The Chicago Cubs grand slam from Miguel Montero shows there is no quit in the 2016 version. Everyone on this team has a role to play in this run.
This is a different Chicago Cubs team, even from last year’s NLCS’s squad. Last year, the Cubs never had a lead in a game. In this one, it led 3-1 until things got crazy in the wild eighth inning. Two pitches stood out for me in this first game of a series that could go long.
The first pitch was the one that resulted in the last out in the top of the eighth inning. Aroldis Chapman got Yasmani Grandal to ground out to end the top of the eighth inning when the Dodgers tied up the game at 3-3. Chapman came on in relief with the bases loaded and no one out and got the first two outs via the strikeout, but he could not get Adrian Gonzalez who hit a single up the middle and scored two runs.
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That hit seemed to stun the Wrigley Field faithful, and you got the feeling that Chapman was all alone on the mound. Now, he had to get the third out without further damage. He did when he retired Grandal who hit a ground-out. At least the score was tied going to the last half of the eighth inning.
This is not the Cubs team of old. There doesn’t appear to be any quit in this team. Faced with having to score a run, Ben Zobrist led off the inning with a double. That was a good sign.
In a game with managerial minds turning, it came down to catcher Miguel Montero, sent out to pinch-hit for Chapman. Hector Rondon was warming up in the bullpen and was ready to get the call. Now, Dodger reliever Joe Blanton was in a jam.
The bases were loaded and full of Cubs. Blanton jumped out to a 0-2 count on Miggy. Then, the pitch of the game, a slider that didn’t slide, a pitch that Montero could drive. Drive it he did, all the way to the right field bleachers for a grand slam, which sent the throng at Wrigley into an ecstatic state. Now it was a 7-3 Cubs lead.
Montero was derided by Cubs fans for most of the year. In fact, CSN-TV in Chicago did a segment on fan’s tweets sent to Montero while he was in a batting slump. The fans were not charitable and some urged him to take a permanent seat on the bench. Wonder what those tweeters are saying now?
“Montero’s the man!” or “Way to go Miggy!” He’s the man for the moment, and in Cubs history, this home run is quite a moment. Perhaps this win is all the more important because Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to start on Sunday night. When he is on his game, he is virtually impossible to beat. In the playoffs until this year, he has been off his game.
For now, Montero is the talk of the town… and mention goes to Dexter Fowler for his two great catches in center field and his home run to cap off the eighth inning. Javier Baez stole home in this game, to add to his growing accomplishments in these playoffs. This is a different Cubs team. They don’t quit and find ways to win.
This team gives Chicago some hope.