The Chicago Cubs, who spent the first three games of the NLCS sleep-walking and stumbling over themselves, finally showed a little pulse last night. I’m not saying that was a full-on paddle hit, the kind that brings you all the way back from the dead, but at least they’re going down with a fight. There was no way that they were getting swept in this series and getting bounced at home like that. Willson Contreras made sure of that when he got things started off with this monster shot in the second inning.
That ball got out in a hurry and damn near knocked over the scoreboard in the process. And while he didn’t break the scoreboard, he did break a couple of records. At 491 feet, that was the longest postseason home run in the Statcast era. The ball left the yard in a hurry. Contreras, on the other hand, was in no hurry at all. It took him 30.85 seconds to round the bases. I’d call it the slowest trot of the season, but that wasn’t a trot. That was closer to a shuffle or a saunter… And more than anything else, a nod to Yasiel Puig, who is doing Yasiel Puig things again and the Cubs obviously don’t like it.
And the Cubs weren’t done launching bombs in the second. Enter Javy Baez, hitless in the postseason until he saw a 1-1 curveball from Alex Wood and sent it over the fence.
The Dodgers came back with one in the top of the third, but with the way Jake Arrieta was pitching, that 2-1 lead, which became 3-1, felt like it was a lot, lot bigger. That was a brass performance from Arrieta when the Cubs needed it the most. If he’s not on, they’re breaking out the golf clubs this morning. Instead, they get to take batting practice for another game.
One problem: that game is against Clayton Kershaw. There’s a nice reward. Battle to stay in the series and then you get to face the greatest pitcher of his generation to try to stay in the series again. And you know Kershaw would like nothing better than to be the guy to carry the Dodgers into their first world series in almost 30 years.
The other thing that Cubs fans have to keep in mind is that even though the Dodgers lost last night for the first time in the postseason, they didn’t implode. They kept grinding and spent most of the game one or two swings away from tying it. They kept on working, kept on putting pressure on the Cubs and nearly found a way to rip it in the 8th inning. So that has to made Dodger fans feel good. Oh, and they have Clayton Kershaw going tonight, which is nice.
But another game from the Cubs means we got ourselves another game of Joe Maddon pressers. The guy who dropped the first “dry hump” in postseason history earlier this week was back at it again last night after getting ejected in the 8th inning.
Let me set the stage: Dodgers outfield Curtis Granderson swung and missed at a third strike. Initially he was called out, the Dodgers thought he had fouled it off, and the umpires changed the call to a foul ball, even though replays showed that he didn’t make contact. Joe Maddon lost it in an argument with the umps and was run. And he was right. But what he said afterwards was just plain wrong.
Did Joe Maddon just threaten to run out of the clubhouse in his jock strap? Come on, Joe. You can’t be throwing out mental images like that. That’s going to scar some people for life.
I don’t care how right you are, and umpire Jim Wolf admitted after the game that he blew the call, but I don’t care how right you are as a manager, there’s no way you can run onto the field without pants. Or even talk about it. When you hear that, even Dodger fans had to be relieved that Granderson struck out. And they have to be really hoping that the Dodgers close it out tonight without any drama, because nobody wants to see an angry, pantsless, Joe Maddon.