You can question his personality, sometimes his lack of maturity, but Cuban player Yasiel Puig is pure enthusiasm and also a productive contribution in the offense of the Los Angeles Dodgers who beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2 in the first game of the National League Championship Series.
Puig made the difference with Chris Taylor by hitting both homers that were the ones that broke the score in favor of the Dodgers, who have entered the series with the extra motivation to take revenge for the elimination they suffered last year in the same competition .
Taylor broke the tie with a home run in the sixth inning, while Puig added a homerun and an RBI double to his great offensive work, which saw the Dodgers achieve a great victory tonight at their Dodger Stadium field.
Timely and productive batting by the Dodgers made up for a short performance by star starter Clayton Kershaw, who was off the mound.
Shortstop Charlie Culberson doubled, produced the tying run and scored another to replace all-star shortstop Corey Seager for the Dodgers, who are 4-0 so far in the finals after also having 104 wins. in the regular competition of the Old Circuit.
“It feels great,” Culberson said. “Wonderful to have that first win already on the stock market.”
With another team effort on offense and four perfect innings in relief, Los Angeles calmly overcame an early 2-0 deficit and clinched the first game of the series, a replay of the 2016 NL championship series in LA. Chicago won in six games en route to its first World Series title in 108 years.
Game 2 of the series will be played Sunday and Rich Hill will be the Dodgers’ starter against star left-hander Jon Lester for Chicago.
Kershaw pitched five innings of an unquestionable four, but the Los Angeles ace fell 2-0 on the scoreboard before he was replaced by a pinch-hitter during the Dodgers’ cluster with which they tied the game.
After winning 104 games in the regular season and sweeping Arizona in the divisional series, the Dodgers have a batting order and bullpen equipped to handle just about anything.
They showed it by making Kershaw’s tricky postseason start practically irrelevant, just as they did after he conceded four homers in his first game of these 2017 playoffs against the Arizona Diamondbacks last week. .
Cuban-born slugger Albert Almora Junior hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, but the last 18 batters for the tired Cubs failed to make it to the bases, still recovering from a 10-hour flight across the country after beating in Washington to the Nationals last Thursday, in the fifth and decisive game of the Divisional Series (3-2).
Colombian pitcher José Quintana worked five innings in which he gave up two hits a day after his wife, Michel, was removed from the team’s plane in Albuquerque due to a health problem.
But the Dodgers tied him in the fifth inning and went ahead in the sixth with Taylor’s home run that opened the episode against Venezuelan reliever Héctor Rondón (0-1), who lost the game.
Japan’s Kenta Maeda (1-0) got three outs and took the victory.
While the player who made the difference in the offense for the Dodgerws was Puig going 4-2 with two RBIs and one scored.
“It is time to be focused and play the best ball so that the team continues on the path of victory,” said Puig. “My concentration on the game and on the team is complete and I think that makes everything go well.”
Puig left behind the inconsistency with the bat and his motivation within the team makes him infect the rest of his teammates, which is why he has become a permanent support element.
“I have matured and I have a different way of seeing things in the field,” said Puig. “Now I go to the batting plate convinced that if I don’t hit the ball or do things well, in the end my teammates are always there to help me,” said Puig, 26.
“Puig’s timely and powerful hitting came at a time the team needed it most,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Being different teams, we must make the most of our opportunities and that is what we did, something that shows the confidence that exists within the group.”
While Joe Maddon, manager of the Cubs, recognized that the work of the bullpen of the Dodgers was what made the difference in his favor.
“The job they did was flawless and they put our feet back on the ground,” Maddon said. “Now we have to think about the second game and do it with the confidence that we can and we must achieve something positive against a team that once again demonstrated the great moment it is going through with its individual and team play.”