The Chicago Cubs are headed back to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) after beating the Washington Nationals 9-8 on Thursday.
Chicago joined the New York Yankees as road warriors winning decisive game fives. Joe Maddon was forced to stretch his bullpen to the brink in Thursday's marathon of a game, but closer Wade Davis gutted out a seven-out save to secure the win.
Michael A. Taylor did his part for the Nationals, becoming the first player in postseason history to have consecutive games with at least four RBIs, but his towering second-inning home run off Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks was not enough to get the Nats to the NLCS.
The Cubs will now battle the well-rested Los Angeles Dodgers for a chance to make it back to the World Series.
CUBS' MAGIC STILL LINGERS
North Chicago rejoiced last year when the Cubs erased 108 years of longing with a come-from-behind World Series win. They used a mixture of young talent, solid pitching and a heavy dose of Aroldis Chapman to get the job done.
Chapman is gone, so too is leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler, but this Cubs team proved Thursday, on the road, that they still have some magic fairy dust left over from last year.
This Cubs team seem to be missing the same spark and depth as last year, but they have been impressive this season trying to repeat as champions.
MAX SCHERZER SHOULD NOT HAVE PITCHED
The reigning National League (NL) Cy Young award winner did not start until game three due to a nagging hamstring injury. He allowed just one run in 6.1 innings in that start, so it appeared the injury was behind him.
Dusty Baker decided to use Scherzer in relief Thursday, in what became one of the sloppiest innings of the postseason. Scherzer retired Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to start the inning, but he did not record the third out until after the Cubs had scored four runs. The Cubs batted around the order in the inning, scored on a Matt Wieters throwing error and scored a run when Scherzer hit Jon Jay with the bases loaded.
Even if Scherzer had pitched lights out and helped the Nats win the game, he would not have been available early against the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks had just done the same thing with Robbie Ray and it put Arizona behind from the start. Scherzer should have been held out of this game.
ADDISON RUSSELL, WILSON CONTRERAS STEP UP
Russell entered game five with more than twice as many strikeouts (seven) as hits (two) in 14 at-bats this series. But he made up for the slow start with two key hits Thursday.
Russell doubled in the fifth inning off Scherzer, scoring two runs to help the Cubs take the lead. He then doubled again in the sixth inning, scoring Ben Zobrist. Russell ended the day two-for-four with a walk and four RBIs. The Cubs will need him to remain hot against the Dodgers.
Contreras went one-for-three with two walks and two runs scored Thursday after entering the game with two hits in 11 at-bats. Contreras went on a power surge during the second half of the regular season. The Cubs could use some more of that moving forward to support Bryant and Rizzo.
RUSSELL'S CRUCIAL HIT
Russell hit a two-run double off Scherzer.
CUBS AT DODGERS
The Cubs will face the Dodgers in the NLCS. Los Angeles will start Clayton Kershaw in game one on Saturday, as they try to reach the World Series for the first time since 1988.
14 de diciembre 2017
|George has ´closure´ as Pacers continue to rise|
|Rodgers ´not coming back to save´ Packers|
|Angels manager Scioscia has no concerns about Ohtani´s elbow|
|Mirabelli: Donnarumma has to beg Milan if he wants to leave|
|ICC: No evidence to suggest Ashes Test has been corrupted|
|Marsh comes in for Handscomb as England bat first in Perth|
|Bayern lacked verve, says Heynckes|
|Di Maria wants more game time at PSG after goalscoring display|
|Monaco stay unbeaten, Ludwigsburg crush PAOK|
|Fixing allegations ´of serious concern´ to Cricket Australia|
|Gattuso: Donnarumma shaken by abuse from AC Milan fans|
|Pellegrino calls for Southampton reaction|
|Benitez ´needs to know´ extent of Newcastle´s transfer budget|
|Zidane will not request striker signing despite Benzema blanks|
|Bournemouth excellent in Old Trafford loss – Howe|
|Wilshere´s performance ´very positive´, says Wenger|
|Pochettino challenges Spurs to keep top-four berth|
|I´d be in Brazil if the title race was over – Mourinho|
13 de diciembre 2017
|It was hard to watch - Clement wowed by City´s dominance of Swansea|
|Bailly may require surgery on ´serious´ ankle injury|
|Klopp uncertain on Solanke´s disallowed goal|
|Guardiola sure record-breaking City won´t get complacent|
|Puel focuses on Leicester win, not Southampton revenge|
|Strasbourg 2 Paris Saint-Germain 4: Revenge is sweet for Emery´s men|
|Tottenham 2 Brighton and Hove Albion 0: Aurier scores a fluke as Spurs go fourth|
|West Ham 0 Arsenal 0: Wasteful Gunners drop points for third game in a row|
|Liverpool 0 West Brom 0: More frustration for Klopp as hosts draw again|
|Manchester United 1 Bournemouth 0: Lukaku eases scoring concerns after derby day woes|
|AC Milan 3 Verona 0: Bonaventura shines as Gattuso´s side march on|
|Manchester City set new Premier League winning streak|
|Newcastle United 0 Everton 1: Rooney haunts Magpies again|
|Swansea City 0 Manchester City 4: Silva sparkles as Guardiola´s record-breakers march on|
|Southampton 1 Leicester City 4: Puel serves up Saints revenge|
|Bayern Munich 1 Cologne 0: Lewandowski opens nine-point gap in Bundesliga|
|Finn: There was ´way more´ going out during England´s 2010-11 Ashes tour|
|Jaguars formula the key to playoff success for Wentz-less Eagles|
|Mourinho slams Manchester derby penalty decision in programme notes|
|This is my last season at Monaco – Fabinho|
|Bale: Football would be better without VAR|
|Thought Mayweather v McGregor was 2017´s biggest sporting event? Think again!|
|Manchester United´s Gomes pens professional contract|
|Al Jazira 1 Real Madrid 2: Bale spares Spanish blushes at Club World Cup|
|Ronaldo takes goalscoring record from Messi|
|Al Jazira stun Real Madrid to take half-time lead in Club World Cup|
|Neymar returns to PSG after break|
|I just went through my routine – Rohit delighted with latest double hundred|
|Vuelta organiser hopes for quick resolution to Froome investigation|
|Iniesta would welcome Barca pursuit of Coutinho|
|FA extends deadline for Manchester clubs to respond over alleged derby fracas|
|Wigan Warriors confirm Sarginson return|
|Magnificent Rohit doubles up as India hammer Sri Lanka|
|Dybala clever enough to listen to Nedved - Buffon|
|Willian not ready to walk out on Chelsea|
|Arsenal striker Lacazette not counting on title miracle|
|Fury licence to be considered by BBBofC in January|
|Sarginson released by Titans|
|World Cup glory worth €350,000 to Germany stars|
|All Blacks skipper Read to undergo back surgery|
|I live day by day - Buffon ponders Euro 2020|
|Remarkable Rohit smashes third ODI double-century|
|West Ham eyeing Wilshere swoop in January|
|Bairstow up to six in unchanged England team|
|Klopp reveals hamstring scare for Liverpool star Salah|
|England can still win Ashes as Hoggard urges Root´s men to smarten up|
|Vuelta champion Froome asked to explain drugs test|
|FFA refuses to speculate on Scolari amid Socceroos interest|
|Mavs spoil Leonard´s season debut, LeBron enjoys career-high night|
|Ronaldo hoping to play with Benzema and Bale again|
|Smith: Pitch conditions in Perth to determine Handscomb fate|
|Packers star Rodgers cleared to return against Panthers|