GOT. IT. DONE.
Tonight’s game was all about getting the series back to Cleveland and giving the Cubs a chance to pull this thing out. Mission accomplished.
Jon Lester was solid for six innings, and the Cubs’ bats did just enough to eek out a one-run win. You would have liked to have seen quite a bit more adding on once the Cubs built a 3-1 lead, but they’ve continued to struggle to come through with a big hit in a big moment.
The Cubs did get a homer from Kris Bryant, a well-timed dribbler from Addison Russell, and a good at bat sac fly from David Ross, and that was enough.
Every Joe Maddon decision is understandably scrutinized on this stage, but once again, you could lodge defenses of all of them if you were so inclined. We’ll probably talk about more of them tomorrow.
The closest call (and the one I didn’t care for at the time) was probably the decision to remove Jon Lester after six innings (90 pitches) in favor of a two-out, bases empty pinch hitter. What was strange about it was that the pinch hitter was not for Lester, it was for David Ross – and it was Miguel Montero, even though Willson Contreras wound up coming into the game (later batting in the pitcher spot). It was odd to remove Lester in that situation, and it didn’t really work, as Carl Edwards Jr. gave up a single to Mike Napoli to start the next inning, and Contreras let a pitch get by him to advance Napoli to second. Then Maddon went to Aroldis Chapman, in the 7th, to clean up the mess.
Chapman wound up staying in the game to finish it off from there (including taking an at bat with a runner on base in the 8th inning (he struck out)). It was a huge performance from a guy who has not had a preference for odd appearances like that one. I doubt the Cubs win the game without Chapman.
Now, we get to see a Game Six. We get to see more Kyle Schwarber. And we get to see the Cubs with a chance.