It’s Not Magic, It’s Cubs’ Baseball: 9th Inning Rally Earns Cubs the Series

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It’s Not Magic, It’s Cubs’ Baseball: 9th Inning Rally Earns Cubs the Series

Photo courtesy of AP

Photo courtesy of AP

Photo courtesy of AP

Photo courtesy of AP

Joe Thomas

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Over the course of the 2015-2016 season you could notice a vivid trend in the Cubs. Some games they would score double digit run totals while other games would be render them being held to one or two runs, but there is one unique characteristic about the Cubs that no other team has. No matter how many runs the Cubs may be down in a given game heading into the late innings they always give themselves a credible chance. In game 4 of the NLDS, the Cubs were trailing late in the game and yet again did the seemingly impossible.

Yesterday’s pitching matchup was between Matt Moore of the Giants and John Lackey of the Cubs, who has the most postseason starts out of any active player in the league today. One of the pitchers was attacked early while the other stayed cool and collected, pitching a solid 8 innings.

At the beginning of the game in the bottom of the first, Denard Span started the Giants off with a double. The following two batters hit deep fly balls into the outfield, which allowed Span to easily tag up to third and eventually reach home. It was not until the third when the Cubs answered with a David Ross solo home run to left center field to even the game up at one run apiece.

In the 4th the Giants run party was officially in session. In the bottom half of the inning, the Giants got the bases loaded for their pitcher Matt Moore. After Moore fell down in the count early, he got a hittable pitch from Lackey that he poked into right field which scored a run to put the Giants back on top. Following the pitcher RBI, Denard Span grounded out, which plated a run as well. The Giants were up 3-1 going into the fifth.

In the 5th the Giants still weren’t done. After a sac-fly in the top of the 5th by David Ross, which scored Javier Baez, the Giants went back to business. Just like what happened to Lackey, Justin Grimm, the Cubs first relief pitcher, got pounded by hits. Maddon decided not to take the risk with Grimm continuing in the inning so he looked to Travis Wood for some help. Wood tried, but couldn’t get the Cubs out of the jam that they were in. Hunter Pence trotted home off a Conor Gillaspie single followed by a Joe Panik sacrifice fly that scored Brandon Crawford. By the end of the 5th the score was 5-2. At the time, the Cubs looked completely dead.

Matt Moore took his game all the way into the 8th. He only let up 2 runs to the league’s best team and, on top of that, he fanned 10 Cub hitters. The Cubs rarely were able to move runners into scoring position during his outing.

Going into the ninth, the Cubs just didn’t seem to be full of much confidence or potential. The last time that they had scored was in the 5th and Matt Moore had completely shut down the Cubs bats and electrified the Giants’ faithful. Bruce Bochy turned to the Giants bullpen to get the final three outs of the game to send the series back to Chicago for a pivotal game 5. With a three run lead it was pretty safe to say that the Giants could easily close the game out; of course, if they were playing any other team but the Cubs. The Giants bullpen had some issues in the past during the regular season as the bullpen was a large part of the reason why the Giants were 29-42 after the All-Star break. Now it was laid on them to send the series back to Chicago.

The first 9th inning pitcher for the Giants was Derek Law. With a large grin on his face when he hit the mound he was ready to close out the Cubs. That is, until Kris Bryant singled, resulting in Bochy pulling him from the game. Contestant number two was Javier Lopez. Lopez only got one batter as well, Anthony Rizzo.  Lopez walked Rizzo on a 3-2 count. Just like that it was the day for him. Following Javier Lopez was the Giants true closer, Sergio Romo. Ben Zobrist stepped up to the batter’s box with a 3-1 count and cranked one down the right field line that rolled all the way to the wall. Zobrist reached safely to second on a double while Bryant scored and Rizzo advanced to third.

Before Bruce Bochy decided to do another pitching change, Joe Maddon strategically replaced Addison Russell with Chris Coughlan to make the depiction to Bruce Bochy that the Cubs would be bringing up a left handed batter to the plate. With that Bochy brought in left hander Will Smith to face on what he thought would be Chris Coughlan. At the last second, however, Maddon replaced Coghlan with Wilson Contreras, the right handed batter to set up the matchup Joe Maddon wanted the Cubs to be in. Of course, Joe Maddon’s masterful plan worked. Contreras sent a ground ball right up the middle that trickled into outfield easily scoring Rizzo and Zobrist. All of a sudden the game that many doubted the Cubs would be able to comeback in was tied at 5.

With only one out, the Cubs still weren’t done. Next up was Javier Baez. The game 1 hero who throughout the series has been putting on a show both offensively and defensively went down early in the count 0-2. With Jason Heyward at second all Baez needed to do was single. The pitcher at the time, Hunter Strickland, threw a 100mph fastball right down the middle that Baez slung out to centerfield. The ball dropped as a base hit, completing the Cubs comeback. From high hopes of going back to Chicago, the Giants and the AT&T Park faithful all of a sudden found themselves down 6-5 with only one chance left in the bottom of the ninth. They had to be successful off Aroldis Chapman one more time to keep their season alive.

After Monday’s blown save, Chapman corrected himself. The final three batters for the Giants went down like flies. Every single one of them struck out. For the second straight year the Cubs are heading on to the NLCS in hopes of making it to the biggest stage in baseball.

3 wins completed, 8 more to go. The Cubs vs. Giants series is the first NLDS series to finish up. The other NLDS series is the Nationals vs. Dodgers, a series all tied up at 2 as they play a do-or-die game 5 Thursday night in are nation’s capital. The winner of that game will come to Chicago Saturday for game one of the NLCS.

Pitching matchups have not been announced yet although it is likely Jon Lester will get the start for game one for the Cubs.

This concludes The Forest Scout’s coverage on the NLDS. As expected, The Forest Scout will continue to supply post game wrap-ups during the NLCS and then hopefully into the World Series if the Cubs can get that far. Be sure to read the upcoming articles as the road to the World Series becomes more and more intense. If you enjoyed watching the NLDS, get ready, the NLCS will be even more exciting and intense.