Cubs

Joe Maddon explains why Wade Davis didn't pitch in that series-altering 9th inning of Game 2

Joe Maddon explains why Wade Davis didn't pitch in that series-altering 9th inning of Game 2

If it wasn't confirmed before, it is now: Joe Maddon's honeymoon period in Wrigleyville really is over.

The Cubs bullpen held serve with the lights-out Dodgers bullpen for a while, but at the end, all Maddon could do was watch his team lose with Wade Davis sitting in the bullpen, unused, in the ninth inning.

The reigning World Series-winning manager called on John Lackey with two outs in the ninth inning in a tie game against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS. It was the first time Lackey had ever pitched in back-to-back games in his entire 15-year career.

If you're reading this and didn't just wake up from a coma, you already know what happened: Lackey walked Chris Taylor, then served up a game-winning homer to Justin "Tormund" Turner.

Meanwhile, the Cubs' lone All-Star was sitting in the bullpen watching this all go down. 

Why didn't Maddon go to Davis - his best reliever - in the biggest spot in the game?

"'Cause I really just needed him for the save tonight; we needed him for the save tonight," Maddon said. "He had limited pitches, was one inning only. 

"In these circumstances, you don't get him up and then don't get him in. So if we had caught the lead, he would have pitched. That's it."

The "circumstances" are the fact Davis gave everything he had to even get the Cubs to this point, getting seven outs in Game 5 of the NLDS Thursday night/Friday morning and throwing 44 pitches. It was his longest outing - both by pitches and outs - since 2013 when he was working as a starting pitcher.

Davis had multiple forearm issues last season and he looked weary down the stretch this year at times as Maddon leaned on him hard during a tight pennant race with the rest of the bullpen struggling to find consistency.

Maddon went in depth later in Sunday's postgame press conference, but obviously the save part will drive Cubs fans mad. You can't get a save if you can't get past that bottom of the ninth inning and if you're gonna go down, might as well go down with your best pitchers on the mound against the other team's best hitters.

"I don't necessarily hold off for the save," Maddon said. "In the situation tonight, coming off of his last performance; the other thing you have to consider: understand, when you have a guy like that coming off the performance that he had, to warm him up and to not use him is equally as bad. 

"To warm him up not put him in the game and then ask him to pitch maybe 2 innings later, that's really not good form. So today/tonight, I really was waiting for the opportunity to grab a lead and then throw him out there. That's really what it was all about. 

"There was no way he was pitching more than one [inning], and that was pretty much it."

Maddon said he liked Lackey against the first guy - Taylor - and was going to have Lackey pitch the next inning too, if it got that far. Maddon pointed out that nobody is a good matchup against Turner, not even Davis, which is true.

But Maddon also isn't the only one to blame for the Cubs' 2-0 hole in the NLCS.

Maddon rightly pointed to the hapless offense - "we've gotta score more than one run" - that looks completely out of sorts this postseason. 

They scored nine runs in Game 5 in Washington, but most of those came off outs and Nationals mistakes. In the other six postseason games, the Cubs have scored a grand total of 11 runs.

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?

In the latest CubsTalk Podcast, Kelly Crull and David Kaplan look ahead to Thanksgiving and discuss the official coaching hires for the Cubs.

They also talk about where the Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis, whether Alex Cobb could factor into the rotation plans and Kap goes off on the 11:30 a.m. Opening Day start time.

Check out the entire podcast here: