Series Status: 2-1
W: Ty Blach
L: Mike Montgomery
MVP: Jake Arrieta/Kris Bryant/Mike Montgomery
The Cubs faced off against the Giants in Game 3 of the NLDS as Jake Arrieta took the mound against playoff behemoth Madison Bumgarner. It was a game that had a little bit of everything and it lasted over five hours because both teams gave it everything they had. To the scoring….
With one out in the top of the 2nd, Bumgarner hit Addison Russell in the left elbow and Javier Baez battled before eventually reaching on an infield single. Montero blasted one, but it was right at Hunter Pence for the second out. Then Arrieta stepped to the plate.
You hear a lot about how MadBum and Jake are pitchers who can swing a nice stick, but the expectations have to be lowered when they face each other. Arrieta is the most recent Cy Young award-winner. Bumgarner is the guy you don’t want to face in a playoff matchup. None of that mattered Monday night. Arrieta, possibly in honor of Kyle Schwarber in 2015, went deep in the biggest moment of the Cubs’ season to make it 3-0.
The Cubs dugout exploded, trouncing each other in pure jubilation as Arrieta confidently rounded the bases before joining in on the celebration with his joyous brethren.
Bumgarner was shaken. Dexter Fowler singled and Kris Bryant walked after the Arrieta bomb, but Anthony Rizzo went down swinging to end the inning. Wait, just kidding. Fox Sports 1 cut back from commercial saying Rizzo hadn’t struck out and got a piece of the ball. He grounded out anyway, so whatever. It was weird, but all that mattered was Jake’s home run still counted.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Denard Span hit a double with one out over a leaping Rizzo’s outstretched glove. Belt fouled out to Bryant before Buster Posey put the Giants on the board with a single up the middle to plate Span. Hunter Pence could have tied it with a longball, but just ripped one to the wall and Ben Zobrist caught it in right to end the inning.
Bumgarner’s night was done, but the Giants were just getting started. After a pinch-hitting Eduardo Núñez grounded out, Span tripled to deep right and Belt hit a sac fly to make it 3-2. Posey singled and Justin Grimm started warming up, but Arrieta induced a Pence fly out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 8th, the game turned into a horror movie worthy of Wes Craven, except less campy. Belt reached on a single against Travis Wood, who then gave way to Hector Rondon. Posey took ball four on a three-two count with no outs and Joe Maddon had seen enough — he went to Aroldis Chapman for the six-out save. Pence struck out, but Conor Gillaspie tripled to deep right making it 4-3, Giants. Brandon Crawford singled to make it 5-3 and Joe Panik walked to end Chapman’s night. Grimm got the final two outs and the Cubs were staring their first playoff loss of the season in the face.
In the top of the 9th, Dex worked a walk against Sergio Romo and Bryant showed us why he is going to win the MVP of the National League when he squeaked one over the left field wall in spectacular fashion to tie the game. The Cubs are a total of 10 inches from being down 1-2. Baseball is insane and glorious and a roller coaster of emotions.
In the bottom of the 9th, it was Mike Montgomery time. He got Span to ground out before walking Belt to set the table for Posey, who put a jolt into one that looked like a game-ender. High and deep, it arced toward a safe landing spot in the right field corner. Flying into the picture, Albert Almora, Jr. laid out to snag it in his glove for one of the best defensive plays of the season. Belt was running, as he should have been, and the Cubs doubled him up to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 13th, Crawford led off with a double against Montgomery and Joe Panik did the same off the wall to deep right to end the game.
#PitchersWhoJake. If you are somehow reading this without having watched the game or seen the highlights, go find Arrieta’s home run. Or better yet, here you go. I am not even sure it’s debatable, this is the highlight of the Cubs’ season to this point. A three-run BOMB off the guy who gets labeled as “the greatest playoff pitcher of all time?” I mean, what a moment for this team. Per the broadcast, the Cubs are the first team to have two different pitchers hit a home run in one postseason series since 1924. It was an unreal moment for Arrieta, the Chicago Cubs, and the fans.
Kris Bryant didn’t save the Cubs season, but he almost topped Jake Arrieta for the moment of the year with his top-of-the-9th game-tying boomer. It was barely a home run, but the history books probably won’t mention that it just hit the top of that cartoon car in left. This game had a little bit of everything, and the last-second comeback to force extra innings was special.
Then there’s Mike Montgomery, who pitched four scoreless innings in a phenomenal relief effort. He ended up with the loss, but if not for him the Cubs wouldn’t have had nearly as many chances as they did.
The bottom of the 8th inning was a complete dumpster fire on every level. After Wood walked Belt, Maddon went to Rondon to face the 3-4-5 hitters of the Giants and pulled him after Buster Posey reached. I am a guy sitting on a couch, but using your second best reliever for one batter is unacceptable. Chapman for the long save while Jason Heyward was double-switched for Almora, Jr.
Chapman would record only one out before allowing a triple to folk hero Conor Gillaspie and a single to Brandon Crawford. Bad managerial decisions and poor execution cost the Cubs their late lead.
John Lackey (11-8 3.35 ERA 3.81 FIP) takes on Matt Moore (6-5 4.08 ERA 3.53 FIP with San Fran) Tuesday night at 7:30 CST. The Cubs look to book a trip the NLCS while the Giants look to stave off elimination. It should be a fun one.