Yasmani Grandal's three-run home run in the fourth inning helped break the game open. Justin Turner went deep as well as the Dodgers tagged reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta for four runs in five innings. Lefty Rich Hill allowed two hits in six shutout innings to get the win.
The Dodgers and Cubs will play Game 4 at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night.
Now for some things to know about Game 3 in Los Angeles ...
1. Rich Hill turned in his best postseason start.
Hill's gem in Game 3 (6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 6 SO, 2 BB) came nine years and 12 days after his first postseason start. That start, coincidentally, came with the Cubs, and he allowed three earned in three innings against the Diamondbacks. Hill has made two other starts in these playoffs -- a stinker in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Nationals (four runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings) and a short-rest start in Game 5 against the Nationals in which he was limited to just 2 2/3 frames. Tuesday, though, he came up big against the best offense in the NL against left-handers.
2. At one point, we saw a very 2016 Rich Hill kind of pitch.
The game reached a critical-at-the-time juncture in the top of the sixth. The Dodgers were up 3-0 behind Hill, but the Cubs had Kris Bryant on first with two outs, and Hill had run the count to 3-1 on Anthony Rizzo. The powerful and platoon-advantaged Javier Baez was on deck, and if Hill lost Rizzo he would represent the potential tying run. So what does Hill do in an ideal hitter's count and presumed fastball situation? He snaps off a patented curveball for called strike two.
The curveball, by a notable margin, has the lowest strike percentage of any pitch, so it's an understatement to say it's an unconventional three-ball pitch. The reconstructed Hill is pretty much a two-pitch pitcher -- fastball and curve, each at roughly equal percentages. With three balls this season, Hill has thrown the fastball more than half the time and reduced his curveball usage to below 40 percent. On that 3-1 pitch to Rizzo, though, he unfurled perhaps his best yakker of the night. It was the reborn Rich Hill writ small. On the next pitch, Rizzo, his timing disrupted, swung through a fastball, and Hill had logged his longest start since early September.
3. Jake Arrieta continues to have fourth-inning troubles.
Like a lot of starting pitchers, Arrieta gets significantly worse the third time through the order (see Justin Turner's sixth-inning home run). What's more odd is that he historically has fourth-inning issues. For his career, his OPS allowed in the fourth inning is .756 -- easily his worst mark in any inning. In 2016, his OPS allowed in the fourth inning is .794, again easily his worst mark in any inning. In general, Arrieta sees a decline in performance going from the first time through the order to the second, and some of that decline is being concentrated in the fourth inning for whatever reason. In any event, the fourth was again a trouble spot for Arrieta in Game 3, as he allowed in that frame a two-run home run to Yasmani Grandal that in retrospect put the game out of reach.
4. Corey Seager came to life.
The rookie Seager entered Game 3 with a career postseason line of .152/.188/.326 in 12 playoff games. He ramped up that slash line Tuesday night, though, as he peppered the field with base hits. He singled to left in the first. He singled to right in the third, and he singled to center in the seventh. He's now batting .364 for the series.
5. The Cubs can't score runs.
Yep, the best offense in baseball against left-handers has been blanked by lefty starters plus bullpen help in back-to-back games. That brings us to this note ...
The Cubs have not been shut out in back-to-back games since May 27-28, 2014.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) October 19, 2016
And this note ...
1st time in franchise history Cubs shut out in back-to-back postseason games.— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 19, 2016
And perhaps most ominously ...
Three teams have been shut out in consecutive games of an LCS.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 19, 2016
None went on to win the series. pic.twitter.com/d7jaByNsvr
Part of the problem is that the Cubs over the last two games are 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. Another part of the problem is that the Cubs have put just five runners in scoring position over the last two games.
6. The Cubs aren't accustomed to getting blown out.
The Cubs of course won a whopping 103 games during the regular season and authored an even more impressive plus-252 run differential. As you would expect, a team like that is not accustomed to being on the short end of a lopsided score. In fact, during the regular season the Cubs went 42-13 in games decided by five or more runs. That comes to a winning percentage of .764. In Game 3, though, the Dodgers hung six runs on the Cubs while allowing none. Unusual straits, those.
7. The odds have tilted in the Dodgers' favor.
The Dodgers are now up 2-1 in the NLCS, and WhoWins.com tells us that teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series go on to win that series 71.2 percent of the time. Teams up 2-1 who play Game 3 at home, as the Dodgers did, have gone on to win the series in question 76.1 percent of the time. Right now, it's all coming up Dodgers.
8. At the very least, the Cubs forced Dave Roberts to use Kenley Jansen.
Dexter Fowler's two-out double in the eighth turned out to be a vital one -- not for Game 3, of course, but rather for the remainder of the series. Even though the Dodgers were up 4-0 and needed only one out to escape the eighth, Roberts called upon his lockdown closer. The Dodgers and Cubs don't have a travel day until Friday (if necessary), and that potentially means three straight days of work for Jansen, who threw 21 pitches on Tuesday. The Dodgers of course put two more runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth, but at that point Roberts couldn't lift Jansen and take the chance of a lesser reliever blowing an LCS game against the best team in baseball. Maybe that low-leverage use of Jansen exacts a price later on? Probably not, but it's something to file away.