LOS ANGELES — Saturday night’s highly-anticipated pitching duel did not disappoint. Both Walker Buehler and Yu Darvish threw seven innings, and put their team in a good position to win. The Cubs only had three hits on the night, but one of them proved to be the difference-maker, as a two-run homer from Anthony Rizzo in the ninth gave his team the 2-1 win.
The ninth inning got off to a shaky start, as Kenley Jansen hit Kris Bryant with the first pitch of the at-bat. “Very uncharacteristic,” Dave Roberts said about Jansen hitting Bryant. With the tying run on base, Rizzo stepped up to the plate representing the go-ahead run. After getting ahead 2-0 in the count, Rizzo hit a 90-mph cutter into the Chicago bullpen, putting the Cubs up a run.
“The way Rizzo is swinging the bat, you really got to make pitches.” Jansen said. “Just a frustrating day today overall. Just got to let it go and be ready for the next one.”
For Jansen, this is the first time in a while we’ve really seen him struggle. Over his last 10 outings, he looked like the Jansen of old, and was throwing his best baseball of the season. He referred to today’s outing as “just being wild”.
“I can’t let this one game bother me and affect the next game,” Jansen said. “We all know what our goal is. Carry our goal, believe in yourself and continue to work hard.”
These things happen, and you can’t expect perfection every outing. Some nights you just don’t have your best stuff, and Dave Roberts knows that. “Kenley has been throwing the ball so well, that’s going to happen unfortunately.”
Prior to the ninth-inning fireworks, both starting pitchers were involved in quite the duel. On the Dodgers side, Walker Buehler threw seven innings of shutout baseball. He struck out six and didn’t issue a walk.
The Cubs had no answer for him through the first half of the game, as he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. With one out, Addison Russell knocked one to right, ending the chance of a no-no. For Buehler, though, he didn’t feel he had “no-hit” stuff tonight. “I never really had the feeling today,” he said. “The cutter slider has been what’s been going for me the past couple weeks, didn’t really have that one the way I wanted tonight. Was able to land the breaking ball and throw a couple of good ones.”
This is Buehler’s third straight start going at least seven innings, and his fifth time this season. “He’s been very good, very consistent,” Roberts said. “The breaking ball and fastball had life.”
On the other side was Darvish, who was making his first start at Dodger Stadium since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. He appeared to be on a mission, and wanted to prove he wasn’t the pitcher that has been cemented into the memories of Dodgers fans. He had arguably his best start as a Chicago Cub, throwing seven innings of one-run ball and striking out 10.
“You got to give credit to him,” Roberts said. “He came in here with a purpose and intent tonight. He kept the ball off the barrel. We didn’t get a lot of good swings off him.”
It’s true. The Dodgers were only able to get two hits off their former teammate. Albeit, they did have one really good swing, a 459-foot home run off the bat of Alex Verdugo. That would be LA’s only run on the night.
“It was cool,” Buehler said on the pitching duel. “Obviously Darvish being back here, we all liked him. He was a good guy it was fun pitching against him for sure.”
WP: Kyle Ryan (2-1), 1⁄3 IP, 1 H
LP: Kenley Jansen (2-2), 1.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 K
SV: Pedro Strop (8), 1.0 IP, 2 K
Home runs: Alex Verdugo (5), Anthony Rizzo (19)
The Dodgers will look for the series win on Sunday, as Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound. First pitch is at 4:05 p.m. PDT as it is the ESPN Sunday Night Game.