NLDS Game 3: Need some coffee & Game 4 Optimism

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There is no way around this… last night was a disaster. Things did not start that way, but come the eighth inning, the wheels came off.

Jake Arrieta gave the Chicago Cubs a huge lift when he hit a three run homerun off of Madison Bumgarner. Those were the first runs he had given up in the postseason in 24 innings and the first home run he had ever given up to a pitcher, unless I misheard that. The Cubs looked as though they were going to cruise to a victory in game three sweeping the San Francisco Giants. But things did not end that way. Arrieta gave up two runs over his six innings of work and turned things over to the bullpen.

With Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman you had to be feeling good. However, after getting two quick outs, Joe Maddon pulled Strop for Travis Wood in order to face a let handed batter and the seventh inning was over. Moving to the eighth, Wood remained in the game and gave up a hit. Rondon relieved him and walked his first batter and was immediately pulled in favor of Chapman. After striking out his first batter, Chapman gave up a two run triple and then allowed another run to cross the plate. He simply did not have anything working for him last night as the Giants seemed to have him figured out after he saved the first two games.

I love Maddon, but I disagree with how he handled the pitching staff last night, and the bench. The seventh inning, worked great so I have a hard time second guessing Maddon, however I would have had Rondon start the eighth inning even with a lefty bat leading off the inning. He is a pretty good setup man after all. But I digress. After Rondon walked Buster Posey, I would have allowed him to try to get out of the inning, even though there were two on with no outs. Chapman has made his feelings well known about not coming into a clean inning with no one on base. He is simply not comfortable, and that showed last night.

You know what happened. Chapman gave up the lead, Kris Bryant hit a game tying home run in the top of the ninth and Mike Montgomery pitched his ass off to get us deep into extra innings before giving up back to back doubles in the 13th inning for a Cubs loss. He went above and beyond what was expected of him and for that I tip my hat to him, even though he did take the loss.

Maddon told us even before game two began that there would be a game like this, and he pretty much predicted last night.

Here is the thing that you have to consider,” Maddon said before Game 2. “OK, let Chappy warm up and let the inning begin and guys get on base. And now bring him in. Sometimes you have to do that, but you’d like to give a guy a clean moment because if he gets into the process of the game and if he makes a mistake, he can still make up for it with the next hitter.

The difference is the eighth inning. If you bring Chappy in the eighth inning, probably stuff is going to be going on. You’re not going to start him in the eighth inning, but optimal situation you get two outs then you go to him against a lefty so he’s still coming in in a clean moment. You always want to give guys like him a clean moment because they’re not used to coming in to clean it up. And the assumption is ‘Chapman is Chapman — bring him in, he can do it,’ but he’s not used to it. And there’s a different feeling about it. I won’t say I won’t bring him into a dirty inning, but you prefer a clean inning if you can.

Anyway, despite the ending, last night was an amazing game. Unfortunately though, we have to play a game four. But there is good news. The Cubs will be starting John Lackey while the Giants will be starting Matt Moore.

Moore has not exactly been stellar against right handed hitters. He has allowed 20 homers this year against right handed hitters and a batting average of .245 to opposing hitters in 33 games. If you have not seen the Cubs starting lineup tonight, they are fairly right handed tonight with the exceptions of Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward.

Now, lets look at another stat, and that is how well this Cubs team performs after a loss. Bryant has hit .324, Rizzo has hit .316, Heyward .295, Javier Baez .289. This team likes getting payback when they are coming off of a loss.

Put these two statistics together and things look good for a Cubs win tonight. I think Rizzo breaks out tonight and helps push the Cubs to a victory. We will find out in about two hours. I just hope this game does not go until two in the morning.

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