Kenta Maeda Shuts Down Cubs, Dodgers Hang On

Kenta Maeda

Ok so let’s not talk about the Dodgers getting only two hits against rookie Duane Underwood Jr. and having only three hits through the first five innings. They only needed two of them, an Enrique Hernandez solo home run in the second, and another solo shot from Chris Taylor in the eighth. Kenta Maeda shutdown the Cubs over seven shutout frames and the Dodgers got a clutch double play in the top of the eighth and then survived a late Chicago rally to squeak by with a 2-1 win.

The Dodgers were flying home after sweeping the awful Mets to open a ten game home stand against the Cubs. The Cubs on the other hand had just gotten swept by the woeful Reds. The good news was that the Dodgers wouldn’t have to face Jon Lester. The bad news is they’ll have to face Lester tomorrow. On the other hand Duane Underwood, a rookie making his first MLB start or appearance looked extremely hittable. Until he wasn’t, limiting the Dodgers to just two hits across four innings.

The Dodgers did have an opportunity to score early when they loaded the bases in the bottom of the first. Two walks and a single put Dodgers on every base in the opening frame, but Yasmani Grandal flied out, the Dodgers stranding everyone. Hernandez led off the second inning with his thirteenth home run of the season, (using Utley’s bat) a laser into the left field corner.

Cubs       1 7 0

Dodgers 2 5 0

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LP-Underwood-0-1

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HR-Hernandez-13-Taylor-9

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The Dodgers held onto their 1-0 lead for most of the game. The Cubs threatened in the top of the fifth, putting two runners on but Maeda got out of it when the Cubs bunted into a double play. Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ singled to start the frame. Tommy La Stella grounded out to end the inning.

The Dodgers had a runner (Justin Turner) thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the sixth. Cody Bellinger doubled into left, Schwarber misplayed the ball as Bellinger strode into third. Turner was trying to score but was thrown out by the relay throw to Baez. Matt Kemp immediately grounded out after the Cubs made a pitching change.

Maeda was excellent. He was truly magnificent tossing seven shutout innings allowing just three hits and striking out nine. He only made 84 pitches and I have no idea why the Dodgers removed him. Southpaw Scott Alexander pitched the top of the eighth and was able to induce a clutch double play that cleaned up his own mess. That inning started when Happ and Contreras singled. There was a force out, and then Albert Almora Jr. grounded into an inning ending double play. On this play Hernandez made the stop and Bellinger’s pick at first was just in time to get Almora by a step.

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Chris Taylor led off the bottom of the eighth by hitting a solo home run over the center field wall off of Justin Wilson. That gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. The question was would the lead hold? Kenley Jansen enters to close it out, and gets off to a shaky start. After Heyward popped out, Ben Zobrist singles off of Hernandez’s glove. Anthony Rizzo’s single to left, Zobrist advances to third on a balk and the Dodgers are really in trouble. Javier Baez drives a long fly ball to center, but Bellinger tracks it down at the warning track for a long scary out. Zobrist scores though on the sacrifice fly to make the score 2-1 Dodgers. Problem for the Cubs is that they’re still down by a run and two outs. Kenley recovers to get Schwarber to tap out in front of the plate. The Dodgers win it!

The Dodgers also picked up a game on the Dbacks after they lost their game to the Marlins. This was the game the Dodgers had to have with Lester looming tomorrow. Good thing the Dodgers have trusty Ross Stripling to counter.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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26 thoughts on “Kenta Maeda Shuts Down Cubs, Dodgers Hang On

  1. We let Underwood off the hook and could have put their bullpen into a real hole for the rest of the series. But a win is a win.

    1. YF

      I would say both teams looked like they had jet lag, but we were facing a rookie in his first start, and the Cubs were facing a good Maeda.

      The Cubs had more hits, but we hit with more power.

      But your right, it is to bad we didn’t get into their bullpen deeper.

      But this next game will tell us a lot more, with Lester pitching.

      We have no excuses about the wind this time.

      Did everyone see that Cody had the second farthest HR in the MLB this year, in Sunday’s game?

      Orel and Joe, said Joc hit the farthest ball in Sunday’s game, but at Think Blue, they had an article that showed Cody hit the ball farther, in fact, like I already said, Cody hit second farthest HR in the MLB this year.

      I guess we will have to call Orel and Joe, Charlie.

      But I liked even more, that Cody has went the other way, in the last few games, even better.

      1. Some are reporting that the distance for Bellinger’s HR was incorrectly reported. From the video it did not seem to me to be anywhere close to 484 ft. (“Too high! Too high!” … from Major League).

        Anyways, I don’t really feel the love for the tape measure and exit velocity. What I see is some of our hitters improving as follows:

        1. Bellinger hitting high heaters and mistake pitches like he used to, whereas he had been missing those earlier in the season. He was a fantastic mistake pitch hitter last year.
        2. Puig, Pederson and now Kike look to be taking in the coaching. They are keeping both hands on the handle all the way into the follow through, which improves their bat control and are still hitting balls out of the park. This is a great sign. Pederson and Kike for the last two years were swinging out of their shoes before. They’re not contact hitters by any means but they can do well with more controlled swings that keeps their barrels in the strike zone longer.
        3. Grandal is still swinging out of his shoes. No improvement yet from this guy.

        1. I thought the best hit of the night was the 6’3” 240 pound Anthony Rizzo choking up and slapping a 2 strike pitch to left with a runner in scoring position. Who does that anymore? Just him and Votto.

          Long home runs are fun to watch, and when the Dodgers have that going on they look like monsters. 1 run monsters, but, monsters. Can they score without doing that? Hope so. I did see a safety squeeze the other night. Surprised the hell out of me. I haven’t seen the Dodgers do that in……. don’t even recall when I last saw that.

          1. YF

            I don’t get into tape measured HRs either, but with all the tools they now have in baseball, I thought it was odd, with this discrepancy on both player’s HRs.

            And I think it is way to soon to know, on some of the players you mentioned, because they tend to be streaky hitters.

          2. Badger

            Cody has done the same as Rizzo, in the last few games, and even last night.

            And Cody was the one that really made that safety squeeze be successful, because really, Kike bunted that ball, right back at the pitcher.

            It was Cody’s speed, and his athletic slide, that made that play!

  2. Love those HR’s. That cameo appearance by Taylor was perfect. Hernandez is really making a case for himself this year. Our utility guys seem to have power plus the ability to field.

    We keep creeping closer and closer to taking over 1st place. Game by game, we seem to be doing it. Our pitching is almost neck and neck with Arizona’s. Our batting is far superior to theirs. They are the worst hitting team in the league! even with Goldschmidt.

    Lester will be difficult but not impossible to beat. Let’s see if the boys can find a way.

    1. The worst hitting team in the league? You know batting average means very little these days. The stat du jour of MLB is OPS. They are 23rd, and if Pollock and Souza are ok, they will improve on that. As was so eloquently put by Jim McClennan on May 24th – “the NL West is turning into the baseball equivalent of a Michael Bay movie, with shit blowing up everywhere you look”. 538 now has the Dodgers winning the Division 51%, dbacks 42%. They have us in playoffs 75%, dbacks 69%, us winning the WS at 9%, dbacks 6%. Yeah, we’re better, but, how much better? They are getting several guys back soon. That may not mean anything, but it could be big. I figure we are due for somebody to land on the DL. Who? Throw a dart.

  3. Zobrist was balked to 2nd, not third. Had he been balked to third Rizzo would have been on 2nd and no double play. Zobrist advanced one base on Rizzo’s hit. Maeda was damn good last night and they got 7 innings out of a starter. That to me was huge. I would like to see Jansen get a save with a clean inning. He has had a few lately where there has been traffic on the bases. Alexander got ground outs when he needed them, but caused his own problems giving up 2 hits before he got an out in the 8th. Grandal continues to underwhelm. He has been in a slump for close to 2 months now. Has not been hitting since the end of April.

  4. According to MLB.com, the Yankees are looking to bolster their starting pitching. They are also unwilling to part with Frazier. The Rays are shopping some of their veterans including Ramos, Romo and Archer. Machado still on the table. Texas has put Beltre on the trading block plus a couple of their relievers. Padres would like to pry Michel Franco from the Phillies.

    1. Yankees need starting pitching and a catcher. Grandal, $9 million, Hill, $16.6 million, and Puig for Stanton and Frazier.

      I’m high so I don’t know if that makes any sense.

      I got another one sent to me by a guy who lives in the desert and spends too much time in the sun. Grandal, Forsythe and a blue chip for Realmuto and Castro. And trade Puig for pitching.

      1. They simply do not want to trade Frazier and I doubt he is going anywhere. They just sent him to AAA the other day. Why in the world would they want Hill? They want someone who is going to stay healthy. Their starter problem is directly related to starters who are injured, and catcher, well that’s a short term problem for them since Sanchez is their regular catcher. He is on the DL with a strain in his groin and will be out about a month. Stanton is a pipe dream. They had their shot at him and passed, and I doubt they want to revisit that. I am more reality based. I do not think FAZ makes any MAJOR moves until this offseason. And only then if his hand is forced by Kershaw defecting somewhere else or an edict from ownership saying get us a real super star player. Teams are leery of dealing with FAZ because they are NOT going to trade their primo prospects. They could have Machado if the were to include Buehler in the deal.

  5. ” Kenley Jansen enters to close it out, and gets off to a shaky start.”

    Scott, you can pretty much use this sentence every time Jenley Kansen gets into a game.

    1. Well Badger I just read that Roberts said, they my go to six man rotation temporary, when Buehler comes back, so you will get your wish.

      1. About time.

        Will this give them a better shot at going 7 innings. Probably not. But maybe 6 will be possible more often.

  6. Some minor leaguers in the news.

    On ESPN.com the Dodgers breakout minor leaguer is…
    SS Gavin Lux. Lux was drafted as a light-hitting shortstop and was tracking as such throughout his first two pro seasons. But this year, he’s slugging a whopping .515, up from .362 in 2017. Some of that is driven by the California League’s hitting environment, but note that Lux’s ground ball rate has dropped from 52 percent to 38 percent, so he’s also hitting the ball in the air more, a sign that he’s made a swing change, too.

    Jon Sickels takes a looks at Caleb Ferguson and somehow overlooks his change:
    He’s certainly woken up, posting a 1.53 ERA in 10 starts between Double-A and Triple-A this season with a 52/17 K/BB in 47 innings. Now he’s in the majors and has a 12/2 K/BB in his last nine innings.

    You run down a young pitcher checklist and Ferguson checks all the boxes. Prototype size at 6-3, 215. Low-90s fastball which seems to play up, with occasional higher velocity spikes. A swing-and-miss curveball and a viable change-up. Simple, repeatable mechanics. Good mound presence. Sabermetrically the high strikeout rate is a big positive.

    The only thing missing here is consistently plus command. His ability to locate his secondaries can vary, not surprising given his age and small amount of experience. Command isn’t exactly a weakness, as it has been quite good in some outings, it just needs to be more consistent.

  7. Well, base running ain’t exactly our thang.

    When asked, Dave Roberts explained: Squirrels don’t run, we just hit the ball over the fence and hop around the bases.

      1. 2. Many.

        Cubs are pretty good. Garcia, Paredes, not good. This game now sucks. I’ll read about the comeback in the morning.

          1. 82 pitches in 5 innings that’s why. And he took him out when the game was tied, they scored a run and he was in line for the win until Garcia and Paredes melted down. It happens. Kemp still slumping. Barnes scorched one that was an out and then gets a RBI single on a ball that barely cleared the infield. Positive out of this game was Cody getting 2 hits on solid line drives. Rare fielding error by Puig opened the door for the Cubs and they did what good teams do, they took advantage of the extra out.

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