Most of the “remember when” moments that pop into my mind about the 2016 Chicago Cubs season are either ridiculously crazy plays, or unbelievable turning points in unbelievable games. Usually, they feature late and close wins, too.
Today, the one that was tickling my brain as I sat down to type, however, was a rarity, but in a different way – it was a playoff blowout.
Because the teams are typically well-matched, and because the ability to work match-ups is enhanced by the schedule and the urgency, you don’t often see 10-2 blowouts in the playoffs, but that’s what we got this year when the Cubs faced the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS.
The Cubs, having been shut down in back-to-back games by lefties Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, each of whom loomed later in the series, were down 2-1, and things looked ugly. The prospect of having to win three in a row to advance to the World Series threatened, and, as we know, the Cubs save those heroics for the World Series, itself.
The Cubs couldn’t get anything going to start Game 4, and, through three hitless and scoreless innings, they were working on a 21-inning scoreless streak. In the postseason, that may as well be a month.
That’s when Ben Zobrist led things off for the Cubs with a perfectly-placed surprise bunt to give the Cubs their first hit on the night, and kicked off a four-run outburst:
The Cubs went on to add six more runs in the game, including five in the sixth inning:
That was also the game that featured a mini-breakout from Anthony Rizzo (with Matt Szczur’s bat), who also showed off his nice guy chops:
After the rout, the Cubs had tied the series at two, and, of course, went on to win the next two games. That gave them the NLCS crown, and their first pennant in 71 years.
Sure, the NLCS proved to be the prelude to a championship, but it was nearly as historic. And, when I think about the way the series unfolded, I’ll always think “and it started with a bunt.”