Since assuming management powers of the Chicago Cubs, Joe Maddon has not only brought the franchise an unexpected playoff berth, but he has also brought the Cubs to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003. Surprisingly, the Cubs have not fallen victim to any type of curse, jinx, or bad luck so far in the post-season. The Cubs defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the one game NL Wild Card Series, and then defeated fellow NL Central rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1 in the NLDS.
Game 1: Cardinals’ pitcher John Lackey dominated the Cubs surrendering his first hit in the 6th inning. The Cubs’ offense couldn’t get anything going off Lackey the entire game. Starting for the Cubs was Jon Lester who surrendered just 3 earned runs in 7 ⅓ innings pitched before being pulled after Tommy Pham homered in the 8th. Stephen Piscotty provided insurance for the Cardinals after his 2-run home run in the 8th inning off Pedro Strop which made the game 4-0. The Cardinals bullpen finish off Lackey’s great start and hold the Cubs to no runs. Cardinals win 4-0.
Game 2: Rookie pitcher Kyle Hendricks stepped on the mound for his post-season debut giving up a home run to Matt Carpenter on his first pitch. Hendricks started to ease in as he didn’t give up another run until the 5th inning. The Cubs’ offense erupted for 5 runs in the 2nd inning after a few hits, two sacrifice bunts by Kyle Hendricks and Addison Russell respectively, and a 2-run home run by Jorge Soler. The Cubs put up one more run in the 3rd inning and the Cardinals slap on two with a pair of solo home runs by Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk in the 5th. Cubs win 6-3.
Game 3: In the post-season home opener at Wrigley Field, Jake Arrieta took the mound for the Cubs with Michael Wacha pitching for the Cardinals. The Cubs struck first with a solo home run by rookie Kyle Schwarber in the 2nd inning. The Cardinals put their first runs on the board in the 4th inning with a Jhonny Peralta double and a Tommy Pham ground out RBI making the score 2-1 Cardinals. The Cubs quickly struck back in the bottom half of the 4th inning as Castro had a solo home run to even the game at two runs a piece. The Cubs then took the lead in the 5th inning after Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo homered back to back making the score 5-2 Cubs. Jorge Soler and Dexter Fowler each hit home runs in the 6th and 8th innings while Jason Heyward and Stephen Piscotty homered in the 6th and the 9th. Ultimately, the Cubs’ bats were too much for the Cardinals as they set a record for the most home runs (6) in a single post-season game. Cubs win 8-6.
Game 4: In the possible NLDS clinching game, nerves rose in Wrigley Field as Stephen Piscotty hit a 2-run home run off Jason Hammel to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in the first. Nerves eased as Jason Hammel gave himself some run support with an RBI single in the 2nd inning. Following the single, Addison Russell’s rookie replacement Javier Baez hit a go-ahead 3-run home run making the score 4-2 Cubs after two. Both offenses remained silent for the next few innings until the Cardinals tied the game in the 6th after RBI hits by Tony Cruz and Brandon Moss. Anthony Rizzo then hit what would eventually be the game-winning solo home run in the 6th inning. Finally to cap off a series of deep balls, Kyle Schwarber took Kevin Siegrist over the right field scoreboard to make the score 6-4. Cubs win the series 3-1.
The Chicago Cubs will face the winner of Thursday night’s NLDS matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. The NLCS will kick off Saturday, October 17th in either Los Angeles or New York. The Cubs will return to Wrigley Field for game 3 of the NLCS series on October 20th. The Cubs seek to clinch their first MLB World Series berth since 1945.