Dodgers Take Series Opener Behind Stellar Maeda
Monday evening the Dodgers welcomed the Chicago Cubs to town for a 4-game series that would pit last year’s NLCS rivals against each other for the 7th time in the last 10 games. They were quickly greeted with a Kenta Maeda that was on top of his game. He would collect 9 strikeouts over the course of 7 innings while spreading out just 3 hits. Perhaps the most impressive feat for him was his efficiency; he managed to leave the game with just 84 pitches and pitch through 7 complete innings for just the 2nd time this season.
Offensively the team wasn’t nearly as crisp, offering Maeda just 1 run of support despite loading the bases in the bottom of the 1st and quickly racking up the pitch count in Duane Underwood Jr.’s major league debut.
14 pitch AB by Matt Kemp results in a walk to load bases with 2 Outs in Bot 1st Inning #Dodgers #Cubs
— . (@THEREAL_DV) June 26, 2018
But in true 2018 fashion, the team proved they would once again ride the long ball. Kike Hernandez opened up the scoring in the 2nd with a long drive into the left field bleachers for his 13th home run of the season – and possibly his 2nd using Chase Utley’s bat?
When Dad lets you use his bat… #Dodgers pic.twitter.com/fxbtgZw7lx
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 26, 2018
Alexander would come in to replace Maeda in the 8th with the Dodgers hanging on to a slim 1 – 0 lead. After allowing consecutive base hits to Happ and Contreras, Alexander grounded Albert Almora Jr. into an inning-ending double play – effectively quashing a huge scoring opportunity for the Cubs.
With the momentum on their side, Chris Taylor smashed a pinch-hit solo shot in the bottom of the 8th off Cubs’ southpaw Justin Wilson – a run that would prove to be the key in the game with Kenley Jansen coming in for the save.
The #Dodgers have 48 HR in June.
— AlaNNa Rizzo (@alannarizzo) June 26, 2018
The Cubs were determined to not go down without a fight. Against the Dodgers’ closer, who had allowed just 2 ERs over his last 27 appearances, they mounted a small rally after singles from Zobrist and Rizzo and deep sacrifice fly from the scorching hot Javier Baez. Kenley would ultimately get Schwarber to ground out, sealing the 2 – 1 series-opening victory and his 20th save of the season.
The Dodgers remain scorching hot in the Los Angeles summer, with an MLB best 16 and 5 record in the month of June.
Tomorrow we should expect another pitcher’s duel, with Dodgers’ ace Ross Stipling taking the hill against the Cubs’ Jon Lester.
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