Rain puts Chicago Cubs series with Dodgers on hold for a day
No one is putting too much on a couple of series in June, but the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves at an interesting convergence.
Neither team had the start to the season it wanted, but things were far worse for the defending National League champion Dodgers, who started 16-26.
Now, these combatants in the last two NL championship series appear to be on the upswing. They have three games against each other this week at Wrigley Field and four next week at Dodger Stadium.
The games begin Tuesday with a day-night doubleheader following Monday night's rainout after a nearly three-hour delay. Game 1 begins at noon, while the second game is at 7:05 p.m. A power outage also hit the lights atop the first-base side of the ballpark Monday evening.
Julian Green, the Cubs' vice president for communications and community affairs, said after 10 p.m. Monday the team would be working on the lights issue all night Monday into Tuesday.
"We were having issues with the right-field lights this evening, and unfortunately we weren't able to get them fully operational for tonight," Green said. "It appears to be a limited power outage in the ballpark.
"Notwithstanding, we were also dealing with a pretty heavy storm system in the area. … So the combination of the lights as well as the projected forecast of continued rain, we decided to postpone the game."
Green added the Cubs had not gotten "to the root cause of the limited power outage."
On the field, the Cubs and Dodgers were looking to make midseason charges in the standings.
"I think they had a little rougher start than we did, but, yeah, both teams have been on the upswing the last few weeks," said Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer. "I just hope we can continue that upward trajectory. I feel like we've had some good stretches but also we haven't really been able to catch the wave and really play well for a couple weeks in a row where you feel it's crisp -- good starting pitching, good defense, good offense.
"It would be great to start that now."
The Cubs had been more blah than bad, flirting with the .500 mark for the first 20 games of the season. They entered Monday 40-28. The Dodgers righted themselves nicely and went into Monday at 37-33.
Last year, the Dodgers ousted the Cubs in the NLCS and went on to lose the World Series to the Houston Astros. Two years ago, the Cubs eliminated the Dodgers and went on to win the World Series.
Hoyer stopped short of calling these the two best teams in the NL.
"It's not surprising at all what the Dodgers have done," he said. "They had a slow start, but they've been playing great baseball the last three or four weeks. I think it's too early to say that, but certainly over the last three years that's been the case. They probably look at the National League as going through us, and we probably look at it as going through them as it has the last two years."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon's team went into Monday leading the league in ERA as well as being at or near the top in the key offensive categories. But the Cubs still haven't been hitting on all cylinders.
The Dodgers suffered some key injuries, but ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw threw a simulated game Monday afternoon at Wrigley, and he could be back soon.
"You would expect them to get better," Maddon said. "You know they're going to get better after a tough start. Actually, our start this year is a lot better than it was last year, like about 10 or 11 games better. When they get their pitching all in order, heads up. When their guys start hitting like they can, heads up.
"It's going to happen. I hope it doesn't happen over the next week or 10 days, but they are that good and so are we."