Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win! Jon Lester picked up the first win in the NLDS vs. the San Francisco Giants throwing an eight inning six hit shutout. Lester also threw five strikeouts and no walks. The only offense on the night came off of the bat of Javier Baez who hit a no-doubt home run in the eighth inning on a full count off of red hot Johnny Cueto. Cueto had no mistakes before this pitch. He gave up only two hits before the home run. Cueto was deep into his pitch count as baez came to bat. Baez was playing this at bat very well and got himself into a full count to raise Cueto’s pitch count. It was obvious to tell Cueto was losing his control and his outing would be over after this inning, but that was even before the smack by Baez. Baez knocked the ball perfectly and landed right into the basket in the left-field bleachers. When the ball came off the bat, it looked like it was headed for Waveland, but the wind knocked the ball down and it almost came back into the field of play.
Baez made the decision easy for Maddon while he was deciding whether to keep Lester in, or put in his 103 mile per hour closer. With Baez snagging the lead, it was a no-brainer to put Aroldis Chapman in to close out the game. Surprisingly, Chapman hasn’t had much playoff experience because he played most of his career with the Reds. This save lead him to his second postseason save in his career.
There were a few scary moments in this game but the scariest one was definitely when Chapman left a slider hanging over the middle of the plate and Buster Posey smacked it into left-center for a two-out double. At this moment, the crowd was silent. The hit looked like it was about to make the game a tie ball game. Luckily, it stayed in the park and there was a sigh of relief for Cubs fans. With Hunter Pence to bat next, Chapman gave him his best stuff and Pence hit a groundball to Javy Baez to close out the game for a 1-0 win, and a 1-0 lead in the series.
With there only being three hits in this Cubs and it being mostly a pitcher’s duel, there are only two key players in tonight’s game. Javy Baez, and Jon Lester. Aside from the home run hit by Javy Baez, he was really the only one who knew how to hit against Cueto as he hit a single earlier in the game. He had a huge game going 2-3 with one important home run and one RBI. Lester is the other key player in the game tonight as he tacked on an impressive eight innings pitched, while only throwing 86 pitches for six hits, no runs, five strikeouts, and no walks.
Coming up on Saturday night will be game two at 7:08 p.m. at Wrigley Field on FS1. The matchup will be Hendricks (16-8 with a MLB leading 2.13 era) taking on number three starter and former Cub, Jeff Samardzija (12-11 with a 3.81 era). I expect this game to be won by the Cubs for them to take a 2-0 series lead, and I expect the offense to be much more involved against Jeff Samardzija than they were against Johnny Cueto. Also, be prepared for a big game from Kyle Hendricks to prove he is worth the NL Cy Young award.
Fly the W proud Chicago, this is going to be special. Lets go Cubs!