NLCS: Chicago Cubs Shift Momentum, Even Series with Offensive Explosion

The Chicago Cubs’ offense exploded for 10 runs on Wednesday evening, shifting the NLCS momentum back in their favor and creating a virtual best-of-three.

The Chicago Cubs entered Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday evening trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers two games to one. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gave the ball to the 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias, who for the first three innings looked like he would continue the trend of pacifying the potent Cubs offense.

Until the fourth inning, that is. After allowing just three base runners in the first three innings on a pair of walks and a fielding error, the Cubs got to Urias in the top of the fourth inning. Willson Contreras would open the scoring for the Cubs with an RBI single to left field, plating Ben Zobrist. Jason Heyward would drive in a run on a ground out before Addison Russell homered to right-center field, scoring Contreras and extending the Cubs lead to 4-0.

The Cubs would go on to score six more times en route to a 10-2 blowout victory over the Dodgers to even the NLCS at two games apiece on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. The NLCS is now virtually a three-game series, with two of the three games taking place at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs offense seems to have woken up in a big way after being blanked in consecutive games by Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, and the Dodgers desperately need to throw away the dismal Game 4 performance where they committed far too many mistakes that gave the Cubs hitters extra bases and outs to work with.

While the series is still very winnable for either side, you would have to say that the Cubs hold the momentum as well as the slight advantage heading into Game 5 tonight in L.A. The Cubs will send Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) and his 0.64 ERA over 14.0 innings pitched this postseason to the hill tonight to oppose Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda (16-11, 3.48 ERA) who is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in seven innings of work this postseason. Advantage Cubs tonight, at least from a starting pitching standpoint.

The Dodgers will likely get one more start out of both Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) who is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA this postseason, and Rich Hill (12-5, 2.12 ERA) who is 1-1 with a 3.76 ERA this postseason, respectively, in Games 6 and 7 of the series when it shifts back to Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Cubs will probably follow suit and send starters Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) who is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in the postseason, and Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 ERA) who is 0-1 as well this postseason out for Games 6 and 7, setting up a pair of rematches from Games 2 and 3 of the series, both of which the Dodger won.

Ultimately, the Dodgers need to steal a victory tonight against John Lester and the Cubs in their final home game of the series, and set themselves up with the opportunity to close the series out in Chicago twice. If the Cubs win tonight, the odds will be largely in their favor to win one of two at home when the series shifts back to Chicago this weekend.

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