Lead photo courtesy Gary A. Vasquez—USA Today Sports
What You Need To Know: The Cubs received another solid start from Jon Lester, who allowed only two runs in five innings of work. However, the offense failed to cash in on a number of early opportunities, and the Cubs found themselves trailing 2-1 entering the sixth inning. Their fortunes turned around in the sixth, though, as Javier Baez followed up a pair of RBI singles with a no-doubter grand slam, giving the Cubs a lead they would not relinquish. Baez would end the night 4-for-5, with two home runs, a double and 5 RBI.
Next Level: Chili Davis held a pregame meeting with the Cubs’ hitters before Tuesday night’s game, but whatever the message was, it didn’t appear to be sinking in early on. Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras combined for a pair of ugly strikeouts with runners on second and third to end the first inning, providing yet another example of the Cubs’ frustrating lack of situational hitting.
Through four innings, the Cubs had out-hit the Dodgers 6-1, and had put multiple runners on base three separate times, but still found themselves trailing on the scoreboard 1-0. To that point, they were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, with six runners left on base.
However, in the sixth inning, the Cubs were finally able to capitalize on a scoring chance. After a Yasiel Puig error put runners on second and third with one out, Addison Russell shortened up and hit a groundball to shortstop Kike Hernandez, scoring the runner from third. However, Hernandez hesitated on the throw, allowing Russell to reach on an infield single. Pinch hitter Tommy La Stella struck out for the second out of the inning, but Ben Zobrist came through with an RBI single to put the Cubs ahead 3-2.
Jason Heyward followed with a walk, loading the bases for Baez, who had already homered in his previous at-bat. Dodgers reliever Edward Paredes grooved a first-pitch fastball to Baez, and he didn’t miss it, driving the ball well over the fence in left field for a grand slam and blowing the game wide open.
The Cubs ended the game 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and hopefully the sixth inning is a sign of things to come for the offense. The Cubs rank third in the NL in TAv and fourth in runs scored, while at the same time ranking 12th in batting average with runners in scoring position and last in runners left on base. It’s a frustrating disconnect, but one that hopefully begins to straighten itself out as the season wears on.
Top WPA Play: Baez’s sixth inning grand slam (+.261).
Bottom WPA Play: Austin Barnes’ RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, which gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead (-.145).
Up Next: The Cubs will look to make it two in a row behind Kyle Hendricks on Wednesday night, who will face off against Dodgers lefty Alex Wood.