Did we truly just witness the Chicago Cubs win the NLDS in dramatic fashion? We did, and it was beautiful.
What a game! It is the day after and I am still in shock. The Chicago Cubs, down to their last three outs, scored. The strung hits together and scored. They beat the San Francisco Giants, the team that was 10-0 in playoff games when facing elimination, in front of the orange towels swirling in the stands. But they won.
If you watched the entire game, you felt the same emotions as I did. I know this because twitter was all a buzz with posts. Down 5-2 after five innings, it looked bleak. Many fans were already talking about Jon Lester pitching against Johnny Cueto on Thursday. Or, going to bed. I won’t name any names……but you know who you are.
The energy in AT&T park was overwhelming. The Cubs’ offense struggled mightily to hit. Giants’ starter Matt Moore impressively mowed down Chicago’s offense, limiting them to two hits and two runs. He also struck out ten. But, bless his heart (as we say in the south…because that it where I live now), he did not win the game.
It was an epic comeback, but one we should have expected. The Giants blew 30 save opportunities during the 2016 campaign, more than any other team. And, the Cubs sent out Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Ben Zobrist in the top of the inning.
Compounding the issue was Giants Manager Bruce Bochy playing musical relievers in the ninth. Five different pitchers were called upon during the rally. Two never recorded an out. Four runs scored. Cubs won. The “W” flew.
What does that mean now? Well, first off, the Cubs won a playoff road game. In the last two seasons, they 3-3 on the road in playoffs, including the 2015 Wild Card game. In order to move to the World Series, they must win more games in visiting ballparks. Secondly, they won a road game with their best players contributing. The last four runs do not score if Bryant and Rizzo get out. Zobrist does not see pitches in the strike zone if there were not two runners on and no outs. The idea is to get a double play. Zobrist doubled.
Furthermore, the Chicago Cubs won another one-run game. Three of the four games were decided by one run. For the season, Joe Maddon‘s squad was 22-23 in these type of games. They are now 2-1 in one-run games this postseason. And, lastly, they one a one-run game on the road in their final at-bat. Their backs were against the wall. Down three runs, they score four. The crowd was crushed. The Cubs were ecstatic.
This now sets Jon Lester to pitch Game 1 on the NLCS at home and not another NLDS game. And, it will not be versus Max Scherzer or Clayton Kershaw (unless he pitches on four days rest). Advantage to the Cubs.
Many in Cubs nation were ready for the curse to come crushing down on the team. The collapse was coming. We were watching. Blame Bartman, or the goat, or whatever you want. The Cubs won the game. They fought off the collapse. The pressure was not too much for them.