After the Dodgers' dramatic ninth-inning victory over the Cubs, the National League Championship Series moves to Wrigley Field. The Dodgers, whose home-field advantage has been evident throughout the 2017 postseason, hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.• NLCS Game 3: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET/6 PT on TBSThe reigning world
After the Dodgers' dramatic ninth-inning victory over the Cubs, the National League Championship Series moves to Wrigley Field. The Dodgers, whose home-field advantage has been evident throughout the 2017 postseason, hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
• NLCS Game 3: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET/6 PT on TBS
The reigning world champion Cubs haven't played with the same intensity as they did in 2016. Their offensive production hasn't been good, and their bullpen has been a distinct weakness in the NLCS presented by Camping World. Although Jonathan Lester pitched reasonably well in Game 2, he wasn't brilliant. With the winning run on base in the bottom of the ninth, why didn't Cubs manager Joe Maddon go to his closer Wade Davis instead of John Lackey, who has been a starter for his entire Major League career and has never pitched on two consecutive days?
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While Maddon has been considered one of the best managers in the game, second-year Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is out-managing him. Roberts had a no-pressure September when he could experiment with his players in different roles, especially with his relievers, and it is paying off in the postseason. The Cubs, who didn't have a good first half, battled the Brewers and Cardinals until late September to decide the NL Central.
The Dodgers swept the D-backs in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile, while the Cubs battled the Nationals for five games, and the last one was an epic battle. Coming into the NLCS, the Dodgers were rested, and the Cubs were tired.
Though the Dodgers haven't been knocking the cover off the ball, they haven't relied solely on the home run to score. Four of their nine runs in the series have come with the aid of the home run. In comparison, the Cubs have needed the long ball for all three of their runs.
In its eight innings, the Dodgers' bullpen, the best in the National League during the regular season, has allowed only one baserunner. Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo, who was crowding the plate and led the Majors in this category (24) in 2017. In comparison, the Dodgers have scored six runs off Cubs relievers.
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The Dodgers got 10 solid innings from Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill. Neither needed to be removed from the game after five innings, but with the sensational Dodgers bullpen, Roberts elected to do so so that they would be rested for their next starts.
Although the Cubs' starters -- Jose Quintana and Lester -- have allowed three runs in 9 2/3 innings, they were constantly in trouble. The Dodgers have been taught to work the count, and they have done this throughout the postseason. Whereas Quintana only walked two in five frames, Lester walked five in his 4 2/3.
Throughout the 2017 regular season, the Dodgers provided late-inning heroics, a mark of an excellent team. They have played most games with grit and determination, and Roberts instilled this important virtue in the team when Spring Training began. It has been obvious during the postseason. Whenever the Dodgers have fallen behind in a game, they haven't panicked.
Sunday marked the 29th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's miraculous World Series home run. Justin Turner was 4 and watched it in his grandmother's living room. The Dodgers haven't had a walk-off postseason hit since, until Turner's three-run center-field knock. Like Gibson's, walks set up Turner's homer. This year, Yasiel Puig has worked hard on becoming more disciplined at the plate, and it has been evident throughout the postseason. To begin the ninth, Puig walked. After two outs, Maddon, trying to play the matchups, brought in Lackey, who had poor control. After walking Chris Taylor, Lackey left a pitch over the plate that was deposited into the stands by Turner.
The NLCS moves to Wrigley Field. Unlike Dodger Stadium, it will be chilly. The Dodgers must score early to silence the large crowd. The Cubs must have a good pitching performance by Kyle Hendricks and get their offense going.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at email@example.com.