After making all the right moves in the NL Division Series, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ decision to leave in Joe Blanton quickly backfired in the Championship Series opener.
Adrian Gonzalez had just tied the score with a two-run, two-out single in the eighth inning on one of the 100 mph-plus darts from Chicago Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman.
But Blanton gave up a tiebreaking slam to Miguel Montero in the bottom half and another home run to Dexter Fowler on the following pitch, dooming the Los Angeles Dodgers to an 8-4 loss against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.
Blanton relieved to start the eighth and gave up Ben Zobrist’s leadoff double. Addison Russell grounded to third, and Roberts had Blanton intentionally walk left-handed hitting Jason Heyward to bring up righty Javier Baez against the right-handed Blanton.
“You got to walk Heyward with the open base,” Roberts said.
Baez flied to right, and lefty swinging Chris Coghlan hit for righty David Ross, and Roberts decided to intentionally walk him to load the bases — bringing up Chapman’s spot in the batting order.
“Obviously I’m looking at the card and I see Chapman’s still in the game,” Roberts said. “It’s hard to love the matchups against Chapman, anyway.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon responded by sending up Montero, who fouled off a slider and swung past another. Blanton came back with yet another slider on the 0-2 pitch, and Montero drove it 402 feet, about halfway up the right-field bleachers.
Montero took a curtain call, and the crowd was still roaring when Fowler sent a hanging curveball 362 feet to right.
“I trust Joe, I’ve trusted him all year long, he’s been great for us,” Roberts said. “Left a pitch up. … It just didn’t work out.”