The Cubs Can Win Tonight, and We’ll Leave It There for Now, and Other Bullets

Maybe it’s self preservation, but I find myself settling into an in-between zone today: I know that the Cubs coming back to win this series is highly unlikely at this point, but I also know that it is possible. So I’m just going to rest right there – protecting myself from the worst of the downside, but also recognizing that something special might happen. Then, once this all resolves one way or another, I can really settle into my feelings, whatever they are at that time. The vibe I’m picking up is that most fans are doing the same thing today.

  • Speaking of which, I often find the “one game at a time” thing to be a tired sports cliche not worth repeating, but it really feels appropriate right now. Thinking about the Cubs winning three in a row is daunting; winning tonight with Jon Lester on the mound sounds very doable. If the Cubs do win tonight, then they get to go back to Cleveland and give it a shot. Who knows, right?
  • Tonight’s starter Jon Lester had a mixed outing in Game One, with command issues early, but he ultimately struck out 7 in 5.2 innings, allowing 3 earned runs on 3 walks and 6 hits. If you remember, the first inning was kind of flukey, and accounted for two of those runs. That is to say, there is reason to believe Lester can perform well against this Indians team.
  • On the other side, the Cubs worked Trevor Bauer really well in Game Two – in fact, he was probably the only starter in this series that the Cubs really ground down in the way to which we’ve become accustomed from this offense – and then also worked the Indians bullpen that night, too. Hopefully they can do the same tonight, get a lead, and let the killer part of the Indians bullpen get a night off.
  • The Cubs were swept at home just once this season – that awful Cardinals series back in June, which kicked off the pre-All-Star-break horror stretch.
  • Joe Maddon’s post-game interview transcript is here.
  • Six of the 46 teams to go down 3-1 in the World Series have come back to win it (Cubs.com), which is about 13%. The odds have the Cubs at 15% to 17%, which sounds about right, given that they’re probably slightly better than the average World Series team throughout baseball history. As I type that, I realize what a kick in the nuts that is: this Cubs team is “probably slightly better than the average World Series team” and yet here they are on the verge of elimination. This is baseball.
  • There’s a hint of meatball in thinking this way, but I keep wondering when the Cubs have their “Ben Zobrist bunt” moment in this series.
  • One of the few nice moments from last night’s game: Dexter Fowler homered off of Andrew Miller, which was the first run he’s given up all postseason.
  • It probably felt like this to you, but here’s the grim number:
  • Similarly, based on underlying offensive performance from the regular season, the Cubs have scored 39.1% fewer runs than you would have expected, the second worst in World Series history (ESPN). Kind of amazing – horrifying? soul-crushing? – to think that if the Cubs had simply scored the runs they were expected to score, they probably win one of the three they’ve lost, and the series is 2-2, not 3-1. This is what it looks like when slumps come together at the worst possible time (and when players start pressing at the plate).
  • Tonight’s game, the finale at Wrigley Field:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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