I don’t want to sow the seeds of hope, only to pull the rug out from under you when it comes time to discuss how still-quite-unlikely it is that the Cubs can come back in this series. So let me be clear: the Dodgers are very good, and need to win only one game out of the next three to move on to the World Series. The smart money is on them.
But, I gotta just say some just sayin’. If the Cubs can survive tonight and send the series back to Los Angeles, I have no doubt that they’ll still feel a bit like they’re playing with house money, having extended the series two more games than folks thought they would after going down 0-3. And the Dodgers, who haven’t been to the World Series in 29 years despite having these overloaded teams, will be in front of their home crowd feeling that pressure. I have no doubt about it.
That doesn’t mean the Cubs would win both of those games. But I’d like the feel of it. To get there, though, they’ve gotta win tonight.
- And doing that means overcoming another date with Clayton Kershaw tonight. Javy Baez is unmoved:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 19, 2017
- Kershaw remains the best pitcher on earth, but also has been beatable in the playoffs. He hasn’t been “bad,” despite the popular narrative, but if you can hit him hard when given the opportunity – especially with some dingers – you can beat him. In Game One of the NLCS, the Cubs did hit Kershaw hard enough to create scoring opportunities, they simply couldn’t cash in outside of Albert Almora’s homer.
- As for Kershaw’s perspective before last night’s game, he told ESPN it was a little difficult to prepare for a hypothetical Game Five: “It’s a tough spot for me, just because I have to prepare to start tomorrow. I can’t assume we’re going to win and then it just so happens I have to pitch. I have to expect to pitch and then be surprised when we win …. It’s a tough spot because obviously I believe in our team and I believe that we can win tonight. But I can’t let myself mentally go there. But hopefully – yeah, hopefully it doesn’t work out and I don’t have to pitch. But we’ll see.” Now, far be it from me to suggest that a guy like Kershaw won’t be 100% ready to roll, but I do think the Cubs’ bats might come in with a slightly less tight perspective, because they’re probably going to feel like they’ve got nothing to lose in a series that is still VERY likely to go to the Dodgers.
- *Something something the last time Kershaw faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field late in the NLCS something something.*
- If you get the right angle for a picture, it looks like Willson Contreras is about to literally kick Chase Utley out of the batter’s box:
- After his 48 pitch performance last night, you better believe Wade Davis will not be available tonight. Here’s hoping the bats get to Kershaw and Jose Quintana throws a very long gem. As for who closes if necessary, Maddon wouldn’t say after the game, only noting that the other six guys are “good.”
- It’s crazy when you think about it, but Davis became the first pitcher to record two 2+ inning saves in a single postseason since he himself did it back in 2015 (Kamka).
- And for his 9-pitch at bat against Tony Cingrani, whose bat was Davis using? Kris Bryant’s.
- We’ll see if anything comes of it, but Joe Maddon’s pitching coach on the Rays’ staff, Jim Hickey, is now a free agent (Cubs.com). It’s conceivable the team could try to get him on staff – though not necessarily as the pitching coach, as Chris Bosio has done an excellent job.
- Well, this is a thing:
#Cubs postseason batting average
First 8 games: .172
Tonight (5-29): .172
They won, so whatever
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) October 19, 2017
- That’s why hitting home runs, despite their lack of productivity for the Cubs in Games One through Three, are a good thing. Had three of those five Cubs hits last night not been homers, they probably lose the game.
- I have now seen, experienced, and loved everything:
— Kato Kaelin (@Kato_Kaelin) October 19, 2017
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 19, 2017
- Michael had some fun this morning, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of him:
- This has nothing to do with baseball, but it’s so good and hypnotic that I must share:
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) October 19, 2017
- Deals, deals, deals, timed to align with your positivity (but legitimately good deals):
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) October 19, 2017
- Speaking of good deals, Halloween candy is the Deal of the Day at Amazon, which means it’s time to stock up whether I need it for Halloween or not.