We Never Quit
Three solo home runs and a gem from Jake Arrieta lead Cubs to a 3–2 game 4 win.
You will have to excuse me. I have been a Cubs fan for 40 years. I am somewhat conditioned to expect belly flops. Down 3 games to 0 in the NLCS and having scored a total of 4 runs in those 3 games my expectations were not real high. Don’t get me wrong. I am an optimist and I will cheer for the Cubs until the final out. But I was prepared for our season to come to an end last night. There was one glimmer of hope for me however, Jake Arrieta. In big postseason games Jake has taken to the mound and been as good as it gets.
Using 32 pitches the first two innings and striking out 4 of the first 9 Dodgers he faced he looked to be on his game. Although he allowed three base runners in the first two frames he appeared to be wildly effective. His pitches were dancing and his velocity was good. The question was could he keep his pitch count under control and go deep into the game. Something the Cubs desperately needed to have a chance to win and they had been unable to do in the first three games.
Meanwhile Alex Wood seemed to be on cruise control for the Dodgers, mowing down the first 4 he had faced. He struck out Anthony Rizzo to open the 2nd inning. Willson Contreras was next. Wood’s first pitch to Willy was a 90 mph fastball up and away and Contreras did not miss! The sound off of the bat was as pure as it comes. The baseball was absolutely crushed 491 feet off of the scoreboard in left and the Cubs were up 1–0 just like that. Man was it a thing of beauty.
Addison Russell was the second out of the inning after striking out. Javy Baez was next. El Mago up to this point was 0 for everything at the plate in the postseason. With a 1–1 count Wood threw Javy an 83 mph slider down and in but Baez went down and got it. It resulted in a solo shot, Baez’z first postseason hit, and the Cubbies led 2–0.
Cody Bellinger closed the gap to 2–1 in the top of the 3rd, hitting a rope to right that bounced off of the ribbon board above the basket.
The score remained 2–1 until the bottom of the 5th inning. With one out Alex Wood made Baez look bad on his first pitch, an 83 mph breaker in the dirt. Pitch 2 was an 84 mph change-up down that Javy went down and golfed out and into the left-field bleachers. The lead was now 3–1 for the Cubs.
The Dodgers bullpen kept the game within reach as they held the score at 3–1 into the 7th. In the top half of the 7th Arrieta walked Yasmani Grandal on a 4 pitch walk. Chase Utley was next and in an 8 pitch at bat Jake struck out Utley on pitch 101 of the night for Arrieta. With one out Joc Pederson hit a swinging bunt right in front of the plate. Contreras pounced and fired to second. The throw was wide left and the Cubs could only get the force out. The throw pulled Addi towards third and he wisely hung on to it. On pitch 107 Jake threw a wild pitch and Pederson moved to second. On pitch 111 Chris Taylor worked a full count walk. The tying runs were now aboard for the lefty Cody Bellinger. Arrieta’s night was done.
Arrieta was nothing short of brilliant in a game when his team needed him desperately. 111 pitches, 6.2 innings, 3 hits, 5 walks, 9 strike outs, and 1 run. He gave way to lefty Brian Duensing and left to a roaring standing ovation. On Duensing’s 2nd pitch, Bellinger popped to shallow left and the Cubs held serve.
Maddon’s hope for a strong outing by Arrieta and a lead for his boys late had been realized. After Brian Duensing got the Cubs out of the 7th the next objective would be a six out save from Wade Davis. His last appearance was a seven out game 5 gut check against the Nationals the sent the Cubs to the NLCS.
The first Dodger “The Machine” would face was of course none other than Justin Turner. The red-bearded hero from game 2 and the Cubs kryptonite. On a 3–1 pitch at the top of the zone Turner went up and smashed it out to left. Just like that it was 3–2.
Then things got crazy. Yasiel Puig worked a walk. 12 pitches into the eighth nobody was out and Andre Ethier stepped in. He popped a 2–2 pitch foul on the third base side near the railing and Kris Bryant was able to make the catch and hold Puig at 1st. With 1 out Curtis Granderson was next. With a 2–2 count Granderson swung and missed. Jim Wolf called him out. Granderson claimed he had fouled it. Wolf said no. Then Dave Roberts came out of the dugout and requested the umpires confer. They did, without the help of replay, and for some reason the call was changed to a foul tip.
Joe Maddon lost his ever loving mind. He came roaring out of the Cubs dugout and lit into everybody. Pointing at the video board in left, which clearly showed Granderson did not make contact, the umpire crew refused to listen. Eric Cooper, the 3rd base umpire, over-ruled Wolf and Mike Winters tossed Maddon who made up his mind he was going to get thrown out defending his team. Justice was served on a bad verdict when Davis struck out Granderson on the next pitch.
“After talking with the crew (I was told) the ball did not necessarily bounce, but it hit the ground the same time as (it hit) the mitt,” Wolf said. “After hearing that, then I heard two distinct separate sounds. And after hearing from the crew that the ball did not bounce — it did hit the ground but it did not bounce — I basically talked myself into ‘He did foul tip it.’ … And after looking at it, I was dead wrong. I talked myself into the whole thing.” — Jim Wolf, home plate umpire
“That can’t happen,” Maddon said. “The process was horrible. To have that changed, and if Granderson hits the next pitch out, I might come running out of the clubhouse in my jockstrap. That was really that bad. So you can’t permit that to happen. The process was wrong.” — Joe Maddon
After a drama-filled, high tension 8th inning in which Davis threw 34 pitches and stranded two Dodger base runners the score remained 3–2.
The Cubs were unable to add on in the bottom half of the inning and Davis went back to work in the ninth. Davis struck out Austin Barnes on three pitches to open the ninth. Chris Taylor worked a full count walk. With one out it brought the potential series ending run to the plate in Cody Bellinger and with Justin Turner looming in the hole. On a 2–1 count and pitch 48 of the night Wade Davis induced a hard grounder to Baez at second who started a 4–6–3 game ending double play. The reigning world champions would live to fight one more day!
If that was the last time we saw Jake Arrieta pitch at Wrigley Field it was a heck of a curtain call. Vintage 2015 Jake, the Cy Young winning Arrieta tossed his mates on his back one more time and with an assist from Davis, carried his boys to victory!
Game 5 starts at 7:00 CST and will feature a rematch of game 1 southpaws Clayton Kershaw and Jose Quintana.
Doug Preszler is the type of person who can be a Cubs fan and an Iowa fan while living in South Dakota. He is a man who cares not for regional loyalty. He can be found on Twitter here, telling tales of the Dakotan Cubs fan’s existence.