I hear it calling outside my window
I feel it in my soul
The stars were burning so bright
The sun was out 'til midnight
I say we lose control
This is gonna be the best day of my life -- American Authors
There are many things I could say or write here, but you know them already. We all feel the same way, we all know what's at stake tonight.
Thus I present to you your Game 6 preview, in the same format I've used all year. It's not "just another game," and yet, it is.
One note about the conditions the Cubs will play in tonight: It will likely be about 54 degrees at game time, and stay in the low 50s most of the game. That's a long way from the near 90-degree heat the teams played in at Dodger Stadium, and it will be the lowest game-time temperature at Wrigley Field since May 15, when it was 48.
Colder weather usually favors pitchers; both teams have to play in it, so it's not an excuse for either, just information. This tidbit might be interesting, though: The Cubs played 17 games this year where the game-time temperature was 55 degrees or below. The Dodgers did not play a single game all season in weather that chilly.
Final note: Today, October 22, is the latest calendar date baseball has ever been played at Wrigley Field, one date later than Game 4 of last year's NLCS. We, of course, hope that record's broken later this month.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist LF, Baez 2B, Contreras C, Russell SS, Almora RF, Hendricks P
Toles LF, Seager SS, Turner 3B, Gonzalez 1B, Reddick RF, Pederson CF, Grandal C, Utley 2B, Kershaw P
This game, as you know, is a pitching rematch of Game 2. Clayton Kershaw was magnificent that night -- seven shutout innings, two hits allowed, in his only start against the Cubs this year.
He is, most probably, the best pitcher on the planet.
But Cubs teams have hit him before, notably at Wrigley Field. On September 19, 2014 they knocked him out of the game after five innings (seven hits, three walks, three runs). The Dodgers won that game, but mainly because Cubs pitching was awful.
On June 22, 2015, the Cubs beat Kershaw 4-2. Kris Bryant and Matt Szczur homered off him. That was one of just two 2015 games in which Kershaw gave up two homers.
So it can be done. No doubt, Kershaw's great. It will not be easy.
Kyle Hendricks was uncharacteristically wild in Game 2. Command and control are his strong points, but he walked four that night, the most he'd walked in a start since June 24. Yet, the only run came on a solo homer (Adrian Gonzalez) and he gave up only two other hits.
In Kyle's other start against the Dodgers in 2016, June 2 at Wrigley Field, he threw eight strong innings, allowing three hits and a walk, and two runs. One of the runs was a solo homer by Trayce Thompson, who isn't on the Dodgers' NLCS roster.
So it would seem that if Kyle can keep the ball in the ballpark, he can compete with Kershaw. You all know that Kyle's been a particular favorite of mine ever since the Cubs acquired him in 2012. I'd love to see him outpitch Kershaw to get the Cubs to the World Series.
Today's game is on FS1. Announcers: Joe Buck, John Smoltz and Ken Rosenthal.
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The 2016 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used at the end of 2015. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).
At the same time, a StoryStream™ containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game's StoryStream™ as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.