The Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series (GameTracker). The Dodgers now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, with a chance to secure the pennant on Thursday.
Here's what you need to know about Game 4.
Realistically, Game 4 was probably the last time we'll see Jake Arrieta pitch for the Cubs. Arrieta is a free agent at year's end, and the Cubs will presumably pass on paying him the kind of wages he'll earn through the open market. His time in Chicago has been mostly good, with some rough patches along the way. On Wednesday, he was mostly good, too.
Arrieta tossed 6 ⅔ innings on 111 pitches. He fanned nine of the 28 batters he faced, issuing five walks and allowing three hits and a run. Obviously Arrieta would've preferred to throw more strikes, but the important thing is he was able to keep the Cubs in the game. Results are what the Cubs need right now more than anything else -- and results are what Arrieta gave 'em.
Cubs lean on long ball
Here's something you might not know: 100 percent of the Cubs' runs in this series have come via home runs. That includes Wednesday night, when the Cubs saw all their scoring occur on solo shots.
One of those home runs came off the bat of catcher Willson Contreras, who had left Game 3 after taking a ball to the arm. Contreras seemed to be okay, at least based on his moonshot:
Javier Baez, meanwhile, contributed two home runs -- including one he had to go down and get:
Because it's Javier Baez, there was some pizzazz involved -- check the bubble:
Baez entered the night 0-for-20 in the postseason. The Cubs have to hope he's on the upswing.
Not without controversy
It wouldn't be a baseball postseason game without legislative red tape.
This game's came in the eighth inning, when Curtis Granderson seemingly swung and missed and struck out. Granderson argued that he had fouled the ball off. The play wasn't reviewable (and replays weren't clear on whether he did get a piece), yet the umpires got together and overturned the original call, causing Joe Maddon to go ballistic. Maddon was tossed for the second time in the series, but it didn't actually affect the inning's outcome -- Granderson struck out and Wade Davis escaped with a one-run lead in tact.
Still, it was a bizarre sequence -- and one that, frankly, risked contaminating an otherwise fun game.
Bryzzo continue to struggle
Kris Bryant entered the series 7-for-32 on the postseason. Anthony Rizzo, on the other hand, was 5-for-30. Neither did much to change their luck on Wednesday. Rather, they combined to go 0-for-7 with four strikeouts.
As those two go the Cubs go. Right now, they aren't going much of anywhere.
Davis makes series debut
Cubs closer Wade Davis didn't appear in any of the series' first three games. He did show up in Game 4.
Davis entered in the eighth, looking for a six-out save. His first inning of work was a struggle, though, as he allowed a solo home run to Justin Turner and suffered through a prolonged frame that required 34 pitches. Davis later worked a nine-pitch at-bat against Tony Cingrani in the bottom half of the inning. Nevertheless, Davis returned for the ninth. What's more is he pitched a fairly uneventful ninth -- permitting just a walk before inducing a game-ending double play. Go figure, huh?
Given how much Davis pitched, it seems unlikely he'll be available in Game 5. But then, it's not like the Cubs are guaranteed anything beyond Thursday -- so why risk leaving something in the tank?
Turner's elite OBP
Justin Turner has been a fantastic hitter in the postseason, and he added a solo home run late in the game off Wade Davis. Need more evidence? Consider that his on-base percentage is the best ever among players with more than 100 plate appearances. Yes, really:
Turner's certainly not the first player you think about when you think about the player least likely to make an out in the postseason, but the numbers are the numbers -- and they're impressive.
Series odds update
Believe it or not, the Cubs still face long odds in coming back from a 3-1 deficit. According to WhoWins, baseball teams who take a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series win the set 84.3 percent of the time. They win the subsequent game less than half the time (49.4 percent), so the Cubs could well force a Game 6 if the macro statistics stand the test of the micro.
On to Game 5
The Cubs will attempt to keep their repeat hopes alive on Thursday evening. They'll send Jose Quintana to the mound. The Dodgers will counter with Clayton Kershaw. Should be a good one. It'll start at 8 p.m. ET.