Run for the Ring: NLCS Game 5
The Cubs couldn’t have drawn up the scenario for Game 5 any better.
After tying the series in Game 4 of the NLCS, the Cubs had everything going for them.
Their offense — which struggled mightily in Games 2 and 3 — awoke in a big way in Game 4, they were guaranteed to head back to Wrigley Field for Game 6 and, most importantly, had their big-game pitcher Jon Lester on the mound at Dodger Stadium.
Things played out just as the Cubs could have hoped. Lester turned in another strong, dominant postseason effort, the offense continued its hot run and the Cubs took a 3-2 series lead back to Wrigley Field as they beat the Dodgers 8-4 in Game 5.
Both Lester and Javy Báez solidified their NLCS MVP candidacies in Game 5.
Dave Roberts and the Dodgers tried a bunt-heavy approach to try and get the best of Lester. The Dodgers were well aware of Lester’s lack of comfortability in fielding, so they tried to expose that by bunting heavily – sluggers Adrián González and Joc Pederson each bunted three times in the game. But Lester and the Cubs defense was more than up to the task.
Lester pitched 7 innings of 1-run ball, striking out 6 and allowing just 5 hits, stymieing the Dodger hitters.
With the bases loaded, carrying a 5-1 lead and with 2 outs in the top of the 8th, Báez broke things open. He ripped a fly ball over Yasiel Puig’s head in right field, clearing the bases and giving the Cubs a monumental 8-1 lead.
Addison Russell continued his strong run from Game 4, hitting his second 2-run home run in as many days in the 6th inning, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Russell kickstarted the Cubs offense in the 8th, too, as they opened the floodgates.
Russell reached on an error, Contreras singled and both moved into scoring position on an Albert Almora sacrifice bunt. Dexter Fowler hit a sharp groundball to González at first, who thought of throwing home, but opted to try and get the force at first but Fowler beat him to the bag. Kris Bryant followed with an infield single to short to score Contreras. After an Anthony Rizzo lineout, the Dodgers walked Ben Zobrist to load the bases ahead of Báez’ big hit.
Here’s how the two teams initially lined up in Los Angeles for Game 5:
Dexter Fowler – CF
Kris Bryant – 3B
Anthony Rizzo – 1B
Ben Zobrist – LF
Javy Báez – 2B
Jason Heyward – RF
Addison Russell – SS
David Ross – C
Jon Lester – P
Kiké Hernández – 2B
Justin Turner – 3B
Corey Seager – SS
Carlos Ruiz – C
Howie Kendrick – LF
Adrián González – 1B
Yasiel Puig – RF
Joc Pederson – CF
Kenta Maeda – P
Aroldis Chapman made things interesting in the ninth inning. Although the Cubs led 8-2, Chapman came in and allowed a pair of runs to score before he got Justin Turner to ground out with Josh Reddick at second base to end the game.