NLCS Game 4: Pre-game Thoughts

NLCS Game 4 just began. Holy cow am I nervous. The season can’t end tonight, can it? It just wouldn’t feel right. I’m wildly excited that Albert Almora is batting leadoff tonight, though I’m surprised zany Joe Maddon didn’t stick Anthony Rizzo at the top of the lineup. He is the greatest leadoff hitter in the history of baseball, after all. Jake will be locked in, he won’t let the Cubs lose without quite the fight. Surges’ blog got me pumped up, so let’s ride. The Cubs have made plenty of history the past few seasons, what’s another piece?

8:12 p.m.

Bend, but don’t break. After a loud first out, Jake stranded a pair with a nasty slider to set down Andre Ethier. Of course the Red Sox were mentioned. Let’s win this one before any wildly improbable scenarios run through our heads. The Cubbies need to put up a crooked number early.

8:20 p.m. 

Alex Wood doesn’t look too rusty after not pitching since September 26th. The Cubs offensive struggles continue in the bottom of the first, but Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant put good wood on the ball. They just happened to hit it right at a Dodger. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle another night of stagnant bats.

8:27 p.m.

Jake Arrieta is dealing. He’s allowed 3 baserunners through the first 2 innings, but has 4 Ks. The crowd is into it. Jake needs to go at least 7 innings tonight. Cubs fans would most likely keep the ball out of the unusually-shaky bullpen’s hands for as long as possible. With how good he’s looked through 2 innings, it feels like a night that Arrieta makes an impact with the bat in his hands. One can only hope.

8:32 p.m.

WWWWIIIILLLLSSSSOOONNNNN! He sure put a charge into that one. Don’t let up, boys. We need more bullpen dances.

8:37 p.m. 

Javier Baez kept from playoff futility by sneaking a dinger around the left field foul pole. If he would’ve gotten out, he would’ve been just the fifth player in playoff baseball history to begin the playoffs 0 for their first 20+ at-bats. Javy’s last 2 postseason hits are both home runs. Alex Wood struck out 3 cubs in the bottom of the second, but solo home runs by Willson Contreras and Javier Baez have breathed life into the ballclub.

8:48 p.m.

The Dodgers answered. Cody Bellinger hit an absolute rocket of a line-drive home run. Every time the Cubs have scored in the series – 6 total runs now – the Dodgers have had an answer. Dig in, folks. If this wasn’t already apparent by the 0-3 hole. The remainder of this game is going to be quite the battle. Luckily Jake minimized the damage. 2-1 going into the bottom of the 3rd inning.

8:55

Alex Wood responds with a pedestrian 3-up, 3-down inning. Time to buckle down and ride this one out. Side note: I hate these late 8:00 starts. We’re all going to be up till nearly midnight.

9:02 p.m. 

That’s an important double play. As I said earlier, bend don’t break! Baserunners are okay as long as they’re wiped clean the next batter. Can the Cubs put some pressure on the Dodgers defense this next frame?

9:12 p.m. 

An unorthodox 1-6-3 end to an uneventful inning for the Cubs. Alex Wood has retired the last 7 Cubs hitters. The bats just haven’t come alive with any sort of consistency this series. I’m confident saying now that 2 runs won’t win this game. The Cubs will need to get runners on and move them over. Look where relying on the long ball has gotten them so far in the playoffs.

9:17 p.m.

Dave Roberts just used his first challenge in an attempt to keep his pitcher on the base paths. Yeah, okay buddy. Surprise – it didn’t work!

9:21 p.m.

Jake Arrieta has thrown back-to-back scoreless innings, and is at 73 pitches through 5 innings. If he keeps this up the Cubs will be in a great spot to win. Insurance runs are needed, and needed badly.

9:28 p.m. 

Yeah, I think we can look past that historically awful beginning to the 2017 playoffs for Javier Baez. 2 solo home runs and a curtain call! Keep hitting, Cubbies. I suppose they can keep relying on the long ball if they keep swinging like this.

9:30 p.m. 

Arrieta got a hit. I thought that might happen.

9:46 p.m. 

First off, I could do without the whole ‘entire stadium stands and claps whenever there’s 2 strikes, regardless of the number of outs’ thing. I get being excited about the game and the importance of every out in the playoffs. What I don’t understand is getting so excited and standing up just to sit down and do it again the very next hitter. Sit down or stay standing! Arrieta has 8 strikeouts. I hope to god Joe Maddon doesn’t pull him too early.

9:58 p.m. 

The Cubs struggles against the Dodgers bullpen continue. Jake + the bullpen is now the winning formula. 2 insurance runs will have to do tonight. We’re in for a tense remainder of the game.

10:13 p.m. 

It’ll be up to the bullpen, and the bats, to close this game out for the Cubs. Jake Arrieta threw a gem. While it wasn’t without its worries or efficient, he went 6 2/3 strong innings. He weathered long at bats from Chase Utley and Chris Taylor (unsuccessfully) to give his boys a chance to close the game out. One out until stretch time, then crunch time. My heart is starting to beat faster.

10:17 p.m. (Congrats on the marriage Gucci Mane) 

If every out is as sketchy as that Jon Jay catch, I’m going to age 5 years in these last 5 frames.

10:26 p.m. 

Javy came within 10 feet of an historic 3 HR performance. Oh well, it’s time to shut the Dodgers down. Whether he starts the inning or not, we’ll see Wade Davis attempt a 1+ inning save. He’s been nails all year. I’m still worried, but Cubs fans have learned to trust Wade Davis – and rightfully so.

10:31 p.m. 

Wade Davis just gave up a moonshot to Justin Turner. I really hoped I wouldn’t come to despise him as much as I do Daniel Murphy. I still don’t, but Turner isn’t making it any easier. Wade should settle in, but I’m praying for a run or two in the bottom of the 8th.

10:45 p.m. 

First the Dodgers are allowed a run on a play where the runner never touched home, and now a strike is overturned into a foul ball. That’s terrible. How does the MLB let that happen? Truly awful. Davis had to strike him out twice for christ’s sake!

10:52 p.m. 

Wade Davis has ice water running through his veins. After giving up a towering blast to the hottest hitter in baseball, he struck out Curtis Granderson (twice) and sent Chase Utley to grab some pine. That inning sure was tumultuous, but the Cubs have the lead going into the bottom of the 8th. Hopefully they can figure out this dang Dodgers bullpen so everyone isn’t so worried about the top of the 9th!

11:03 p.m. 

That Wade Davis at bat was…odd to say the least. I went from asking why in the world he wasn’t bunting – most likely because he was told not to to avoid risking injury. He actually battled, staying alive with 2 strikes. Nothing is easy tonight with Wade Davis!

Albert Almora! The man just performs when it matters. He should be the every day center fielder for years and years to come. It’s easy to forget that he’s just 23 years old. #EveryDayAlbert

11:09 p.m. 

The reigning NL MVP couldn’t capitalize on the Dodgers middle infield blunder. Accordingly, it’ll be up to (hopefully just) Wade Davis to get the last 3 outs. This is for the season. I don’t feel at all confident with the prospect of extra innings.

11:20 p.m. 

CUBS WIN! 4-6-3 to end it. Live to fight another day. All hail Wade Davis. His 2 saves have combined for 13 outs. What a warrior. Javy Baez is no longer broken.

If the Dodgers want to make it to their first World Series in 29 years they’ll have to wait. Jake Arrieta was nails, now it’s Jose Quintana’s turn. The Cubbies beat Clayton Kershaw last year, so why not again?

As I said, 2 runs wasn’t enough to win. Good thing 3 was! The bats didn’t exactly come to life, but the lineup showed promise. NLCS Game 4 is in the books.