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Highlights from Cubs’ NLCS Game 4 win over Dodgers

The Dodgers were trying to win a pennant. The Cubs managed to stay alive.

League Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs - Game Four Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Hello, and welcome back to another SB Nation live blog! I will be your Virgil tonight, guiding you through the limitless underworld of the damned that is the Dodgers winning the p...

[editor whispers]

Right, right. Welcome back to the c o m pŀ e te l y i m p a r ṭị a l live blog for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers are up three games to none, and the Cubs have a whole lot of work to do.

We have Alex Wood going for the Dodgers instead of Clayton Kershaw on short rest, which suggests this particular machine is capable of learning. The Cubs will lean on Jake Arrieta to eat some innings and keep the game away from their bullpen, which has been absolutely abysmal.

A Dodgers win sends them to the World Series for the first time since Yasiel Puig was born. A Cubs win extends the series and gets them to the 3-1 deficit they overcame in the 2016 World Series. As always, refresh to get the latest updates (every 10-20 minutes or so, unless I’m bored and looking up restaurant reviews in Los Angeles), and scroll to the bottom if you want to read these in chronological order.

12:17 p.m. ET — Hooooooooooooo, and the Cubs have won. Wade Davis was approaching 50 pitches and SHUT THAT STUPID GO CUBS GO SONG UP, YOU DEMONS, HAVE SOME SELF-RESPECT the tying run was on base, with Cody Bellinger representing the go-ahead run and Justin Turner on deck.

Davis got behind Bellinger, 2-0.

There was a collective, cartoonish gulp from the Wrigley Field crowd.

Bellinger hit a smash.

Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed.

The smash went right to Javier Baez, who had plenty of time to turn a 4-6-3 double play to end the game. The Cubs are still alive, and all it cost was Wade Davis’ mortal soul. What an outing for him, though.

We’ll have baseball on Thursday, and it will be Clayton Kershaw vs. Jon Lester Jose Quintana, with the added wrinkle that Davis will probably be unavailable for a couple days. The Cubs are still alive, though, so they’ll take it.

The Dodgers have a 3-1 lead, you know.

11:58 p.m. ET — There is always room for comedy in a baseball game, even if it’s tense. Wade Davis was up for his first plate appearance since the 2015 World Series, and he made Tony Cingrani work:

That’s ...

  1. Called strike
  2. Called strike
  3. Foul
  4. Foul
  5. Ball
  6. Foul
  7. Foul
  8. Foul
  9. Called strike

The Wrigley crowd was into it, and rightfully so. Albert Almora singled on the next pitch, and I’m almost certain that happened because of the power of dreams that Davis gave his teammates.

The Cubs didn’t score, though, so that theory ... well, it was just a theory, okay?

Here comes Davis, out to protect a one-run lead and the season, with the top of the Dodgers’ order looming. This is a dog drinking coffee as the flames lick around his ears.

11:51 p.m. ET — Wade Davis is out of the eighth and out of trouble, but that smell coming through your windows, well, guess what, that’s Wade Davis’s arm. He’s thrown 34 pitches, and he’s going to come out for the ninth inning to protect a one-run lead.

It’s like that famous quote from Clark Gable in Casablanca: “Hold on to your butts.” This should be something, assuming the Cubs can’t add on.

11:41 p.m. ET — We have controversy! It’s a very dumb controversy, and it might cost the Cubs their season. With one out, Curtis Granderson struck out on a slider. No, wait, there’s more. Granderson was politely adamant that he tipped the pitch, and umpire Jim Wolf disagreed. The replays did not show the ball changing direction, so if it was a tip, it was an atom-shaver.

But for some reason, there was an umpire conference, and the third-base umpire (Eric Cooper) decided that he and he alone was absolutely convinced that the ball hit Granderson’s bat. He might have heard it, and he had a better angle than almost anyone else in the world, but it’s still weird that he could convince the home-plate umpire, who had an even better position.

Joe Maddon came out and swore a lot, and I can’t blame him. He is watching the game from the Cubs’ clubhouse now.

Granderson struck out on the next pitch, which was a slider. No, wait, there’s more. It still cost Davis a bullet, and he’s running out of those, so it wasn’t without cost. It was still so very weird.

Yasmani Grandal walked in the next plate appearance, and the Cubs are really getting after this new identity they’ve constructed. Two on, two outs, and the Dodgers are a double down the line from going to the World Series.

11:31 p.m. ET — Wade Davis is in for a six-out save, and it’s for both the season and the game. The first batter he faced was Justin Turner, who launched a towering, majestic drive into the skies beyond left field. The Dodgers are getting closer, 3-2.

Turner has two walks, a single, and a homer in Game 4. Seems like an off night, but I’m sure reporters will ask him what’s up in the post-game press conference.

The next plate appearance belonged to Yasiel Puig, who took another walk, and threw his bat like he was mad at Abner Doubleday for inventing the walk. I know that’s not who invented baseball, nerds, so don’t email me, but Puig doesn’t have to know, and that’s not the point. He’s on base, and i regret to inform you that the Cubs’ bullpen might be at it again.

11:24 p.m. ET — If the Dodgers advance — heavy, ironic emphasis on the first word, there — we’ll have to talk a lot more about Kenta Maeda’s sudden conversion to a relief god. This isn’t what anyone expected. Except perhaps the Dodgers. Which is why they’re a win away from the World Series, I guess. Anyway, it’s still weird.

Maeda had five career relief appearances before this postseason (one of them in Japan), but he’s pitching like Tommy Kahnle right now. He pitched a clean seventh inning, retiring the side on 10 pitches, nine of them for strikes. That’s four innings, five strikeouts, and zero baserunners. Mercy.

11:11 p.m. ET — Jake Arrieta is done for the night, if this is his final start in a Cubs uniform, it was a memorable one. With two outs, his 111th pitch of the night (a season high) was a walk to Chris Taylor, putting two runners on for either Clay or Cody Bellinger, I still refuse to learn which. That’s a pretty solid reason to go to a lefty-specialist, even if the Cubs’ bullpen has been a rotting carcass for most of this postseason.

Arrieta could have saved the game that saved the season that saved the Cubs’ entirely improbable World Series run. That would be a sweet way to go out. As is, he pitched a fine game, and he won’t have to buy a drink in Chicago for the rest of his life.

On the north side, at least.

Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a pop-up to left field, and the Cubs are still ahead, 3-1, heading into the bottom of the seventh.

10:53 p.m. ET — Here’s a name I haven’t heard in a few days: Anthony Rizzo. He’s 1-for-13 in this NLCS, and he was 0-for-8 in the last two games of the NLCS. The Dodgers brought in Tony Watson to face him, and, well, Rizzo struck out. On a ball that hit him in the thigh.

This is the kind of small-sample chicanery that can happen in the postseason, and it doesn’t mean anything, unless it means everything. Rizzo could be screwed up, or he could be getting exactly the worst possible pitches relative to what he was expecting, over and over again.

On the other hand, he just struck out on a pitch that hit him in the thigh.

Cripes. He’s probably screwed up, and the Cubs are going to need him if they’re going to pull a 2003 Red Sox.

10:40 p.m. ET — Baseball is more fun with Javier Baez. Just the still photos alone!

10:32 p.m. ET — Pitching change time, as Wood couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. The postseason is wild, man. The knockout blow wasn’t Baez’s second home run, but Jake Arrieta getting a broken-bat single to put a runner on with two outs.

Is there a worse way for a starting pitcher to get the hook than having another pitcher knock him out of the game? Perhaps. That’s up there, though.

Ross Stripling threw one pitch to get out of the inning, and now it’s time to see if they’ll play that “Hungry Eyes” commercial again. If you’re going to get it stuck in my head, Madison Avenue, the least you could do is scratch that itch.

10:28 p.m. ET — And we have our first possible wind-aided homer! Javier Baez hit a pitch below the strike zone — a great pitch, really — just over the left-field fence. It wasn’t the prettiest swing. It wasn’t as majestic as his first home run. But he took the curtain call just the same.

After not getting a hit in the first eight games of the postseason, Baez has two dingers. Baseball would be a funny game if it wasn’t constantly going through your silverware drawer for stuff to pawn.

10:24 p.m. ET — Arrieta is at 73 pitches through five innings, which removes the looming spectre of bullpen death from the Cubs’ consciousness for now. The only problem is the Cubs completely forgot how to hit baseballs that stay in the park but aren’t caught, and it’s turned them into a team of 53-year-old Rob Deers. It’s working for now, but they should probably figure Alex Wood out before the bullpen gets warm.

Ah, but Wood has been hyper-economical, to the point where he could reasonably sitting around 90 or 100 pitches by the eighth inning. He hasn’t pitched since September 26, so I’m not sure how long the Dodgers would keep him in for — the fifth or sixth could be his last inning, even. But he’s been effective, other than the 1,000 feet of combined home runs.

We’ll see if the Dodgers bring in Pedro Baez, which is what I’ve been screaming at my TV for them to do for two weeks now.

10:04 p.m. ET — I suppose we should get a definition of “dealing” in Arrieta’s case, and it’s in the Nolan Ryan sense. He’s missing his spots, and it’s not mattering much because his stuff is so lively. It’s lively and filthy, really, like a street urchin after his first cup of coffee.

The score is still 2-1, and we’re already into the fourth inning. I’d suggest that the Cubs have a little momentum, but then the tuba from Jaws starts to play and the bullpen starts getting loose. Arrieta is at 60 pitches through four innings, which means he’s good for seven or eight innings if this rate holds. The Cubs had better hope this rate holds.

10:03 p.m. ET — Jake Arrieta is dealing, and I’d write more about that, but I’m eating a taco, hold on.

9:43 p.m. ET — Now Cody Bellinger has a solo home run to bring the Dodgers closer, 2-1. The baseball’s wife is now a widow, and you can send donations to Anthropomorphic Baseball Wives Coping With Murder in lieu of flowers.

The wind is blowing out of Wrigley Field right now, and it doesn’t matter a bit. These balls are getting absolutely crushed.

9:36 p.m. ET — Javier Baez has a hit! And just to make it official after 23 hitless at-bats in the postseason, he hit it as far as every ball he’s put in play this series combined, roughly. It was a long home run onto Waveland, and the Cubs lead, 2-0.

Get it to the 3-1 series lead. That’s the mantra of every internet-savvy sports team for the next decade. Worry about what happens later.

9:32 p.m. ET — Willson Contreras just hit a home run that went back through time and prevented Alex Wood’s parents from meeting, and now the umpires are huddling to figure out what to do. What a mess.

In the meantime, the Cubs have a 1-0 lead. They have not scored a run that wasn’t on a home run this NLCS, which seems bad.

Holy heck, that home run, though.

If we’re talking “memorable home runs in a series lost by the player’s team,” this one is behind Carlton Fisk and Albert Pujols, but danged if there shouldn’t be some room for it somewhere. Statcast has it at 491 feet, but that might be underselling it.

9:26 p.m. ET — Chase Utley was hit by a pitch in the top of the second, and he made absolutely no effort to get out of the way. It was a breaking ball at his back foot, and his ability to stand very still and let the ball hit him is amazing.

Note that ...

  1. If you don’t make an effort to get out of the way, a batter doesn’t have to be awarded first base, and I’m absolutely fascinated with the history of umpires beginning to ignore this rule
  2. Baseballs hurt, and I admire Utley on several levels

Arrieta got out of the inning by striking out Alex Wood on four pitches, and the important thing is that he hit Utley with a baseball. Some people say that an immaculate inning is when a pitcher strikes out the side on nine pitches. No, I counter. That was an immaculate inning. No runs, no hits, and Chase Utley getting hit with a baseball.

9:15 p.m. ET — I would just like to point out that the Braves, who have the best farm system in baseball, give or take, might trade a bushel of prospects for a starting pitcher this offseason. Except they had Alex Wood, and they traded him for Hector Olivera, whom they eventually traded for Matt Kemp, who is clomping around their outfield right now.

What this live blog presupposes is ... maybe they would have rather kept Wood?

As is, he’s currently giving the Dodgers confidence enough to rest Clayton Kershaw, which could help them win the World Series. He retired the Cubs on 10 pitches, and I, for one, can’t wait to see Game 1 of the Bronze Medal Championship Series, in which the Cubs and Astros play 47 scoreless innings over three days.

9:06 p.m. ET — The TBS broadcast brings up a good point: This might be Jake Arrieta’s final start in a Cubs uniform. It feels like he’s been with the Cubs forever; it feels like he just shed his Orioles chrysalis last week and was free, free, free to be himself for the first time. If this is the last time he graces the blue-and-white pinstripes, it’s been a wild ride.

After a walk to Justin Turner that was just a mess of follicles and sweat, Arrieta allowed a rocket single to Yasiel Puig, who continues to be a postseason marvel. Here, read my feature on him from earlier in the week:

The rally ended when Andre Ethier struck out, and apparently Andre Ethier is hitting fifth, and I’m so mad right now.