From bubble gum to foul tips to high pitch counts, Cubs find a way to play another day

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CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Javier Baez #9 of the Chicago Cubs reacts to hitting a home run in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game four of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 18, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Isn’t it funny how the Cubs can seem like a bit of a jinxed team even after breaking a curse?

A strikeout gets reversed on a foul tip, even with it being replayed on a couple hundred feet board just a glance away. A manager getting kicked out of a second game of postseason series for the first time in modern history, all with a one run lead to protect and elimination on the line.

Forget about black cats, it was almost Joe Maddon in a jock strap on Wednesday night.

No, we’re not making this up.

“To have that changed and if Granderson hits the next pitch out, I might come running out of the clubhouse in my jockstrap,” said the Cubs’ manager.  “That was really that bad.”

Even worse than a 63-year old, scantily clad manager racing onto the field after being ejected? Yup.

Replays clearly showed that Wade Davis’ pitch wasn’t fouled off by Curtis Granderson and was called a such by home plate umpire Jim Wolf. An argument from the hitter and Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts got the ump to confer with his crew who convinced him to overturn the call.

The reason was as crazy as the reversal itself.

“The explanation was eventually — eventually it turned into hearing two sounds. Not one of them saw a foul tip or heard — thought it was a foul tip. It was based on two sounds, which I totally cannot agree with that process whatsoever,” said Maddon. “When you have 40-some thousand people, it’s late in the game. The other sound could have come from some lady screaming in the first row.

“I have no idea. I can’t buy that process. Could have been a guy too. I don’t want to bang on a lady.”

There goes the season, right? Not quite. Even with their usual dose of crazy, the 2017 Cubs kept their trademark resiliency to survive for just one more day in the National League Championship Series.

Davis proceeded to strike out Granderson again, making this call reversal one of the many odd footnotes in an odd Game 4 against the Dodgers. Led by a pair of homers from a player that was 0-for-the playoffs before Wednesday, and pitching his longest outing of the season, the reliever helped the Cubs hold on for a 3-2 victory to earn their first victory over Los Angeles in the series.

Fun stuff, huh?

“The other part is you want to win the darn game, man. You want to win the game,” said Maddon when asked more about his argument that led to his ejection. “And if that takes the game away from you right there, that would be really awful.”

Davis, who threw a season-high 48 pitches, was the last but certainly not the first to keep the Cubs from making that call a decisive one. The other pitcher in the game – Jake Arrieta – left only seven out for the bullpen to get after his 6 2/3 inning gem where he allowed just 1 run, three hits, and struck out nine batters.

His departure from the game in the 7th was met with a grand ovation and a tip of the cap from the pitcher, who may very well have thrown his final game with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. With his contract ending once the season does and a high pay day from somewhere else coming, it was a possible goodbye for the former Cy Young winner who helped the team to a World Series championship.

“I had that mindset that I’m going to do everything in my power to get it to tomorrow,” said Arrieta, and he got some help from a slumping teammate.

While his tag and point at Yasil Puig in the ninth inning of Game 3 made some waves on social media, Javier Baez was causing a lot of air with his swings at the plate in the 2017 playoffs. Twenty at-bats against the Dodgers and Nationals produced not a single hit from the infielder who was the co-MVP of the NLCS a year ago against the Dodgers.

But Baez woke up on this night, taking starter Alex Wood deep for solo homers in the second and fifth innings for what ended up being the deciding runs on the night. Like usual, he did it with some flair, blowing a bubble as he leapt out of the batter’s box for a home run trot.

” I was like I just need to take a step back and see what’s going on,” said Baez of his struggles.  “I’ve been watching videos, and after my 15th AB, I was feeling better, even that I didn’t get a knock or a good contact. But my timing was feeling good.”

All would have been for not if it weren’t for Davis, who endured a peaks and valleys in a 48-pitch epic in the final two innings. Justin Turner welcomed him to the game with a solo blast to left that went to the side of the video board.  There was a walk after that, an out, the Granderson fiasco, then another walk before he struck out Chase Utley to end the inning.

After batting for the first time since the 2015 World Series in the eighth, and drawing nine pitches before finally striking out, Davis walked another batter with one out in the top of the ninth. But he induced a double play from Cody Bellinger, who homered off Arrieta in the third, to end one of the more stressful outings of the closer’s season.

“I always enjoy being out there whenever we’re in a close game, especially when we’re in these types of situations,” said Wade, who went 44 pitches in the NLDS clinching save against the Nationals six days earlier. “We’re down 3-0, so we have to win, and I enjoyed being out there for that for sure.”

Nevermind the casual insanity that is the Cubs, even after a world championship.

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