Fly the W: Cubs crush Dodgers for series win
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Fly the W: Cubs crush Dodgers for series win

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - Although the season is still young, and the Chicago Cubs (6-3) will have plenty of tests along the way, their first massive test happened this weekend. Anytime you go up against the Los Angeles Dodgers (8-4), you know the pressure that comes with it, as they are seen as the cream of the crop when it comes to the MLB.

Already with a winning homestand under their belt, the Cubs were hoping to head out West on a winning note, which would land them 5-1 on this homestand. Mother Nature didn't make it easy for the Cubs, as they endured a lengthy rain delay after taking it to the Dodgers in the early innings. Rain delay or not, this was all Chicago from start to finish as the Cubs destroyed the Dodgers 8-1 to claim the series win.

While the series win was a massive step for the Cubs, it also came as a bittersweet moment for Shota Imanaga as he was the pitcher most affected by the rain delay. Imanaga was dealing in his second straight start as he scattered two hits in four innings while striking out three. Had the rain held off a little bit longer, Imanaga would've gotten another win, but regardless he continues to look good.

Typically, you want your starting pitching to give you around six innings per start, but given how ruthless the Dodgers' offense is, this is not one of those series. Imanaga was well on his way to pitching into the seventh, especially considering the instant offense the Cubs put up against Gavin Stone.

Scoring first hasn't been an issue for the Cubs this season, and should that continue, this team will win a lot of games. Things got rolling for the offense immediately, as Stone had a rough go of things. You could blame the weather for some of that, but pitchers had to deal with the conditions, so it is up to Stone to figure out how to adjust.

What looked to be an out to start the Cubs half of the first was ruled to be a baserunner as replay review overturned the play and awarded Happ via an error. Happ was standing on first with two outs until a two-out Christopher Morel single and the Dansby Swanson walk loaded the bases. Looking to torment his former team again, Michael Busch delivered in the best way possible as his bases-clearing double proved to be the winning hit and put the Cubs in front for good, 3-0.

The Cubs offense continued to make things happen in the second, with Mike Tauchman leading off with a walk before advancing to second on the Miguel Amaya double. With runners on the corners and two outs, Seiya Suzuki continued his great start to the season, as a sacrifice fly gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead.

Imanaga and the Cubs took care of the rest from there, making life difficult for the Dodgers throughout the game. Los Angeles didn't help themselves much either, as a two-out error in the third kept another inning alive, with Tauchman tacking on an RBI double to extend the lead to 5-0. Once the fourth inning rolled around, the skies opened, and the rain really started to come down.

Most felt the game should've been delayed long before it was, but given the situation and how difficult it would be to make this up, they chose to play through it. After Ian Happ led off the bottom of the fourth with a double off new Dodgers pitcher Gus Varland, Suzuki was hit by a pitch, and the Cubs had two runners on with no outs.

Then came a lengthy delay as the grounds crew did what they could to make the field playable again. That only lasted for two batters, as an RBI fielders choice from Morel resulted in a 6-0 lead, but the game was also delayed for nearly two hours. This was the worst situation possible for Imanaga, who would no longer be eligible for the win, but it was also the worst situation for both teams, as they were forced to wait out the delay given they had series beginning in new cities on Monday.

Once the conditions cleared, the Cubs returned to the plate in the same situation that had proceeded before the delay. Dansby Swanson added to the lead with another fielder choice as the Cubs took a 7-0 lead to the fifth with the bullpen coming in.

Yency Almonte was first, as he delivered his best outing of the season, while Mark Leiter Jr worked around a two-out triple from Shohei Otani in the sixth to keep the shutout alive.

The Cubs closed out their scoring in the bottom of the sixth when Cody Bellinger unloaded his second homer of the season to put the Cubs in front 8-0.

That set the stage for Daniel Palencia, who was called on to pitch the remaining three innings. Palencia was added to the roster after it was revealed Julian Merryweather would be missing time with a shoulder injury, as the Cubs bullpen suffered a massive blow.

Palencia was very good for the most part in his outing, as he walked two and struck out two in his three innings, but he was also charged with allowing the only run of the game. That came in the eighth when Mookie Betts worked a two-out walk before racing home on another Otani extra-base hit. However, one run wouldn't be enough to jumpstart the Dodgers offense as the Cubs picked a huge series victory over the Dodgers 8-1.

The Cubs will now embark on one of their two West Coast trips this season as they will play nine games in 10 days out West. That starts with the San Diego Padres on Monday as the Cubs will look to keep their winning ways going.

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