Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: Back at Wrigley Field to try to clinch pennant

rkagan
Oct 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (27) connects for a two-run home run in the sixth inning off of Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Joe Blanton (not pictured) in game five of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (27) connects for a two-run home run in the sixth inning off of Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Joe Blanton (not pictured) in game five of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Cubs are on the brink of something magical.  The team needs just one win to win the NLDS and win the National League pennant for the first time since 1945.

The Chicago Cubs take a 3-2 lead into Wrigley Field Saturday night and it will be Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) versus Clayton Kershaw.  The last time the Cubs had a 3-2 lead in an NLCS was in the 2003 NDLS.  Back then a fan named Steve Bartman grabbed a foul ball away from Moises Alou, who was attempting to make a play on the ball and the rest is—all in the past. Yeah, bad stuff happened back then.

But this is a new Cubs team. They are in the process of doing a kind of Feng Shui to the Friendly Confines, to clear out all the bad karma of missed opportunities, of the ’69 Cubs, the ’84 Cubs, the 2003 Cubs, the 2008 Cubs, and last year’s team, the 2015 Cubs.

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This current crop of Cubs faced the challenges in Dodger Stadium and broke a 21 inning scoreless streak. They scored 18 runs in the last two games. Addison Russell was so cold, he was hitting .042 for the series, during his slump, but he hit two key home runs with a man on.  His home run on Thursday gave a Cubs a 3-1 lead in a tight ball game. Now, he is hitting .263 and looks much more comfortable at the plate.

Javier Baez has shown he is a young, rising star. His baseball IQ is “off the charts.” He looks a field general in the infield. He has great range at 2nd base and is learning to be more efficient in his at-bats. He has significantly cut down on a strikeout rate at the plate and has come up with some big hits. On Thursday night, he hit a three-run double to break open game five and give the Cubs an 8-1 lead.

The Cubs are coming back to Wrigley Field and have two chances to win the NLCS. I want to see it to believe it but I am hopeful. Maybe these guys can get to Kershaw and force LA manager Dave Roberts to take him out early. Maybe Jason Heyward can get out his slump too. It just takes a base hit.  The start of game six will feel like a frozen moment. All of the waiting and anticipation comes down to this.  It is Dodgers’ ace Kershaw on the mound and he is used to being in big games.  This is likely the biggest start in young Hendrick’s career. And, it can only help him down the road.

Next: Time to let Steve Bartman live his life

The Cubs are hitting again. And, maybe they can get to Kershaw and force an early departure.

I truly hope the Cubbies get it done.

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