Dodgers outfielder James Outman registers his first career grand slam and multi HR game in Dodgers 6-2 win
A 65 minute rain delay (with almost no rain) didn't faze the 32,817 in attendance on a beautiful 70 degree Thursday evening at The Friendly Confines.
It was Jackie Robinson Day and the return of the beloved Jason Heyward (who signed with the Dodgers in the off-season) as Cubs fans were excited to see their team back home after coming off of a 5-1 west coast road in LA versus the Dodgers (2-1) and Oakland versus the Athletics (3-0). Looking to win their fifth consecutive series, the Cubs kicked off a 7 game homestand with the first of four against the Dodgers. A James Outman grand slam in the top of 9 broke a 2-2 tie, emptied the stands early and gave L.A. a 6-2 win.
Cubs starter Jameson Tallion was scheduled to start but was placed on the 15 day IL Thursday with a left groin strain. The 4 year $68 million dollar man was hurt playing catch in Oakland. Javier Assad was called up from AAA Iowa to make his first start of the 2023 season. He was sent back to Iowa to be stretched out as a starter but made only one start before being recalled.
Javier Assad allowed 2 runs on 3 hits in the Cubs loss to the Dodgers (Photo by John L. Alexander/The BIGS Visuals)
Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy wasted no time taking advantage of the spectacular hitting conditions with the wind blowing out as he took a belt high Assad slider into the left field bleachers to give LA an early 1-0 lead.
The Cubs bounced right back in the bottom of 2 as Cody Belinger's solo HR tied the game at 1. Coming off a .360 road trip (9-25) Bellinger has hit safely in 9 of his last 10 games and hit his 2nd HR against his former team.
Dodgers right fielder James Outman joined the HR party in the top of 3 as his solo job put the Dodgers back on top 2-1. The Cubs had a chance to do some damage with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the frame but a Patrick Wisdom fielder's choice ended the threat.
Assad ended his evening after three innings and 62 pitches. "He was on a pitch count. I was trying to get as much out of him as I possibly could. He hadn't been stretched out since he left here enough to go much further than the 60's. I didn't wanna send him back out there. It didn't look like he was his sharpest today and just was laboring pretty hard. We got all we could out of him," said manager David Ross.
Dodgers starter Michael Grove (who pitched into the 6th inning last week in LA against the Cubs) left the game in the bottom of the fourth with a left groin strain after an Eric Hosmer walk and a Trey Mancini double. Nico Hoerner's professional at bat resulted in an RBI single to right field scoring Hosmer to tie the game at 2 but third base coach Willie Harris thought he was sending Rickey Henderson from second base base and not Mancini as he was hosed at the plate by a spectacular throw from Outman.
It remained a tie ballgame into the bottom of 8 as the Cubs had another shot to spoil the Dodgers evening. Seiya Suzuki led off with a walk and Bellinger was hit by a pitch. First and second with no outs...a perfect situation for some old school baseball. Instead of a Patrick Wisdom sacrifice bunt to move the runners, he grounded into a Mookie Betts to Freddie Freeman 6-3 double play & Nick Madrigal's line drive to right field ended all hopes,
Cubs reliever Michael Fulmer entered the game in the top of 9. Back to back singles from David Peralta and Miguel Vargas and a sac fly from Betts left runners on the corners with one out. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pinch hit Heyward for catcher Austin Barnes which set up a perfect scenario for a ground ball and inning ending twin killing. After a nine pitch at bat, Heyward drew a walk to load the bags. Outman stepped up and his 2nd HR of the game...a go ahead grand slam gave the Dodgers a 6-2 lead and that was all she wrote.
Fulmer gave up a walk-off single to Peralta in the Dodgers lone win versus the Cubs in L.A. last weekend and fell victim to Outman less than a week later. "I don't know what's going on but I better figure it out quick," Fulmer said. "Everybody else did their job. It sucks to come in and kind of ruin it there but it just shows I gotta work on some more stuff and figure out what's exactly wrong and go from there. The ball didn't seem like it was spinning right the last couple of times but we'll figure it out."
Drew Smyly (1-1 4.70 ERA) will face Julio Urias (3-1 1.90 ERA) in game 2 of the 4 game set today...first pitch 1:20.
*Cubs hitters rank second in MLB with a .282 avg (178 H in 632 AB)
*The starting rotation is third best in MLB with a 3.05 ERA (32 ER in 94.1 IP)
*Nico Hoerner has reached base safely in a career high16 consecutive games