Just like that, I’m headed back to Chicago later today for this weekend’s game(s). A big thanks to The Wife, who got the lucky draw in the lottery to allow us to get tickets, but unfortunately she can no longer come with me. Kids are awesome, but they also make coordinating stuff at this stage in your life really tricky. So, then, a double thanks to The Wife for all that she does to allow me to go to these things, even without her. I can’t help but feel a healthy slice of guilt.
My only hope now is that if and when the Cubs win this weekend, the ensuing chaos in Wrigleyville is so profound that I can genuinely tell her, after climbing my way out of the sea of humanity, that it was so crazy that she might not have enjoyed it anyway. Tough sell.
Much more on last night’s win throughout the day today since we now have a long wait until tomorrow night. I also wrote about the Game Six stuff we won’t be discussing this weekend.
One win away …
- Jon Lester was fantastic last night – more on that later – but you wouldn’t know from the broadcast and the Dodgers’ antics, both of which focused almost exclusively on Lester’s well-known inability to throw to first base. Heck, it was the most visible point of discussion before the game even started:
Dodgers Roberts on Lester: "We're going to get huge leads and try to bunt on them and try to get in his psyche a little bit"
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) October 20, 2016
- And for all that talk, the Dodgers bunted a couple times and stole a couple bases. They danced around like mad on the bases, but didn’t really do much of anything. A lot of that remains hard to understand, but I think it’s worth pointing out that a big part of controlling the running game is that Lester is *elite* at getting the ball to the plate quickly, and David Ross is *elite* at getting the ball fired off quickly (FanGraphs). Even when Howie Kendrick basically had a running start from second base on a steal of third (his lead was around 35 feet!), Lester/Ross still nearly took him out, and it took a replay overturn to call him safe.
- You saw Javy Baez come up lame at second base after his bases-clearing double, which filled you with a terrible mix of emotions – it was a huge, basically-game-clinching hit, but then the fear of what could be wrong with Baez. He stayed in the game, though, which, given the situation, strongly suggested he was fine (even if he sure didn’t look fine live). After the game, he reiterated that he was fine, saying that he’d just felt a little something in his ankle when he slowed after turning at second (Tribune). I’d rather have heard that it was a cramp, because ankles can be a little tricky the next day once the adrenaline wears off. But he stayed in the game, he says he’s fine, today is an off-day … no. I’m not going to worry about it. I refuse. More on Baez soon.
- Speaking of Baez, who, together with Addison Russell, is getting a ton of love this postseason for breaking out at such a young age, I just wanted to send some additional love to Willson Contreras, who is hitting .412/.444/.412 this postseason. And, unlike Baez and Russell, Contreras is doing it largely with sporadic playing time and pinch-hit opportunities.
- Oh, also on Baez: he and Anthony Rizzo had a little fun during the game, if you missed it.
- If Jason Heyward isn’t wearing Matt Szczur’s underwear on Saturday, then I just don’t know how to be a manager:
— Ryan McGuffey (@RyanMcGuffey) October 21, 2016
- In all seriousness, good on Matt Szczur for being such a good sport (ESPN) about people acting like his bat and his clothes are more important baseball entities than he is, especially considering how close he was to making the postseason roster. It’s gotta feel good to be there with his teammates and everything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also just a little hard to know that you can’t actually get out there on the field and contribute. Szczur helped the Cubs get to this place, and not because of some underwear.
- Michael with a really interesting find:
Kershaw faced the same team in a short period four times this season. His ERA increased in the second start every time (avg. of +1.64 ERA).
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) October 21, 2016
@Michael_Cerami Giants, Mets, Giants, Nationals (NLDS). It's an extremely small sample, but it's something.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) October 21, 2016
- The Cubs don’t have to beat Clayton Kershaw to win the NLCS – heck, they don’t have to “beat Kershaw” to win the game tomorrow, if they get great pitching and can just put up a run or two at some point – but it’s nice to see at least one trend that favors a good shot.
- With Game Six coming tomorrow, you’ll probably see me link to this a few times, but it’s something I wrote a few years ago, and it is very much on point right now: If It Takes Forever: Mortality, the Chicago Cubs, and a Person Named Steve.
- This is perfect:
The Dodgers game plan tonight pic.twitter.com/dbefo3oa7d
— TheConman (@akaTheConman) October 21, 2016
- There are a lot of reasons for this, but you’d certainly hope it was true:
Sign of the times. In Chicago, last night's Cubs game had nearly twice the TV viewership of Bears-Packers. https://t.co/YzwnsrQO9E
— Danny Ecker (@DannyEcker) October 21, 2016