Angeles for Game 5. … Dodgers 3B Justin Turner had a postseason .313 batting average entering Saturday’s game but saw the end to an on-base streak of 15 straight postseason games since Oct. 9, 2015, that broke a tie with OF Carl Furillo (1953-56) for the Dodgers’ team record. … Chicago made the surprise activation of OF-C Kyle Schwarber before Saturday’s game and assigned him to the Arizona Fall League. Schwarber, who missed nearly the entire regular season following knee surgery, could be on the World Series roster as an extra left-handed bat. … LHP Giovanni Soto was designated for assignment to maintain a 40-man roster. … The Cubs sat RF Jason Heyward for Saturday’s Game 6, replacing him with Albert Almora Jr. Heyward was batting only .071 in nine games with two hits, including a triple.