CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs return home in a two-games-to-none hole in the National League Championship Series and with plenty of questions left unanswered after back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Will their struggling offense find a way to recover? What's wrong with a bullpen that yielded late runs in both losses, including surrendering a walk-off, three-run home run Sunday night in Chicago's 4-1 setback in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium?
With time now running short on his team's World Series title defense, Cubs manager Joe Maddon realizes that if his team is going to bounce back, it has to be soon.
Heading into Game 3 on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, Maddon points back to the NL Division Series against the Washington Nationals, when many of the same concerns arose before Chicago found a way to win and advance.
"I obviously wanted to win one out of those two (games in Los Angeles). We didn't. That's reality," Maddon said Monday. "There is reality and there is fantasy. People like to tend to deal with fantasy. It's reality. So we've got to come back here and get ourselves back together."
In need of a win, the Cubs will turn to Kyle Hendricks, who pitched four innings in the NLDS-clinching victory last week over the Nationals. Chicago won both of Hendricks' NLDS starts, but the Cubs will need to find a way to produce some offense after scoring just three runs and collecting only seven hits in the two weekend losses to the Dodgers.
Hendricks is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers, whom he will face for the first time this year on Tuesday night. Despite the Cubs' 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series, Hendricks said Monday he doesn't consider Tuesday a must-win.
"Our team doesn't really approach games like that," Hendricks said. "You hear the way Joe (Maddon) speaks about it. For us, this is just Game 170, I think it's going to be. So, yeah, we're down 2-0. Obviously we know we need to get wins at this point. But approaching it as a must-win is a little extreme. We've just got to go out there and play our brand of baseball."
The Dodgers head into Tuesday still unbeaten in the postseason and confident after Justin Turner's ninth-inning, three-run blast Sunday night. Yu Darvish takes the mound for Los Angeles, having won his lone playoff start to date this year. On Oct. 9 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he allowed one run, two hits and struck out seven over five innings in a 3-1 victory.
Darvish has allowed just two earned runs and struck out 28 in his past four outings dating back to the regular season. The right-hander will make just his second career start against the Cubs, after allowing two runs in 4 1/3 innings during a loss with the Texas Rangers in 2016.
The 31-year-old Japan native hopes to continue the mastery that the Dodgers have had in silencing Chicago's bats in the first two games of the series. But as much as the Cubs have struggled to hit thus far, Darvish realizes he has to be careful with a lineup that possesses plenty of dangerous hitters.
"They've got (a) really good lineup from top to bottom, and they play as a team so there is nobody in that lineup that I can get easy on," Darvish said. "So it's going to be a battle, and I just want to take one pitch at a time, one guy at a time."