"That said, the next game that all could be squelched by a good starting pitching performance on the other side.I am all about starting pitching". "It's an organic situation, and once you start wishing for something, you might get your wish - and it might be something bad".
Nevertheless, until that staggering ninth inning at AT&T Park on Tuesday night - in which Chicago overturned a 5-2 deficit while San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy used five different pitchers to face the Cubs' first five batters - you had to wonder whether they were just going to collapse again. They calmly await the victor for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series Saturday at Wrigley Field. Cubs wanted to make sure Hendricks was healthy before committing to him in Game 2. We are normal, except for our devotion to a franchise that has failed to win a championship 107 straight times.
Last season, the Mets - before their own collection of talented arms couldn't measure up in the World Series - defeated a stacked Cubs rotation. A win today would give the Nats their first-ever playoff series victory in the 12-years of their existence.
Cubs fans everywhere are hoping for a World Series champion for the first time since 1908, and they have a loaded team this time, one the piled up the most wins in the majors this season.
"I keep up", he says.
The Cubs entered that series with a record of 20-6. The NLCS should be the Cubs' to lose. Roberts and Tom Lasorda (1977) are the only rookie managers to lead the club to a division title. They advance to the NLCS (National League Championship Series). Baez, however, made one slick play after another at second base and delivered two of the biggest hits - an eighth-inning homer off Johnny Cueto for the lone run in Game 1 and the go-ahead single in the ninth inning of Game 4. The Nationals' bullpen, too, was differently constructed at that time, not only with Jonathan Papelbon as the closer instead of Mark Melancon, but still with young Felipe Rivero (who gave up five runs in the series). There are people with intimate knowledge of the Nationals who believe what Maddon did that weekend - walking Harper 13 times in 19 plate appearances - impacted Harper for the rest of the year. The game was tied 2-2 going into the eleventh inning when Edwin Encarnacion hit a game walk-off three-run home run. The series is now tied 2-2 going back to Washington. Men, including me, will weep at the corner of Clark and Addison as we exalt in joy while recalling those from previous generations who never got to see it. If the Giants take this evening's game the series will be decided in Chicago Thursday. "Do simple better" is one.
Probably the second most famous malediction in baseball - after the Curse of the Bambino, which afflicted the Boston Red Sox from 1918 to 2004 - was laid on the Cubs by William Sianis, the proprietor of the Billy Goat Tavern, who turned up for game four of the 1945 World Series accompanied by his pet goat, for which he had bought a seat. After the Mets swept the Cubs and their collection of high-end starting talent last October, Chicago has a similar plan against the Dodgers.
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Dodgers: 2B Chase Utley (.252, 14 HRs, 52 RBIs) or Charlie Culberson (.284, 1, 7, in 34 games and 67 ABs), SS Corey Seager (.308, 26, 72), 3B Justin Turner (.275, 27, 90), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.285, 18, 90), RF Josh Reddick (.258, 2, 9 in 47 games with Dodgers;.296, 8, 28 with Oakland) or Yasiel Puig (.263, 11, 45 in 104 games), CF Joc Pederson (.246, 25, 68), C Yasmani Grandal (.228, 27, 72), LF Howie Kendrick (.255, 8, 40) or Andrew Toles (.314, 3, 16 in 47 games).
Indeed, when the Cubs visited Dodger Stadium in late August, Kershaw was still on the disabled list with a back issue.
Chicago was almost pushed to a decisive Game 5 by San Francisco, but the Cubs rallied for four runs in the ninth inning of their series-clinching 6-5 victory on Tuesday night.
What does any of that prove? Hockey-mad Canada can not seem to win a Stanley Cup anymore, but taking the baseball title out of the United States would feel like a good compensation, and at least temporarily soothe the ice rink wounds. We weren't all that heads-up. In the end, we just didn't get it done.
"I have a lot of faith in our guys. Because all the good stuff happened at once".
NOTE Games 1-5 will be shown on Fox Sports 1.