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Cubs announce Joe Maddon's lineup for Game 1 of NLDS against Giants

Cubs announce Joe Maddon's lineup for Game 1 of NLDS against Giants

With four days off between the end of the regular season and the first playoff game, the Cubs had plenty of time to talk about how important it is to get out to a good start.

The time is finally here to move on from all the press conferences and media sessions and go out and play.

At the end of the day, the first game can set a tone in a shortened five-game series, but it's not everything.

[RELATED - Cubs set 25-man roster for NLDS]

Last year, the Cubs came off the wild-card game feeling invincible and then ran into the Cardinals in St. Louis, where John Lackey shut down a young lineup.

Of course, the Cubs then went on to win three straight games, bouncing the 100-win Cardinals from the postseason.

For the second straight year, the Cubs will throw out Jon Lester as the Game 1 starter in the NLDS and have geared their defense around him, as expected.

Here is Joe Maddon's complete lineup as the Cubs begin their possible trek toward history:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Addison Russell - SS
6. Jason Heyward - RF
7. Javy Baez - 2B
8. David Ross - C
9. Jon Lester - P

Baez's Gold Glove-caliber skills helps anchor the infield defense while Zobrist moves to the outfield. 

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Bench

Jorge Soler
Chris Coghlan
Tommy La Stella
Willson Contreras
Miguel Montero
Albert Almora Jr. 

Bullpen

Aroldis Chapman
Hector Rondon
Pedro Strop
Travis Wood
Mike Montgomery
Carl Edwards Jr.
Justin Grimm

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

The Cubs and Braves got through roughly one inning of Stranger Things Night at Wrigley Field before Willson Contreras made the evening his own. 

The catcher went 2-4 with three RBI, and provided the most notable moment from the game: a 2nd inning solo homer that caused both benches to clear. Contreras had taken issue with a few of the called strikes earlier in the at-bat, and said something to home plate umpire John Tumpane about it. Contreras continued to make his feelings known as he left the box, drawing the ire of Braves catcher Tyler Flowers.

“To be honest, those pitches weren’t even close to the strike zone,” he said. “[Flowers] got mad because I was talking to the umpire about that, and he jumped into the conversation. 

Contreras then proceeded to shout in the direction of Atlanta’s dugout while rounding first base, and the two catchers exchanged more words as he crossed home plate. The benches quickly emptied, and after a few moments of posturing, returned to their dugouts. 

“It was a lot of emotions together,” he said after the game. “I was having a conversation with the umpire, and it ended up with [Flowers], so that’s all I can say. I just basically told him to do his job and I’ll do mine. I don’t know why he got pissed off because that’s all I said - you do your job and i’ll do mine.”

“I was kind of amused by the whole thing,” Joe Maddon added. “I don’t really know Mr. Flowers - we had a nice conversation, walked away, and it was over. It really wasn’t worth more than what happened.

The confrontation was just one of a few testy moments between these two teams. In the top of the 2nd inning, Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson was caught on cameras shushing the Cubs dugout: 

Two innings later, it was Javy Baez who returned serve by blowing the Braves a kiss after stealing second on Flowers: 

“It’s fun because they’re good,” Maddon said. “And we’re good - that’s the fun part. Monday night, at 7:05, to have that kind of attitude and atmosphere is outstanding. That’s what baseball needs.” 

On the mound, Jon Lester bounced back from a run of three straight underwhelming performances. June hasn’t been kind to Lester, as the lefty had allowed 14 runs over the last 23 IPs prior to Monday’s start, good for a 5.93 FIP. He threw 94 pitches against the Braves, lasting six innings while allowing two runs -- both unearned, though -- and striking out seven. He only threw 94 pitches, but his control (0 BB) was excellent. Lester spotted his strikeout pitch well all night, getting four of his six right-handed K’s on the low outside corner:

“I just tried to stay down there, and had the backdoor cutter to those guys,” Lester said. “We were able to kind of exploit that, and then when we felt that guys were reaching out there a little bit, I ran the cutter in on some guys too. I was just able to command both sides of the plate tonight, which is huge against an offense like that.” 

“Great job by Jon,” Maddon added, “Jon had great stuff. Coming off of [throwing 114 pitches], he’s been throwing a lot of pitches on regular rest, so I wanted to limit that tonight. He was lobbying to go back out, but I didn’t feel good about it based on the longevity of the season and we had a rested Kintzler.

“But Jon was really good, and really good against a tough lineup.”

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi to talk all things Chicago baseball as the Cubs take on the Braves and the White Sox look to get a win in Boston.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: