Author’s Note: I will be updating this repeatedly before and during the game to cover everything that I think is relevant to Game 3.
PREGAME: I don’t like the fact that the Cubs lost on Saturday night. Not one bit. Gun to my head I’d prefer to be up 2-0 than tied at 1-1 but HEY THAT’S JUST ME. I don’t work in professional baseball. I just write about it sometimes on a recovering smut blog turned world superpower news site. In other words, I don’t get paid to make decisions for the Cubs. That job belongs to Joe Maddon.
So let’s talk about it for a second while we wait, endlessly, for Game 3 to start.
Joe Maddon should have gone to Wade Davis with 1 out in the 8th and Bryce Harper up. He should have double-barreled the top of the 8th with Wade slated to face Bryce. The only way CJ should have faced Bryce Harper in the 8th inning would have been if he retired both Adam Lind and Trea Turner.
As we know, CJ did not retire Adam Lind. He reached on a single and then Trea Turner struckout. The Cubs were up 3-1 with literally one of MLB’s best relievers sitting in the bullpen in his jacket chewing sunflower seeds. Davis should have been the one to go through Bryce, Rendon, Murphy and Zimmerman.
Think about it: do you want your best pitcher against their best hitters in their last AB of the game? Or is he better served against their bottom half of the lineup just because it’s the 9th inning and not the 8th? I don’t know.
What I know is that I want MY BEST vs. THEIR BEST, like for example when a 2-0 NLDS lead is on the line. Like work hard for me one time Joe and think outside the box. He could have gone to Wade after the Harper bomb too because, arguably, the next two outs were significant to get back in the dugout 3-3. Could we have used Wade then?
It doesn’t matter folks because we know how it all ended up. Losses are going to happen but I want to make clear that the Wade Davis not pitching is the top of my list for game 2. Not CJ. Not Monty. Not Ryan Zimmerman’s routine flyball that got carried out on Air Force 1 to left. It’s about Wade Davis collecting dust.
MOVING FORWARD, there will be no more mention of game 2’s heartbreak. And that’s because I follow a simple rule in life: if it doesn’t matter to Rizzo, it doesn’t matter to me.
ROLL THE TAPE
We got a lot of baseball left in the tank. So let’s get to it.
PREGAME 2: I know I already posted the lineup but I’m doing it twice because I spent a fair amount of time complaining already. So here’s the lineup again and some of you are scratching your heads:
Why is Ben Zobrist still in this thing?
Where is Ian Happ?
Where is Javy?
All valid questions which can be answered as follows: Righties hit .136/.187/.237 against Scherzer. Lefties hit .215/.299/.392. So you have to go with as many lefties as possible. And realistically, we’re playing for 2-3 runs so you need to keep Russell and Heyward in the lineup for defensive purposes. It’s not ideal, but this is what you have to do against Scherzer. Ian Happ would get his lunch eaten. Javy would see nothing but plus-plus sliders on the outer 25% of the plate. We know how that goes. At least Zobrist is patient and smart enough to understand how Scherzer is trying to get him out. I think that’s the ultimate take away.
For now, just hope that Bryant and Rizzo stay hot. If the Cubs win this series, it will be because of them. We’ve already seen it in Games 1 and 2. It’s just a matter of repeating that success at home, and hoping we can get some momentum on Scherzer early. The Cubs have been in the drivers seat this entire series save for the last 5 outs. I am not scared at all.
PREGAME 3 (11:30): I am going to the game (thanks Big Cat!) and will be texting in updates to Chief throughout the game. Send questions to me on twitter @barstoolcarl and I’ll post some of them here too.
PREGAME 4 (12:30): Zobrist vs. La Stella is coming up in the comment section already and for good reason. Why not play LaStella? He’s 3-6 career against Scherzer in as many plate appearances, and that’s tied for 9th most PA’s for TLS against any MLB pitcher. So it’s not a huge sample size to us, but relative to TLS himself he has to feel pretty comfortable with his body of work against Scherzer. There’s only 18 pitchers he has seen more in his 4 year career of 755 plate appearances.
In the same respect, Zobrist has 226 career plate appearances in October. Zobrist is .250/.317/.392 in those plate appearances. TLS has 11 where he has put up a .000/.000/.000 slash. In a 1-1 series against MLB’s best right handed pitcher, I have to imagine Zobrist’s experience is the final trump card. I agree that TLS is the better match-up against Scherzer on its face. But mix in the environment, circumstances and experience and you can understand why Maddon prefers Z. That said, TLS could and easily should be the first bat off the bench to face Scherzer with RISP. I also think TLS’s value there (which I compare relative to all available bench options across MLB) to be quite high.
Also, I can say comfortably that Ben Zobrist is not nervous, pressing, or mentally unstable in any respect about the fact that he’s about to be playing in a 1-1 Game 3 at home. He doesn’t care about the first two games of this season and he has officially moved on. That’s his character and make-up. I am a little soft on how bad he’s looked… and actually confused with some of his pitch selection (swinging at first pitch of first two at bats in game 1)… but I think if there’s one guy not named Rizzo or Bryant who can go have a 3 hit day against Scherzer, it’s Zobrist.
Finally, and based on what I saw in games 1 & 2, I think Javy would struggle big time against Scherzer. Javy on Scherzer is a matchup nightmare. I don’t want to get into it because that means negatively talking about Javy hours before a big game, but just trust that Scherzer is pretty much the worst pitcher Javy could face. He will likely be pinch hitting as soon as Scherzer comes out though. Hopefully that is in the earlier part of the game.
Nats – atmosphere is absolutely electric. Almost too electric standing and clapping with Harper down 1-2 in the count. We want Q in control and so far his delivery looks very patient and smooth. That’s a good sign because he gets in trouble when he overthrows. So far so good.
Cubs – hard contact will be hard to come by tonight especially from righties. Scherzer looks dialed in and rightfully so. Rizzo got the crowd on its feet but that’s nothing more than a routine soft liner to left center. Even so probably the hardest contact we’ll find for a little bit.
Nats – Q lights out right now with the fastball command. The change up will be the equalizer as he’s shown with righties so far. I’m a 9.32 on a scale of 1-10 for Q. He is sailing his sinker and two seamer a bit but that’s because he hasn’t pitched in a long long time. Again, so far so good.
Cubs – no surprises. Scherzer is nasty and we are seeing why. Z has a clean swing but overall it’s going to take a few more of those to get on the board. Also, Schwarber almost burned the city to the ground with a foul ball. This place is ready to explode.
Nats – spin zone = it’s a good thing Q put Michael Taylor on and it’s a good thing Zobrist made an error because the Cubs jump through the meat of the Nats order without trouble which sets the Nats back an inning if they get no traction in the 4th. I know that’s confusing but just read it a couple times and maybe that helps. Point is you guarantee Murphy and Zimmerman at bats in the 4th without any damage in the table. That’s a good recipe to get through the lineup twice without giving up runs.
Cubs – we are in trouble and need Q to pitch his ass of for the next 3 innings at the least to win this game
Nats – Massive shut down inning from Q. Especially after giving the Nats a big opportunity in the 3rd. I would have LOVED a 1-2-3 inning but all things considered I can’t complain. I just wish we could count on Matt Wieters leading off next inning because I think he stinks and yes I know he just hit a piss rod he still stinks.
Cubs – Scherzer is FUMING after he drills Jon Jay. Fwiw I started the inning with a rally dip. It’s me and Dave the guy who runs/owns Declans and we’re convinced that the baseball gods love Grizzly mint longcut. Allegedly.
Anyways, KB softly flies out to leave Jay on first with one out. Rizzo brings the crowd to his feat with his second different walk out song in as many at bats. That might be my only criticism about his game – several walkouts is a Reggie Jackson move. Not to be that guy but I want Rizzo to show me this postseason that he can alternate walkouts for the rest of his career. Please show me Rizzo.
As I type that (into my shattered iPhone 6 in section 242 no less) Rizzo grounds into a presumed 4-6-3 until Trea Turner airmails it off the Reynolds Foil Wrap tarp parked on the 1st base line. Rizzo takes second because of course he does.
Contreras walks but Zobrist bounces out weekly to end the thread. First time Nats have been in trouble and Scherzer is still no hitting
Btw rally dips are explosive right now. Jump on board so we can make a big collective push when we need it. LETS FUCKING GO. Please.
Nats – no blood. Great.
Cubs – barf
Nats – Schwarber drops a routine flyball because if we are being honest he is a dog shit left fielder. Suck off if you dissent. No surprise it comes back to bite us in the ass. The real surprise is that Joe Maddon put Strop in for Q with 2 outs in the 6th meaning that Q leaves the game after giving up 2 hits striking out 7 in 5.2 innings. To remind you Q is the frontline starter we mortgaged the rest of our farm system on to be on the mound in this situation. And when Joe Maddon has done nothing but undermanage this far we find him over managing here. Mind blowing shit. I would be a lot more mad if I wasn’t in public. Shout out section 242.
Cubs – Jon Jay annihilated a ball to center but michael Taylor made a nice play. Bryant walks but Rizzo hits a tailor mad 6-3 dp. Cubs down 1-0 going into the 7th and I want to explode.
Nats – Matt Wieters stinks and Dusty makes the same mistake as Maddon: he let his pitcher hit then took him out in the next half inning with less than 2 outs. Baffling stuff really. Cubs get out 1-0.
Cubs – Ben Zobrist had a little chat with The Big Man in the on-deck circle and is rewarded with a 1 out double to left center. Everyone agrees iniformly that it makes sense he started. Dusty fucks it up by taking out Max Scherzer so Sammy Solis can face Kyle Schwarber. Maddon (CORRECTLY) responds with Albert Almora to pinch hit. The young superstar in the making laces a 1 out single up the middle scoring Zobrist making it a 1-1 game. The crowd literally erupted into padamonoum. Shout out section 242 for being the loudest.
In other news, Heyward singled off Solis following Almora to put runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out. Dusty makes another mound visit bringing in sinker baller Brandon Kintzler to face Addison. This has historically been Addisons spot in his young career.
I take a break in this live blog moment to say I’ve had a rally dip in the entire time and my gums can’t handle this action. Not being a hardo. Not being a pussy. Just talking game inside the game.
As I type that Jason Hayward runs the Cubs out of the inning. The master of baserunning fucks us on the bases. We need to bounce back though because winning a World Series means overcoming shit like this.
On to the 8th 1-1.
Nats – Joe Maddon goes to CJ Edwards in the 8th and we all lose our minds in Section 242. Then CJ throws a clean 8th and we lose it even more. The only person yelling louder than me is CJ as he leaves the field. I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, Carls stick together provided that we aren’t hanging belt high cement mixing curveballs. Just a hypothetical not rehashing anything.
Cubs – TLS draws a walk, then Leonys pinch runs for him. Jay bunts Leonys to second which is exactly what we want: RISP, tie game, bottom 8 with Bryzzo getting a look at the go ahead run. What remains to be seen is why Dusty took Brandon Kintzler out for Oliver Perez (honestly mad respect to him for still snaking a big league job for this long just remarkable shit. I’m sure he’s effective and blah blah blah but come one Washington. Be our nations capital one time and do better than Oliver fucking Perez in a big moment. And as i type it Rizzo bloops one for the lead.
Take your rally dips out folks. It’s time for wade. 2-1 Cubs.
Wade shuts the door and its time to party. Get loaded. Be happy. Enjoy the moment. The Cubs are in the driver seat. This is what it’s all about. The superstars were the superstars and now it’s time to reflect over a dozen beverages of your choice. Go nuts.