The Chicago Cubs will attempt to stave off elimination for the second consecutive night as they go up against the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight. The Dodgers took the first three games of the series in a decisive manor, but the Cubs kept their playoff hopes alive for at least one more day with their 3-2 victory in Game 4 last night. As the two teams get set to face off in Game 5, here are a couple of reasons why the Cubs can win tonight’s game and take this series back to L.A.
Game 5 will feature a rematch between the two starters from Game 1, as Jose Quintana and Clayton Kershaw will get the start for their respective teams. In that first matchup in L.A. Quintana was able to match Kershaw pitch for pitch, and you could even argue that he out-dueled the Dodgers’ ace. Both pitchers were only to make it through 5 innings, gave up 2 earned runs, and notched 4 strikeouts in that game, but Quintana did it while allowing fewer baserunners and facing fewer hitters. Overall the final lines from each starter were extremely similar, and that alone should be enough reason to trust Quintana with the ball in an important game.
Since being acquired by trade from the Chicago White Sox in the middle of the season, Quintana has shown the ability to go deep into games and shut down the opposition. His last effort was another case why he can be a big game pitcher, even if he didn’t go beyond the 5th inning. If he is able to match Kershaw again and go at least 6 innings in this game, then he will have done his job.
The Long Ball
The Cubs have scored 7 runs over the course of the NLCS so far, and every run has been scored by a home run. While this is initially seems like completely bad news because of their inability to manufacture runs, it may end up being a good thing for them tonight. Kershaw has allowed at least one home run in each of his last 7 starts, including a 2-run shot to Albert Almora in Game 1.
Every Cub that has hit a home run in this series is in tonight’s starting lineup. Almora will be the lead off man as he gets the start in center field, and second baseman Javier Baez, who finally broke out of his postseason slump with a pair of solo shots last night, hits in the 7th spot of the order.
If the Cubs are able to knock out a home run or two against Kershaw and get another solid outing out of Quintana, then they will have a good chance of moving the series back to L.A. There are plenty of other areas that need to improve for this Cubs team to have a better shot over the rest of this series, but as long as they are in it you can never count them out.
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