Game 3 of the Cubs-Giants NLDS was one of the most insane playoff games in recent memory, and Game 4 did its part to try and match it. The Giants felt like they were in control for pretty much the entire game, scoring in the first inning and never trailing through eight.
You could actually feel the narratives of the inferior Giants toppling the 103-win Cubs due to things like goats or curses or even years, as if said narratives were palpable.
Instead, the Cubs took the goat by the horns and flipped Game 4 on its head, closing down the Giants and stopping the streak of even-year World Series titles in San Francisco at three.
Let's walk through the ninth. Why? Because the Cubs joined the 1986 Mets (Game 6 of the NLDS) as the only two teams to come back from a three-run deficit in the ninth inning of a clinching game to win. Narrowed down stat? A little, but it shows how rare this sort of thing is. There haven't
So, yes, let's take a saunter through the six steps of the comeback.
First off, let's note that the Cubs had only two hits all night. This offense was in a slumber. It was only temporary, as things would turn out.
STEP ONE Kris Bryant, who had hit well all series, faces off against Derek Law, who had become a Fox Sports 1 favorite for his enthusiasm in Game 3. Law also threw a 2016-high 35 pitches in Game 3 and his command didn't look nearly as sharp against Bryant. Bryant got things started with a single.
STEP THREE Bochy then turned to Sergio Romo, who coughed up a game-tying, two-run homer to Bryant on Monday. He also threw a season-high 32 pitches. He's often a bit off with the command, but it could have been carryover from Game 3 as well. Whatever it was, Romo fell behind 3-1 to Ben Zobrist, who came through with a line-drive double down the right-field line. Bryant scored while Rizzo moved to third and Zobrist, as the tying run, was in scoring position.
STEP FOUR The managerial chess match hits its peak. Addison Russell was due up for the Cubs, but he was a mess in the series at the plate. Cubs skipper Joe Maddon sent lefty Chris Coghlan to the plate -- but important to note that Willson Contreras already had a helmet and bat in the dugout. Bochy countered with left-hander Will Smith.
Once Smith was announced, Maddon went to Contreras, who had gotten several strong swings in the series.
Did Maddon dupe Bochy into getting the right-handed Contreras a lefty to face? It's possible. Regardless, it worked out as Contreras would come through with a two-RBI single to tie the game.
STEP FIVE Jason Heyward attempts a bunt. It was bad and looked like a double-play. Instead, on the turn, stellar defensive shortstop Brandon Crawford threw it away. The Giants recorded an out, but the bunt essentially worked, because now -- by virtue of the throwing error -- Heyward was standing on second base.
STEP SIX Javier Baez digs in against Hunter Strickland. If there was a series MVP, Baez would have won it after hitting .375/.412/.563 with the game-winning home run in Game 1 and this go-ahead laser in Game 4:
Strickland -- who came on to face Baez -- would get a double play off the bat of David Ross to end the inning, but the damage was done. Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman shook the location issues that plagued him earlier in the series and struck out all three batters he saw in the ninth and the series was over. Just like that.
The win expectancy graph is like a roller coaster -- like one of the most death-defying first-drop roller coasters on Earth:
Even if those aren't really your thing, those who watched the game should take a look at how much that felt like the game itself. The entire time, it really felt like it was building toward a Giants victory. Not necessarily slowly, but definitely surely. And then it just totally fell off a cliff in a matter of six hitters and five pitchers.
On the latter point, that's also amazing. Matt Moore of the Giants was exceptional and worked eight innings. So it took the Giants one pitcher to get through eight innings and then five to get through the ninth. It sums up their bullpen woes on the season, as they led the majors with 30 blown saves in the regular season.
Still, it was pretty shocking to see the Cubs make history like that, especially given how the rest of the game had transpired.
What a series, really. Three of the four games were decided by one run and the winner of those games took the lead in the eighth, 13th and ninth innings, respectively.