Cubs

Why Wade Davis was the only person in the building not surprised by Michael Taylor's home run

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USA TODAY

Why Wade Davis was the only person in the building not surprised by Michael Taylor's home run

Wade Davis may have been the only person at Wrigley Field who wasn’t alarmed when Michael Taylor’s fly ball found the basket on Wednesday night.

Several minutes after Jon Lester converted the Friendly Confines into a madhouse with his pickoff move, Taylor turned the aged venue on its side with a back-breaking grand slam that sealed a 5-0 Game 4 victory for the Washington Nationals over the Cubs. Taylor’s homer through the heavy wind and persistent mist that enveloped Wrigley surprised even his own manager.

But Davis said he wasn’t the least bit dazed when Taylor’s opposite-field blast scooted over the fence and sent both teams scrambling to prepare for Game 5 on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t think I’m ever surprised when someone hits one good,” Davis said. “That’s just usually what happens.”

Cubs fans likely found the entire scenario shocking.

Davis has been the stalwart in the Cubs bullpen all season. Sure, he’d surrendered more homers (six) this season than any other since he moved to the bullpen. But that has been the trend baseball-wide.

Despite serving up a few extra round-trippers, Davis converted 31 of 32 saves for the Cubs. With the Cubs down by a run in the eighth, Davis was viewed as the potential lifeline. In a matter of minutes, the crowd had transformed from a frenzied state after Lester’s get-me-over pickoff move nabbed Ryan Zimmerman into a nervous ball of energy when the Nationals loaded the bases with two outs.

Lester yielded a two-out single to Daniel Murphy and Carl Edwards Jr. walked two consecutive batters and fell behind in the count 1-0 to Taylor when Cubs manager Joe Maddon made the call for Davis.

But only two pitches later, Taylor defied the odds when he drove a 95-mph fastball out to right on a day when home runs seemed next to impossible. The result of the 393-foot, opposite-field drive caught Nationals manager Dusty Baker off-guard, particularly after the wind and rain had knocked down Addison Russell’s drive in the second inning.

Yet much to Baker’s surprise, the same elements that afforded Washington an opportunity to start Stephen Strasburg on regular rest after a Tuesday rainout were still in a giving mood. The round-tripper was the first Davis had yielded in the postseason in 107 batters as a reliever and broke open a tightly-contested ballgame.

“I really didn't know,” Baker said. “Fortunately for us, the elements are on our side because Russell's ball would have been way up in the stands and maybe even on the avenue. That ball was blowing back in because that ball was hit a ton.

“I've played many games here, managed many games here, and everybody talks about, you know, how the ball flies here. But I think the time that I was here, I think the stadium takes away more homers than it gives. And tonight, it gave us one.”

Davis was down 1-0 when he took over for Edwards, whose wild streak had loaded the bases. But the free-agent-to-be said the hitter’s count didn’t affect how he planned to approach Taylor. Davis evened the count when Taylor fouled off a first-pitch fastball but left the next one over the middle. Even the 16-mph winds that knocked down Russell’s blast weren’t going to slow down Taylor’s drive.

“I felt pretty good about the at-bat,” Davis said. “Just that particular pitch, tried to go down and off and obviously I threw it almost down the middle.

“It was a bad pitch. It was down the middle and he put a really good swing on it. Definitely if I could have it back, but we’ve got to get ready for tomorrow.”

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:

NBC Sports Chicago to deliver a Chicago baseball Thanksgiving Day marathon

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NBC Sports Chicago to deliver a Chicago baseball Thanksgiving Day marathon

15-straight hours of “Classic” Cubs and White Sox full game replays from the 2017 season gets underway at 9:00 AM CT

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive  or via the NBC Sports app

Chicago, IL (November 21, 2017) -- NBC Sports Chicago, the multi-platform home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, will provide its viewers with a special 15-hour Thanksgiving Day marathon featuring four, thrilling “Classic” games from this past Cubs & White Sox season beginning this Thursday, November 23 at 9:00 AM CT. 

NBC Sports Chicago will also live stream this Classic games marathon to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app.  NOTE: MLB game replays will only be made available to those viewers within NBC Sports Chicago’s regular MLB viewing territory.

Note NBC Sports Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Cubs & White Sox “Classics” game marathon line-up below (all times Central Time):

THANKSGIVING DAY - THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23

9:00 AM“White Sox Classics: White Sox vs. Houston (from August 10) – The future most certainly looked bright on the southside in this match-up as the White Sox defeated the eventual World Series champs, thanks in part to some 9th/extra-inning heroics from team’s highly-touted future cornerstone, Yoan Moncada.

12:30 PM“Cubs Classics: Cubs at Milwaukee (from September 21) – In one of their most exciting victories of the season, the Cubs were down 3-2 in the top of the ninth (not to mention being down to their last strike), but second baseman Javy Baez came through with a clutch RBI single to force extra innings, which was then followed by reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant crushing the Brew Crew’s hopes for division contention with a two-run blast in the 10th.

4:30 PM“White Sox Classics: White Sox at Detroit (from September 14) – The bats were indeed alive as the White Sox belted out 25 hits (a White Sox personal best total since 1981) featuring some impressive firepower courtesy of its top three stars: Avisail Garcia (5-5, HR, 7 RBI), Yoan Moncada (4-5, HR), and Jose Abreu (4-5, 2 RBI).

8:00 PM“Cubs Classics: Cubs at St. Louis (from September 27) – The Cubs clinched their second-straight NL Central Division title with all five of their runs coming in the 7th inning, which included shortstop Addison Russell’s GW three-run shot.  NOTE: Immediately following this “Cubs Classics” game (approx. 10:55 PM), fans can look forward to a replay of “Cubs Postgame Live” that featured the team’s NL Central Division-clinching locker room celebration.

REMINDER: NBC Sports Chicago/NBCSportsChicago.com/NBC Sports app will carry live coverage of all eight Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football State Championship games this weekend (all in HD) beginning with the Class 1A title game Friday morning (Nov. 24) at 10:00 AM and all the way through to the Class 8A battle between area preps powerhouses Lincoln-Way East (13-0) vs. Loyola Academy (12-1) on Saturday night (Nov. 25) at 7:00 PM on NBC Sports Chicago+.  Fans are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com/preps for full coverage and precise channel location/live streaming details.