Chicago Cubs travel out to Los Angeles, setting up NLCS rematch

May 14, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) pitches during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) pitches during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports /
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Following a successful home stand, the Chicago Cubs boarded a plane and made their way out to Los Angeles. Seven months after their NLCS showdown, it’s time for both teams to collide yet again.

Well, it’s safe to say that the Chicago Cubs have been playing fantastic baseball thus far. Joe Maddon and his first-place club won seven out of nine games at Wrigley Field.

Either way, 7-2 at home is something they needed after dropping so many games in front of their home crowd to begin the year. Their offense has come alive, raining home runs on opposing pitchers all while scoring with two outs in a frame.

Now, all eyes are focused on a brief six-game California trip that will end in San Diego next Wednesday. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to seeing Matt Szczur again.

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Until then, let’s talk about two of the top teams in the National League. Last year, both teams earned a trip to play for the National League Pennant. And when it looked like the Dodgers were on their way to the World Series, Chicago woke up.

Prior to their historical 3-1 World Series comeback, the Cubs (25-21) proved to the world that they were no longer a joke. Both Jon Lester and Javier Baez earned themselves co-LCS MVP honors after defeating the Dodgers (28-20) in six games to advance.

The Snake Bite

Their first World Series appearance since 1945. Taking the mound in Game 1 of this three-game set will be right-hander, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta (5-3, 4.80 ERA), missed out on Los Angeles’ first encounter with the defending champs between April 10th and 13th.

Looking back at his lone appearance against the Dodgers back in October, things didn’t necessarily go in Arrieta’s favor. In fact, Los Angeles hammered him for four earned runs on six hits, including two big flies over the course of five long innings.

Los Angeles earned themselves a 2-1 series lead following the victory, sparking Chicago’s three-game rally to clinch the pennant. However, he turned in his best outing of the year in his previous start.

Undefeated

In six innings of work, he held the Milwaukee Brewers to a single unearned run on five hits. In addition, he walked only one batter and struck out six, earning his fifth win in a row.

He’ll have his hands full tonight as he takes on undefeated southpaw, Alex Wood. Wood (5-0, 1.88 ERA), unlike Arrieta, appeared in that Home Opener series back in early April. In fact, his outing against Chicago was his shortest of the year.

Wood’s day was ended after 3 2/3, allowing one earned run on three hits. The Cubs would later walk-off on an Anthony Rizzo RBI single in the home half of the ninth.

Next: Rizzo hasn't been all that bad

Since then, things have been a whole lot better for the 26-year-old hurler. Wood has been lights out in his previous three starts, pitching 18 1/3 scoreless frames while posting a whopping 24/4 K/BB ratio.

Tonight’s contest is definitely going to have that LCS feel. You can catch all the action on the MLB Network, ABC-7, and 670 The Score AM starting at 9:05 p.m. CT.