Even after NLDS win, the Cubs don’t want to stop making history
CHICAGO – Buried within the spray of champagne was moment of historical clarity came to the mind of Anthony Rizzo.
One might not blame him for forgetting the significance of what his team just pulled off about 20 minutes earlier but the first baseman was spot on with his memory.
“This is the first time we’ve ever come back after losing the first game,” said Rizzo in the midst of being doused with bubbly after his team won their National League Division Series with the Cardinals with a 6-4 victory in Game 4.
In eleven previous series the Cubs had lost the opening game like they did in St. Louis on Friday, they failed to come back and advance in the postseason. But Rizzo wasn’t done listing his facts.
“It’s our first time clinching here,” is what he said next.
That’s right too.
Since the ballpark opened in 1914 the Cubs had never clinched a postseason series in front of their home fans. They’d had the chance four previous times (No, Rizzo couldn’t name them) but each time produced a new chapter in their history of heartbreak.
His next statement might have people believing that this team might be the one to finally write a new positive entry into Cubs’ lore.
“There’s good things going on in this clubhouse,” said Rizzo. “And we believe.”
As you might imagine he’s not alone amongst this jovial bunch of young Cubs that made history in two ways on Tuesday evening in front of an electric crowd at Wrigley Field. The confident, quickly maturing group of players under Joe Maddon has their attention fixed on repeating celebrations like the one after knocking off the Cardinals in four games.
"That's one of the best moments I've had in my life," said Starlin Castro outside the Cubs dugout with a soaked NLDS championship hat and shirt. "We just have to continue to play like we play and more exciting things will come."
Evidence might not just be in player's confidence as it might have been with past Cubs team. In the four-game series with St. Louis the team showed a solid playoff moxie that allowed them to stage three comebacks against the perennial National League power.
Tuesday was a perfect example. Stephen Piscotty blasted a two-run homer into the bushes in center field before most of the fans had their pregame energy die down in the first inning. The Cubs took the lead in the second inning on a three-run homer by Javier Baez-a player who has dealt with a lot this year himself. Demoted at the beginning of the year, injured while at Triple-A Iowa, Baez also dealt with the death of his sister Noely Baez, who suffered from Spinal Bifida, at the age of 21.
He wouldn't have even played had Addison Russell not injured his hamstring in Game 3. Baez had an error in Game 3 but rallied back strong the following day.
When the Cardinals tied the game in the sixth inning, Rizzo got the lead back with his second homer of the series. Kyle Schwarber had people thinking about tape measure with his solo blast in the seventh that managed to stick at the top of the new video board.
The same thing happened in Game 2 and Game 3-both Cubs come-from-behind victories that created some history.
"I'll tell you what about our young guys," said Maddon on the field after the game. "They're very mature, very accountable people. So it doesn't surprise me that they can hold up under this scrutiny."
It might explain why a number of the players were so quick to look ahead to the next challenge in the NLCS either against the Dodgers or the Mets. That series will be decided in Game 5 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.
"Hopefully it doesn't end here," said third baseman Kris Bryant. "We excited for what's to come."
At the same time their putting some of their jinx history behind them. Whether they know it or not.