Julio Urias gave up four runs in less than four innings and the Cubs broke out of their scoreless slump in a big way to rout the Dodgers and even the best-of-seven NLCS, 2-2. Game 5 is Thursday at Dodger Stadium at 5 p.m.
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts was asked before Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday if there were any circumstances in which he would consider starting ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 5.
“No, no, Kenta,” Roberts said, asserting that right-hander Kenta Maeda would start against the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 on Thursday no matter where the series stood after four games.
Roberts will have to forgive those who are thinking, “Yeah, right.” The day after Kershaw threw 110 pitches over 6 2/3 innings on three days rest in an NL division series Game 4 win over Washington on Oct. 11, Roberts said Kershaw would “absolutely not” be available to pitch in relief in Game 5.
Two days later, Kershaw relieved closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning and notched the save by recording the final two outs of the Dodgers’ 4-3 series-clinching win over the Nationals.
Tuesday night’s 6-0 win over the Cubs, which gave the Dodgers a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven series, gave Roberts the luxury of saving his two best pitchers — Kershaw and Rich Hill — for Games 6 and 7 in Wrigley Field, if necessary.
Kershaw, who missed more than two months of the second half because of a herniated disk in his lower back, would start on an extra day of rest. Hill would start on regular rest.
So Maeda, who is is 0-1 with a 9.00 earned-run average in two post-season starts after going 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA in the regular season, should have a chance to redeem himself Thursday in Dodger Stadium.
Maeda lasted only three innings in his division series Game 3 start against Washington, allowing four earned runs and five hits, including a homer to Anthony Rendon, in an 8-3 loss. He allowed three earned runs and four hits in four innings of an 8-4 loss to the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday.
“It’s going to be an important game for the team, but it’s going to be an important game for myself, too,” Maeda said through an interpreter. “ … In terms of whether I feel satisfied at this point, no, because I haven’t been pitching well.”
Maeda believes he will benefit from his Game 1 start against the Cubs and vowed not to be “too careful” in Game 5.
“This time around, I think I can better imagine how I’m going to get these guys out,” Maeda said. “I remember how each hitter reacted to a certain pitch, so I’m going to base off that when I pitch again [on Thursday].”