Kershaw in Cubs’ way
Pennant chase goes through ace lefty — or it’s on to Game 7
CHICAGO — The temptation to look ahead to the World Series is great, but the challenge of beating t hree- t i me National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is even greater.
“Honestly, it’s just like any normal game until you get to those last couple innings,” Ben Zobrist said of playing in a playoffclinching game.
The Cubs hope to realize that distinction tonight for the first time since 1945 when they face the Dodgers and Kershaw in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field.
“You just try to stay in the moment, stay focused on doing the job early in the game, trying to get a lead [and] hold the lead,” Zobrist said. “Sometimes your mind can wander thinking about this really means something here, winning the Series and such. But even at that moment, you try to put those thoughts out of your mind and go out and win the game.
“We know we’ve got a challenge ahead of us in Kershaw again. Hopefully we can get a lead early and keep it going.”
The Cubs would like to avoid a Game 7, get an extra day of rest and line up their rotation for the World Series. But they’ll have to overcome Kershaw, who beat them, 1-0, in Game 2 at Wrigley and will have the benefit of five days’ rest to let his valuable left arm recuperate as well as further strengthen his back after missing 21⁄ months because of a herniated disk.
Kershaw relied mostly on fastballs to limit the Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw stands between the Cubs and the National League pennant in Game 6 on Saturday. Cubs lead 3-2 Game 1: Cubs 8-4 Game 2: Dodgers 1-0 Game 3: Dodgers 6-0 Game 4: Cubs 10-2 Game 5: Cubs 8-4 Game 6: Dodgers (Kershaw) at Cubs (Hendricks), 8 tonight, FS1 Game 7: Dodgers (Hill) at Cubs (Arrieta), 8 p.m. Sunday (if nec.), FS1 Cubs to two hits over seven innings Sunday, but their recent familiarity might help them fare better.
“I always think the advantage goes to the hitters when you’re seeing a guy [in back-to-back starts],” Anthony Rizzo said. “But we’ll have to capitalize on every other detail.”
That means gaining more success earlier than last time, when Kershaw retired the first 14 batters before Javier Baez collected the first of his two hits against him.
“He’s going to come at you early,” a veteran National League scout said. “You’ve got to be ready for his fastball early and do something. He’ll tend to mix in his secondary pitches, sliders and curves, the second time around.
“It’s not easy because he’ll throw that slider in [to right-handed batters] to keep them honest.”
By taking two of three at Dodger Stadium, the Cubs regained home-field advantage at what’s expected to be a delirious Wrigley Field. They’ll get another shot Sunday if they don’t beat Kershaw.
“I like our chances,” Rizzo said.