Happy Halloween, my friends! Can I tell you how much happier this Halloween is for me given that the Cubs are still playing? Not only is that a first in my life, but it is also something that was very much in the balance last night. Sure, I still would have enjoyed seeing my kiddos in their costumes and doing the trick or treating thing, but boy would have been stewing in sadness below the surface.
We’ll have more later on a few specifics from last night’s game, including Aroldis Chapman’s impressive feat and Javy Baez’s struggles at the plate, so if you don’t see those things below, now you know why …
- As I mentioned in the Enhanced Box Score last night, Joe Maddon has been heavily scrutinized – and often criticized – for his decisions in this postseason, but, by and large, I don’t really see it myself. One that I did see, however, was the decision to pull Jon Lester last night after just 6 innings and 90 pitches in exchange for the opportunities (1) to bat Miguel Montero with two outs and the bases empty instead of David Ross, (2) to have Willson Contreras enter the game and bat leadoff the next inning, and (3) to have Carl Edwards Jr. face Mike Napoli instead of Lester. Now that I lay it all out like that, the decision looks a lot more defensible.
- And it becomes even more defensible when you learn what Lester said in the dugout – telling pitching coach Chris Bosio after the top of the sixth inning that he was “grinding” the previous couple innings – and after the game (CSN): “Why let me go out and face a guy — if I give up a hit or a walk or whatever, you’re going to pull me anyway, and now you put [the bullpen] in a situation. So I left it up to Joe [Maddon], and Joe made a decision, and that was the decision. I’m happy it worked out for us.” Against that backdrop, didn’t Maddon obviously make the right decision to pull Lester? And this is why I rarely leap to criticize too aggressively in the moment – when these close decisions are made by the manager, he’s always operating with more information than we fans have at the time.
- Maddon’s post-game interview is here, by the way.
- Lester should now be available to pitch in relief, if necessary, in either of Games Six or Seven.
- I should probably take a moment to emphasize just how huge that Kris Bryant home run was in the 4th inning last night. The solo shot tied the game at one, and the Cubs added two more than inning. If Bryant doesn’t homer, who knows what happens in that inning and thereafter? Maybe the Indians carry that 1-0 lead for another inning or two, and then their bullpen lines up to once again shut the Cubs down?
- Something we’ll have to discuss more in-depth when the World Series is over: Dave Martinez is reportedly a candidate for the Rockies’ managerial vacancy. As Joe Maddon’s bench coach, and a former candidate for the Cubs’ managerial gig himself, this will come up every offseason for Martinez, at least until he finally gets a managerial job.
- David Ross’s time is winding down, and he played his finale at Wrigley Field last night – with the Seventh Inning Stretch dedicated to him by Eddie Vedder. It was a great one, with a sac fly that gave the Cubs what proved to be the winning run, and another typically solid night behind the plate. Thoughts from Ross and Jon Lester after the game here at CSN.
- Also on Ross, and freaking awesome:
— Teresa Reid (@tmo2471217) October 31, 2016
- David Schoenfield wonders if Maddon and Indians manager Terry Francona are polishing up their Hall of Fame resumes.
- A reminder that you can get all of your official Cubs gear at Fanatics, and doing so via the links at BN supports this here site in the process.
- Andre Dawson was at last night’s game, and when he was shown in the stands by Fox, his effort to avoid the cold made for a very obvious and very specific meme-ing opportunity:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) October 31, 2016