The whiteboard inside the
Two days earlier, fumes from a smoke machine clouded the room and a disco ball refracted a rainbow of light. The Dodgers had cradled this series in their hands, up a game with two to play at
House money lasts only so long. The Dodgers may not play another game in this ballpark until April. After bumbling through Game 4, the group managed another dispiriting performance in Game 5, bequeathing control to the 103-win
“Honestly, these last two nights, we got beat,” Manager
Even before the bullpen collapsed Thursday, the offense failed to dent Cubs starter
His team down two runs in the eighth, Roberts handed the ball to reliever
“They didn’t hit the ball hard, and they scored a bunch of runs, until the double,” first baseman
For the second round in a row, the Dodgers turn to
The pitching matchup Thursday did not favor the Dodgers. Maeda gave up an RBI double to first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the first inning. The spotlight returned to Lester, who survived Game 1 despite allowing a bevy of hard contact. The Dodgers intended to aggravate Lester with their behavior on the bases, capitalizing on his inability to make pickoff throws.
Roberts had vowed to make Lester "uncomfortable." An opportunity presented itself in the first inning when Enrique Hernandez led off with a four-pitch walk. He took a 20-foot lead off first base, hopping up and down, trying to draw Lester's attention.
But Hernandez did not try to steal second base while
"Yeah, the fact that I could have stolen third, maybe Chooch's fly ball could have been a sac fly," Hernandez said. "But that same way, I could have gotten thrown out at third."
The Dodgers found a run in the fourth when Howie Kendrick doubled, stole third and scored on a groundout by Gonzalez. By then, Maeda was already out of the game. Roberts required at least 16 outs from his bullpen. Josh Fields secured two. Grant Dayton picked up another pair. In the sixth, Roberts went with Blanton.
Blanton anchored the bullpen during the regular season. He acted as the most reliable bridge to closer Kenley Jansen. But he has become the goat of this series. He served up a crushing grand slam in the Game 1 loss. Thursday was less brutal, but still debilitating.
After a leadoff single by second baseman Baez, Blanton spotted a first-pitch slider to Russell that nipped the bottom of the strike zone. His next pitch was far more vulnerable. Russell parked the waist-high slider in the center-field pavilion.
"There's periods of the year when everybody gets burned, here or there, on a little slow streak," Blanton said. "I'm in one of those right now. It's not a good time. But every day, I'm trying to go out to make the corrections to fix it for the next day."
The two-run deficit expanded into a flood in the eighth, as Pedro Baez suffered from soft contact and shoddy fielding. The five-run deluge washed away the meaning of the three runs the Dodgers scored in the final two innings.
So much can change in two days. The Dodgers left their park Tuesday in an enviable position. They left on Thursday unsure if they would play at Dodger Stadium again this season.
"It's win or go home, again," Seager said. "Just like last series. We've got to be ready to play."
Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes