I never gave up, but I always stayed prepared. Just like the Cubs who scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat the Giants 6-5 and go to the NLCS for the second straight season.
When I say I was prepared, I was. Here is what was all set to go in the top of the ninth. I just had to hit “publish” as soon as the Cubs went down in the ninth.
This isn’t to say I didn’t think the Cubs couldn’t come back. I’d seen the Giants bullpen this season. They blew 31 saves this year. I knew they could blow number 32. I just knew that the odds were against it and if the Cubs lost, I wanted to be done with this game as soon as possible.
In the ninth inning, the Cubs mounted the biggest 9th inning comeback in a clinching game in postseason history when they torched the Giants for four runs. Matt Moore, who had been terrific for eight innings (but had thrown 120 pitches), exited in the ninth for Derek Law. Kris Bryant led off with a single. Bruce Bochy went to the mound and called for Javier Lopez. Lopez walked Anthony Rizzo. Bochy went to the mound again and called for closer Sergio Romo. Romo gave up a double down the right field line to Ben Zobrist. Now the tying run was on second with no outs. Bochy went to the mound.
He dug a hole and hid in it. Actually, he called on Will Smith. Joe Maddon called on Willson Contreras to pinch-hit for Chris Coghlan, who was pinch-hitting for Addison Russell. Contreras tied the game up with a two-run single up the middle. Jason Heyward bunted. It was a bad bunt, but the Giants threw the ball away trying to double up Heyward at first. The go-ahead run was at second base with one out.
Bochy crawled out of his hole and went to the bullpen again. This time it was Hunter Strickland to face Javier Baez. Baez singles to give the Cubs the lead for good.
The Cubs didn’t score again, but Aroldis Chapman came in to pitch the ninth inning. He struck out the side. The Cubs are going to the NLCS.
You can not say enough about Javier Baez in this series. When the rest of the team looked flat, Baez was alive on both offense and defense. I’m not saying the other players weren’t trying, they were. But they weren’t succeeding like Baez who kept the game alive. This series has been Baez’s coming-out party on the national stage. Everyone in baseball knows who he is now. (Conor Gillaspie too, but that’s a different story.)
Now we go on to face the Nationals or Dodgers in the NLCS. This is the fifth time the Cubs have played in the NLCS. They’re 0-4 so far. But that doesn’t mean anything to this team. They’re just four wins away from putting 1945 behind them.
By the way, if you want to know how the rest of the game went, here’s an excerpt of what I wrote before the great comeback.
The game got off to a bad start when Denard Span doubled off of Cubs starter John Lackey. He scored two batters later after two deep fly balls. The Cubs tied it back up in the top of the third when David Ross homered to left field.
The Giants retook the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Lackey loaded the bases with out out, although pitcher Matt Moore was due up. Moore hit a ground ball through the infield for one run. They got another run when the next batter, Span, hit what could have been a double-play ball, but Lackey fell down trying to make the play at first. The Giants tacked on two runs in the fifth when Brandon Crawford hit a two-run home run to right field. Or at least that’s what everyone thought. On further review however, the ball had actually bounced off the top of the wall and back into play for a double. Hunter Pence, who had been on first base, failed to score because he hesitated going around second base. That was the type of break the Cubs needed to capitalize on to win this game. They didn’t. Both runners scored anyway on a Conor Gillaspie single and a Joe Panik sac fly.
The Cubs did get a run in the top of the fifth when Javier Baez, hustling on a routine ground ball to short, made it all the way to third base when the throw got past first baseman Brandon Belt. Baez scored on a Ross sacrifice fly.
I’ve never been so glad to tear up an article. On to the NLCS.