The Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series by a 10-2 score, evening the best-of-seven series at 2-2. The main actors on the Cubs' side were, well, most of their lineup, including home runs from Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo.
Here are seven things to know about Game 4.
1. The Cubs' bats showed up
Much of the talk entering Game 4 concerned the Cubs' struggling offense. Sure enough, Chicago's lineup would run its scoreless streak to 21 innings. After that? Things turned around -- and quickly.
The Cubs hung 10 runs on the Dodgers, receiving contributions from most everyone in their lineup. That included the aforementioned Rizzo and Russell, each of whom homered after entering the game entrenched in slumps. How bad had that duo performed? They entered in a cumulative 1-for-20 slump. Ouch. On Wednesday, however, both notched multiple hits.
What's more is Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist also recorded multi-hit games, giving the Cubs four in all. Factor in how Chicago even saw reliever Mike Montgomery rap a single, and yeah, it was the Cubs' night at the plate -- and an impressive, important showing from what was a sputtering offense.
2. Neither starter dominated
Another seemingly fun storyline entering Game 4 centered on the differences between Cubs starter John Lackey and Dodgers starter Julio Urias. Lackey is old, right-handed, and experienced; Urias is none of those things.
John Lackey's first career MLB strikeout was of Juan Gonzalez, who was AL MVP the year Julio Urias was born (1996)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) October 20, 2016
Yet those fun parallels proved all for naught, since both starters were out of the game before the fifth inning concluded. Lackey had the more successful night, tossing four innings and tallying a 49 Game Score. Urias' 36 came in 3 2/3 innings, as he allowed four runs and six baserunners. He also had an impressive streak snapped:
So it goes.
3. Other trends were affected
So the Cubs' lineup and Urias both had important streaks dashed. What else happened? The Cubs maintained two stretches of their own. The first was your run-of-the-mill "team wins games when it scores a lot of runs" variety:
And the second wasn't much better. According to the FS1 broadcast, the Cubs owned the majors' best regular-season winning percentage (around 70 percent) when they homered at least once in a game.
On Wednesday night, the Cubs homered more than once and scored more than five times. They won. Surprise!
4. Everyone forgot about a controversial play
In the early going, it looked like we'd spend much of Game 4 talking about instant replay's failures. The lopsided final score said to heck with that.
Still, for those who didn't see, this was the play in question:
Adrian Gonzalez either definitely touched the plate before Willson Contreras applied the tag, or definitely didn't. Who knows for certain. He was called out on the field, and replay then upheld that call. Whether you agree or not ... well, it didn't matter. Let's just hope this is the last replay controversy of the postseason.
5. Speaking of Contreras
The Cubs' young catcher, making his second start of the round, made his presence known early by picking off Justin Turner from second base. Contreras tied for second in pickoffs during the regular season, despite appearing in just 76 games. He's dangerous back there, folks. Check the metrics:
Willson Contreras throw:— Daren Willman (@darenw) October 20, 2016
Pop time: 1.89
Arm strength: 86 MPH
Wow what a throw!
Contreras later made history by committing interference for the second time this postseason:
Willson Contreras: Also called for interference in NLDS2. First known catcher in postseason history to commit it twice (regardless of year).— Doug Kern (@dakern74) October 20, 2016
6. The rest of the Dodgers' bullpen got work
Remember how, on Tuesday night, we all panicked about Dave Roberts' aggressive bullpen management -- namely his decision to use Kenley Jansen with a comfy lead? None of that turned out to matter.
On Wednesday, Roberts got to turn to pretty much everyone but his high-leverage relievers. That meant both Luis Avilan and Alex Wood made their first appearances of the series. Conversely, Ross Stripling made his second appearance of the series, and allowed five runs while recording one out. Woof.
Maybe that's why Roberts stuck with the guy he trusts most to close out Game 3?
7. This is now a best-of-three series
With the Cubs getting a much-needed win in L.A., the series boils down to whichever team can win two of the next three games. Game 5 on Thursday at 8 p.m. could prove crucial for the Dodgers, as a loss would force them to win back-to-back games in Wrigley Field to advance to the World Series.