What a series. What a series for both the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants. There was so much drama surrounding this series. The even year magic for the Giants. “The Curse” for the Cubs. What a wild ride it was for these two organizations. The Cubbies were able to snap the Giants streak in game four. Each game of the series had its own excitement, as the Cubs slew the Giants in the NLDS.
Cubs Slay Giants in NLDS
Game one went to the Cubs, as they won the pitching duel 1-0. Jon Lester faced off against Johnny Cueto in a game that saw both pitchers throw the ball phenomenally. The teams played a scoreless game up until the eighth inning. Young, rising star Javier Baez came up clutch and crushed a solo home run through the side wind at Wrigley Field to put the Cubs on the board. Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman earned the save.
Lester needed just 86 pitches to power through eight shutout innings. He surrendered just five hits while striking out five. He didn’t allow a walk. He continued his dominance and showed why he deserves a long look for the Cy Young award. The Cubs did well in getting Cueto’s pitch count up. He tossed 118 pitches in his eight innings.
Game two featured more of the same for Chicago as they took this game 5-2. Kyle Hendricks got the start for Chicago and faced off against former Cub Jeff Samardzija. Both pitchers got chased early. Hendricks pitched just 3 1/3 innings, giving up the two Giants runs in the third inning. Shark was just as shaky in his start, as he gave up an early run in the first and three more in the second.
Ben Zobrist struck first for the Cubs, as he drove in a run on a single to right field. The Cubs scored three more in the second. Two came on a base hit by Hendricks and another on a base hit by Kris Bryant. The final run came from yet another pitcher. Travis Wood, who came in to finish the fourth and pitch the fifth, hit a solo shot in the fourth. The Cubs bullpen shut down the Giants for the rest of the game. Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, and Hector Rondon each earned a hold while surrendering just two hits combined through three innings. Chapman again shut the door.
The series got much more interesting in the third edition. On paper, this was the best pitching matchup of the series, as Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta faced off. The Cubs drew first blood first on their second home run from a pitcher in the series, as Arrieta hit a three-run blast in the second. The Giants responded with runs in the third and fifth, making it 3-2. San Francisco then took advantage of a huge Chicago blow up in the eighth, along with spectacular play by Conor Gillaspie, and jumped out to a 5-3 lead. Gillaspie would finish the series with a .400 average, two runs, and three extremely key RBI. Gillaspie came very close to being a Cub killer.
Two of the Cubs more reliable pitchers, Rondon and Chapman, surrendered a run apiece, as Chapman was questionably asked to get a six out save while inheriting runners already on base.
However, a Kris Bryant two-run homer off Sergio Romo tied the game in the top of the ninth and send it to extras. The Cubs and Giants battled through four extra innings until the Giants walked it off in the 13th on a RBI double by Joe Panik. The Giants gained a huge momentum swing heading into game four.
Another amazing game for both teams, as the Cubs would take the series three games to one. This seemed like a must-win game for the Cubs, and was an actual must-win game for the Giants. San Francisco brought huge amounts of momentum into their final home game. John Lackey faced off against Matt Moore. Lackey got chased early, as he got into trouble in almost every inning. He pitched just four innings, and for the second night in a row the game fell into the hands of the Cubs bullpen. Lackey gave up three runs on seven hits. He struck out four and walked two.
Moore, on the other hand, pitched a great game. For most of his outing, it seemed like he would send the series to game five. He threw eight innings, giving up just two runs on two hits. He struck out ten and walked just two. Bruce Bochy decided to pull Moore after eight and handed the ball to his shaky bullpen for the ninth.
Down 5-3, the Cubs needed an amazing inning, on a night they had nothing going offensively, to take the series. That’s exactly what they got. Bryant started the inning with a single, followed by an Anthony Rizzo walk. This brought up Ben Zobrist, representing the tying run. Zobrist doubled down the right field line, scoring one. With runners at second and third, Joe Maddon pinch hit rookie catcher Willson Contreras, who singled, tying the game. Later in the inning, Javy Baez batted with one out and a runner on second, and delivered the go-ahead run on a single up the middle.
Maddon once again summoned Chapman to shut down the Giants, and he redeemed his game three performance. The Cubs came back from a three-run deficit in the ninth to win 6-5 and advance to the NLCS against either the Washington Nationals or the Los Angeles Dodgers.
6-16 (.375), 4 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 5 1B, 1 HR
Baez was a major reason this team won the series. He scored runs and drove in game-winning runs in both game one and game four. He also made several defensive plays that only Gold Glove-caliber players make, including a huge caught-stealing tag in game four.