2016 NLCS Game 1: Cubs 8, Dodgers 4
October 16, 2016
OK – How many of you thought, when Anthony Rizzo dropped that foul ball in the Dodgers’ eighth: “OH, NO!”
I must admit – I did… briefly. “Shades of Bartman…”
I know the Cubs are going to win the series, but I don’t know how many games it will take. It could be in 4 straight. I could be in seven games. During Game 1, it was possible for the Dodgers to win the first three – like the Yankees did in 2004, before losing four straight to the Red Sox. Thank you, Lord – it’s not going to be that way this year.
Anyway… back to Rizzo’s dropped foul pop… there was one huge difference between 2003 and this year, however: in 2003, Cubs’ pitcher Mark Pryor did NOT get the batter out after the “incident” (where Cubs’ fan Steve Bartman interfered with outfielder Moises Alou on a catchable foul fly ball hit by Florida’s Luis Castillo – he walked, then… 8 runs eventually scored); Arnoldis Chapman DID get the batter out. The 2016 Cubs were stunned when, after the flame-throwing Chapman had struck two batters out, Adrian Gonzalez got a two-run single to tie the game at 3.
But, as my Cub-fan friend Dan pointed out, this Cubs team has a “different aura” (which means a different spirit) to them. The 2003 Cubs just collapsed – that was Game Six; they couldn’t win Game Seven, either. But this year’s Cubs – when the best closer in the game today couldn’t shut the door, they still came back and won the game.
But did you notice something else that I noticed but hasn’t been talked about? Yes, the big blow was Miguel Montero’s slam – obviously – but something happened that ultimately led to that. Remember this: Ben Zobrist led off the bottom of the eighth with a solid double to the right-center field gap. That was HUGE! Because – the Cubs, who seemed to have the game in hand early on, building a 3 – 0 lead, had just lost the lead behind their best reliever. That could have sapped the team’s energy for good. But Zobrist crushed the ball to the wall for a double, giving the Cubs, their fans, and the Dodgers no time to think about what looked like another Cub collapse. It was highly symbolic, as well as being strategically important. It said to the Dodgers, “We’re not backing down! We’re not back on our heels! We’re coming right back to take this game from you!” Before anything else could happen, Zobrist stole the Dodgers’ momentum shift right back to the Cubs. He stuck his finger in their eye, saying, “Oh, yeah? Here’s what we think of YOU guys!”
The crowd, which had a stunned, dazed appearance, were right back into it. That sparked the Cubs to hang in and, even when Dave Roberts made a gutsy strategic move to walk the bases loaded to force the Cubs to pinch hit for Chapman, Montero responded with a magnificent shot.
And – remember that I say that games in which the Lord wants us to see His hand behind the scenes, odd, weird, or unique things happen? Here’s the way the Yahoo Sports article puts it: “We say historic, because according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Montero is the first player to ever hit a pinch-hit go ahead grand slam in a postseason game.”
One more thing: (yes, what NOW, Lieutenant Columbo!) Did you notice what happened? John Smoltz pointed this out as it happened. Joe Blanton (is there a “Three Ex-Phillies Rule?”) could have gotten out of that jam, but he made a really foolish pitch. It’s something Phillies’ pitchers do. He just got Miguel Montero to swing and miss at a slider for strike two. But, as Smotzie correctly pointed out, he got away with a bad pitch – it was a hanging slider. As Richie Ashburn used to say, “He wanted that pitch back,” It was a very hittable pitch that he missed – and he knew it. But what does Blanton do? He should have thought, “Whew! I just got away with making a bad pitch! I had better not do THAT again!’ No- what he apparently thought was: “Wow – he looked bad on that hanging slider! Well, if it worked once, it’ll work again.” And he throws him that same bad pitch that Montero missed, but knew he should have hit.
He hit it – but GOOD – the second time!
This is fun! I agree with Yahoo Sports that said it this way:
The Chicago Cubs won an absolute thriller in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 on Miguel Montero’s historic pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth inning.
Amen to that! Don’t forget, Cub fans – thank the Lord, from whom all blessings flow! I’m nothing but a sign-reader; it is HE who is in control!