No. 3: San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs, October 7, 2016
Chicago Cubs fans were excited for the 2016 playoffs to start, but also must have been a little nervous heading into Game 1 of the National League Division Series. The team was coming off a dominant regular season in which they won 103 games and easily won their division. This might have been their best chance yet at a title. We would have hated to see it slip away in the first round of the playoffs against the Giants and all their “even year” magic.
That’s where Jon Lester comes in. He was coming off perhaps his best regular season yet and would finish second in NL Cy Young Award voting. Tonight, his task was simple, yet challenging: to outduel Giants ace, Johnny Cueto.
The game lived up to expectations and was as intense as an opening playoff game could be. Cueto shut down the Cubs for seven innings, but Lester matched each zero with one of his own. Finally, after Lester again put a zero up in the top of the eighth, Javier Baez came up to bat in the bottom half and hit a towering blast to left. It felt like the ball was in the air for about ten minutes before it finally landed in the basket, sending the Wrigley Field crowd into a frenzy and giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
Aroldis Chapman relieved Lester in the ninth and did what he was supposed to do: Put a zero on the board to seal the win. The Cubs would eliminate the Giants in four games in this series.