Chicago Cubs drop Game 1 to Dodgers after taking early lead

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14: Charlie Culberson
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14: Charlie Culberson /

The Chicago Cubs took an early 2-0 lead on an Albert Almora home run. But even after chasing Clayton Kershaw, the Cubs bullpen was unable to hold up as the Dodgers won, 5-2.

The Chicago Cubs bullpen as a whole throughout the year was decent. They were by no means fantastic; they had their moments. But in most cases, they got the job done. The 2017 playoffs have been a different story. It’s been hot and cold, and the pitchers that Joe Maddon was able to count on last season haven’t been consistent. This might not be such an issue if the Cubs were scoring more, but as of now, that’s not the case.

Albert Almora‘s two-run home run in the fourth inning off of Clayton Kershaw gave the Cubs the early lead. The Dodgers responded in the fifth with a RBI double by Yasiel Puig. Charlie Culberson–who was filling in for Corey Seager–hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.

Rondon’s chance…lost

In the sixth, Hector Rondon came into pitch for Joe Maddon. After being left off of the NLDS roster for Justin Wilson, Rondon was trying to prove himself. Unfortunately, he did not. A fastball tailed back over the plate to Chris Taylor, and he drove it into the right-field seats to give the Dodgers a lead they would not relinquish. Puig added a home run in the seventh, and later the home plate rule would come into play.

Justin Turner singled to left field. For all the issues Kyle Schwarber has fielding, he’s got a good arm. He uncorked a throw to Willson Contreras that was on target. Culberson slid into the plate, but there was no call. When Contreras tagged Culberson, he was called out. Oh, but wait. There’s more.

Right call, terrible rule

It was ruled that Contreras didn’t give Culberson a path to the plate, and he was called safe. It could be said that the throw took him back into the path, but it was irrelevant. By the rule, it was the right call. But as a rule, it’s ridiculous. For the last 100 years, this would have been regarded as a fantastic play by Contreras. Now it’s not. I understand cutting back on plate collisions, but this was a terrible rule that isn’t doing the game any good. And Maddon wasn’t happy with it either. He came out and voiced his thoughts to every umpire before being tossed from the game.

That said, Almora’s home run was the last Cubs hit–and that happened in the fourth inning. The Dodgers bullpen was opposite of the Cubs. When Dave Roberts decided to take out Kershaw and go with the pen, it was the right call. Some have criticized Maddon for going to Hector Rondon. Well, who else is he going to go to? John Lackey isn’t a reliever. It’s not easy for him to get up and down. It’s a battle of attrition in the pen that Maddon will have to find a way to get through.

Next: Inside the numbers

The loss was tough to swallow, but it’s just one game. If the Cubs can win tonight, that’s what most of us were really hoping to see. Head back to Chicago with the series tied at one. John Lester goes tonight for the Cubs, and we’re going to need him to come up big. With the state of the bullpen, Maddon has to go with the starters longer. He HAS to.