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The Kings of NL West give Cubs a reality check

A semi healthy Dodgers squad came to Chicago on a business trip and got the job done

Dodgers rookie James Outman is hitting .311 with 7 HRs and 19 RBI (Photo by John L. Alexander/The BIGS Visuals


Coming off of a successful California road trip last week in Los Angeles (2-1) versus the Dodgers and Oakland (3-0) versus the Athletics, the Cubs looked to win their fifth consecutive series as they returned to Wrigley Field for a 7 game home stand starting with 4 against the Dodgers. The 2022 NL West champions had payback on their minds as they took the weekend series 3-1 and showed the Cubs that there are still levels to this game of baseball. It was a coming out party for Dodgers rookie Jams Outman as he left the Friendly Confines 7-17 (.412 AVG.) with 4 HRs and 9 RBI. "I love this place man. The wind, the crowd. It was great," he said as I caught him leaving the Dodgers clubhouse. I let him know he only got to see one side of Wrigley Field weather-wise at the dish and that it's a totally different place during the summer. Outman was called up for 6 days before the trade deadline last season and hit 6-16 (.462 AVG./.563 OBP) with 3 RBI and 6 runs scored in 4 games. Outman credits his early success to his teammates. "Guys are so professional and I'm just learning a lot. The clubhouse has been great. I'm just around great guys," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts echoed Outman's sentiments and said having veteran guys around keeps the younger guys loose and they're able to be themselves. "When you have the proper mix of veteran guys like Mookie (Betts) , Freddie (Freeman) & J-Hey, it's easy to let the clubhouse and the guys police themselves which makes for a much better atmosphere for the young core."

Eugene McIntosh and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pregame (Photo by John L. Alexander/The BIGS Visuals) MLB home run leader Max Muncy (11) hit 3 HR in the series and Mookie Betts started his first career game at shortstop showing just how much of an all-world athlete he is. (We've seen him dunking basketballs, running NFL level receiver routes and bowling numerous 300 games) Muncy and Betts both homered in the Dodgers 7-3 win in the finale. It was a battle of the aces as Cubs starter Marcus Stroman came into Sunday afternoon's game with a 2-1 record and a 0.75 ERA. Dodgers starter and sure bet Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw took the bump for L.A. Kershaw recorded win #201 as a Dodger and is now third all time in wins behind Don Sutton (233) and Don Drysdale (209). Kershaw left with his 202nd win while Stroman suffered his 2nd loss of the season. A 2 run HR from Betts in the top of 3 and back 2 back HRs in the top of 6 from Muncy and J.D. Martinez were the big blows that ended Stroman's afternoon. "It's just baseball. I lost my mechanics a bit. I ended up throwing two bad pitches back to back. Those guys are incredible talents. Max Muncy is very locked in right now. I threw a cutter that didn't do what it was supposed to do and he put a great swing on it. Then J.D. next pitch. So when I characterize my outing, it was my last two pitches that I got out of wack mechanically," he said. Stroman also talked about the Betts home run and the great relationship they have that continues to grow. "Mookie beat me to a sinker. He's a legend himself so it's always a battle with him. I love Mookie man. I truly think he'll be a Hall of Famer. I love the human being that he is off the field and I think he's incredible for this game. I think he's an incredible role model for the youth. He's a friend of mine and I love competing against him because it's a chess game and like I said he's one of the best. We're gonna have a lot more battles and I'm looking forward to all of them." All wasn't lost for Stroman as he recorded his 1000th strikeout. The 33,494 fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation after he fanned Freddie Freeman looking in the top of 3. Stroman tapped his chest in acknowledgment as he soaked in the achievement. "It's amazing you know...especially coming from a sinker baller like me. I'm not someone who punches a lot of guys out so it takes a few more innings to get there but it's just a testament to the longevity and career I've had. Just very thankful for everyone who's been a part of it that's allowed me to go out there every 5 days and help me mentally, physically and emotionally throughout the process."

Marcus Stroman on the mound for his career strikeout #1000, (Photo by John L. Alexander/The BIGS Visuals)

The 12-9 third place NL Central Cubs go into a three game set with the 12-12 third place NL West San Diego Padres starting Tuesday night. This will be the second series for Fernando Tatis Jr. since his returning from an 80 game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. A true test for a Cubs team looking to show that they are capable of competing with the best of the best. The Dodgers won 111 games last season but fell short of a World Series title however they definitely gave the Cubs a reality check and proved that there are no steps to be skipped on the path to being and staying elite.


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