What a beginning night for the National League Division Series (NLDS) playoffs between the beloved Chicago Cubs and the pesky San Fransisco Giants!
In a classic pitching duel between Cubs’ starter Jon Lester (19-5) and Giants’ starter Johnny Cueto (18-5), the Cubs prevailed in the bottom of the 8th inning, when Javier Baez hit a home run into left field seats. And when Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs’ flame-throwing closer, came on in the top of the 9th and shut down the Giants to preserve the shutout, Wrigley Field erupted into a chorus of triumph. Yes, Cubs win! Hey, Chicago, what do you say?!
I hope you have appreciated my restraint in bragging about this year’s Cubs team. With a potent lineup of young players (except for “grandpa” David Ross!) and a loaded pitching staff, the Cubs and their devoted fans had high hopes for this season. And, indeed, they started strong, faded a bit in mid-summer, but then surged to the finish line, winning a MLB-best 103 games (against only 58 losses) and their Central division by a mere 17.5 games over their heated rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.
With a cautious conscience but a hopeful conviction, Cubs’ fans have been asking, Is this the year?
Perhaps it is. But we have a ways to go, and the competition will be stiff. One game at a time.
But there’s no better way to start the playoffs than with a shutout victory on a late-game home run. Go Cubs, go!
October is baseball at its best. Enjoy. 🙂
Here’s part of last night’s game summary as provided on the MLB website.
CHICAGO — How well are things going for the Cubs? Javier Baez, inserted to the lineup for his defense, provided the offensive spark in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Giants. Baez launched a full-count fastball from Johnny Cueto into the basket rimming the left-field bleachers with one out in the eighth inning to lead the Cubs to a 1-0 victory Friday night at Wrigley Field.
Cueto had followed Madison Bumgarner’s example and thrown 7 1/3 scoreless innings before Baez connected. On Wednesday, Bumgarner shut down the Mets in the NL Wild Card Game, and the Giants arrived riding momentum from that win. However, Jon Lester was ready. The lefty, making his fourth straight trip to the playoffs, served up a leadoff single in the first three innings but kept the Giants at bay. He departed after giving up five hits over eight innings, striking out five. Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.