Powell at the Park: NLCS Game 2 Notebook

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

A grounds crew prepare the field for baseball's National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field, Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, in Chicago. The Chicago Cubs host Game 1 of the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

By Kevin Powell

WRIGLEY FIELD —  “I can’t be more proud of our group. Everyone contributed once again,” manager Joe Maddon said after the Cubs, 8-4, Game 1 win. It was yet another example of the depth and power this team has after Miguel Montero sent Wrigley Field into pandemonium, hitting the go-ahead grand slam in the 8th inning. But taking a commanding 2-0 lead won’t be easy.

“The big thing with Kershaw is that if he’s on top of his game, man, it just is what it is,” Maddon said before Game 2 on the North Side. “You never anticipate scoring a lot of runs (against him).”

PITCHING MATCHUP

Clayton Kershaw had another dominant year with LA. He went 12-4 and had a career low 1.69 ERA, but didn’t hit the innings mark to qualify for the ERA crown. That honor goes to Cubs Game 2 start Kyle Hendricks who went 16-8 with a 2.13 ERA.

All the talk has been how to beat Kershaw. But Hendricks is this year’s leading Cy Young candidate. He’s been consistent and methodically mowed down offenses. Kershaw is coming off short rest and wasn’t all that great in Game 1 of the NLDS, giving up three runs and eight hits in 5 innings.

Of course I’m not dismissing Kershaw’s greatness, it just seems Hendricks has been overshadowed heading into Game 2. And he shouldn’t be.

PREDICTION

With two great pitchers on the mound, defense is at a premium in Game 2. Some fans and critics on social media suggested Maddon give Addison Russell a day off, but he’s sticking with his shortstop despite only having one hit in this postseason.

If Russell’s not in then Baez is likely at short, Ben Zobrist back at second, which means left field would be either Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan. Zobrist is the sure bet in the outfield, and Russell is just too good at shortstop not to be in the lineup. They’ll need the same kind of defensive effort they had in Game 1.

It’s hard to imagine the Dodgers not getting at least one in this series and with Kershaw on the mound, I think this could be the game they do it. Prediction: the series moves to LA tied 1-1.

COVERAGE

The game can be watched on FS1 at 7pm. We’ll have live updates at wgnradio.com throughout the game. Starting at 10p, it’s our TRUE BLUE: PLAYOFF PLUS postgame show on 720AM, wgnradio.com and your WGN Radio app.

Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball  for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720