Cubs

Sitting on the brink of elimination, Cubs dealt another dose of misery

Sitting on the brink of elimination, Cubs dealt another dose of misery

As Jason Kipnis touched home plate and was greeted by his Indians teammates in the first base dugout, Wrigley Field fell so silent, sounds of the Cleveland celebration could be heard on the opposite end of the stadium.

Wrigley Field was that quiet after Kipnis - a native of Northbrook - drilled a backbreaking three-run homer into the teeth of the wind blowing straight in from right field.

That was the icing on the cake for the Cubs as they were handed a gut-wrenching loss for the second straight night, a 7-2 defeat at the hands of the Indians in front of packed house of fans forced to endure another dose of misery.

The festive mood of the Halloween weekend in Wrigleyville has transformed into a anxious mess of frustration and bewilderment.

"We gotta do our best to not even worry about that stuff," Kris Bryant said. "It’s fun for us to see that, the pictures of everybody outside and so many people. We can’t get too caught up in that.

"Hopefully we win out and these first, whatever, four games will be forgotten."

The Wrigley crowd actually had a lot to cheer about early on as Dexter Fowler led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and came around to score two batters later on Anthony Rizzo's RBI single.

John Lackey, the battle-tested veteran who was signed for these "Big Boy Games," immediately gave up the lead, however, as Carlos Santana led off the second inning with a solo homer. 

Jason Heyward pointed to that moment as the change in momentum in the ballgame and he was right. It was all Cleveland from there.

The Indians added another run on Bryant's second error of the second inning when he threw away Corey Kluber's swinging bunt.

"We gave up the homer; that ball was properly struck," Joe Maddon said. "The other run we kind of gave to them. The ball never left the infield and they got another run."

The Indians added solo tallies in the third and fifth innings before Kipnis' knockout blow in the seventh made Vince Vaughn's rendition of the Seventh Inning Stretch a muted affair.

"We've been here before," Heyward said. "Tonight, if you go back and look at the video of that game, we took a lot of good swings. It's not an excuse. It just is what it is. If the ball doesn't go, it doesn't go."

Dexter Fowler homered in the eighth inning, proving Andrew Miller is not a cyborg and is merely a man who is really, really ridiculously good at pitching.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

It was the first run Miller has given up in his postseason career in 24.1 innings. 

It was also the Cubs' first World Series homer since Game 1 in 1945.

The Cubs now have their backs against the wall, but send Jon Lester to the mound Sunday night in an effort to push the series back to Cleveland, where Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks will be ready to pitch and Kyle Schwarber will be reinserted into the lineup as the designated hitter.

"We just need that one moment," Maddon said. "We have to have a one-game winning streak tomorrow and if we do that, I really would be feeling pretty good about going back to Cleveland."

With Cubs reeling, Jon Lester comes up big and plays stopper

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USA TODAY

With Cubs reeling, Jon Lester comes up big and plays stopper

The last three games have been more than forgettable for the Cubs.

From Wednesday’s 11-1 drubbing at the hands of the Phillies to back-to-back walk-off losses on Thursday and Friday, the Cubs’ current road trip has looked much like those that preceded it. At various times, the offense has scuffled, the rotation has pitched a clunker and the bullpen has cracked.

The solution to the latest road trip woes? Give the ball to Jon Lester and get the hell out of the way.

Lester —  who pitched a clunker himself Aug. 6 against the A’s — did what the Cubs have become so accustomed to see him do over the past four seasons. The 35-year-old tossed 6+ shutout innings, allowing just four hits, leading the Cubs to a 2-0 win.

Lester had no room for error on Saturday, as the Cubs offense went hitless for the first 4 1/3 innings. While the Cubs bats were asleep, the Pirates threatened to break the game on open multiple times, loading the bases with one out (first inning), no outs (fifth) and getting runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth.

The latter two of those instances were assisted by errors by third baseman Kris Bryant, but that’s neither here nor there. Point being, with how the Cubs looked offensively, any Pirates runs could have proved critical on Saturday. Instead, Lester worked out of every jam, stymying the Pirates bats to an 0-for-12 line with RISP.

Winning Saturday’s game was obviously important for the Cubs, as it puts them a game ahead of the Cardinals in the win column (pending the outcome of St. Louis's game against the Reds later Saturday). But it was equally important for Lester, who called himself the “weakest link” in the Cubs starting rotation after that tough outing against the A’s.

The beautiful thing about baseball is that the regular season is 162 games long. Each day presents teams with a new slate, a chance to forget about what happened in the previous game and move forward.  If Saturday’s start shows anything, it’s that Lester and the Cubs are more than capable of putting a tough game in the rearview mirror and keep moving forward.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Get to know Kelly Crull podcast

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NBC Sports Chicago

Cubs Talk Podcast: Get to know Kelly Crull podcast

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, we get to know Kelly Crull. Kelly tells Luke Stuckmeyer about her love of bowling growing up, why she became a reporter and some of her favorite moments covering the Cubs.

01:00 Kelly's love of tennis at an early age

04:00 Following basketball while growing up in Indiana

06:00 Possible tennis showdown between Kelly and Megan Mawicke

09:30 Kelly talks about working in London & interviewing J.K. Rowling

14:00 When did she decide to become a reporter?

15:00 What is her favorite food?

16:00 Kelly's go-to karaoke song

18:00 Kelly's favorite NBA story (it involves Kevin Durant)

21:00 Favorite moments covering the Cubs

24:00 Dealing with the weather at Wrigley Field

28:00 Something we don't know about Kelly

31:00 What does Kelly enjoy watching at home the most?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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