Bill Baer

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Addison Russell #27 of the Chicago Cubs looks on against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning of game four of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 19, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Cubs’ bats wake up, slug past Dodgers 10-2 in NLCS Game 4 to even up series


After getting shut out in back-to-back games in the NLCS against the Dodgers, the Cubs’ woke up with a vengeance in Game 4 at Dodger Stadim on Wednesday evening. The offense banged out eight runs and 10 hits to take a convincing 10-2 victory to even the NLCS at 2-2.

Dodgers starter Julio Urias was humming through the first three innings, going toe-to-toe with postseason veteran John Lackey. With a scoreless tie through the first third of the game, it looked like it’d be a nailbiter.

The Cubs’ offense, though, awoke from its slumber in the top of the fourth. Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez hit back-to-back singles to open up the frame. Willson Contreras singled to left field to plate Zobrist. Both Baez and Contreras advanced on the bases when Andrew Toles made a poor throw. The struggling Jason Heyward came up and missed on several pitches down the middle, ultimately grounding out weakly to first base, but at least it brought another run in to make it 2-0. Addison Russell, who had been having just as miserable a postseason, followed up with a well-struck two-run home run to center field, doubling the lead to 4-0. Anthony Rizzo tacked on one more leading off the fifth, drilling a solo homer to right-center off of reliever Pedro Baez.

The Dodgers answered in the bottom half of the fifth. Lackey walked Toles and pinch-hitter Andre Ethier, forcing manager Joe Maddon to bring in lefty Mike Montgomery to face pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick, replacing lefty Chase Utley. Kendrick singled to left field, loading the bases. Montgomery was able to strike out Corey Seager, giving him light at the end of the tunnel. Justin Turner then hit a comebacker to Montgomery who, if he had fielded it cleanly, likely would’ve had an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play. Instead, it deflected off of his glove, past Russell at shortstop and into left field. Toles and Ethier both scored, cutting the lead to 5-2. Montgomery saw his way out of the inning from that point, though, getting Adrian Gonzalez and pinch-hitter Enrique Hernandez to ground out.

In the top of the sixth, the Cubs doubled their run output with a five-spot. It started when Russell reached on an infield single. Maddon, questionably, had Montgomery hit for himself rather than a pinch-hitter, but as fate would have it, Montgomery sliced a single to left, putting runners on first and third. Dexter Fowler came up and singled to right, plating Russell. Kris Bryant drew a walk to load the bases. Then, Rizzo came through again with a single to right, plating two. Ben Zobrist hit a light tapper in front of home plate, but it was far enough in front to make a tough play for catcher Yasmani Grandal. Zobrist reached on a call that was overturned, scoring the Cubs’ 10th run and their fifth of the inning. Baez flied out and Contreras grounded out to send the game to the bottom half of the sixth.

Montgomery worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, getting a strikeout and two ground outs. He gave way to Carl Edwards, Jr. in the seventh, who issued a two-out walk to Seager, then left with left hamstring tightness after being tended to by trainer Ed Halbur. Lefty Travis Wood entered and walked Turner before getting Gonzalez to fly out, sending the game into the eighth.

Pedro Strop took over in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out Carlos Ruiz, got Pederson to fly out to right, and ended the inning with a Grandal ground out.

The ninth was Hector Rondon‘s. The right-hander struck out Toles to start the inning. Yasiel Puig then chopped a single past second baseman Baez, but Rondon bounced back to get Kendrick to fly out to right field and Seager to ground out, finalizing the 10-2 victory. It’s the worst postseason loss the Dodgers have suffered at Dodger Stadium.

With the series tied at two games apiece, the Dodgers and Cubs will meet again for NLCS Game 5 on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. Jon Lester will start for the Cubs while the Dodgers will counter with Kenta Maeda. The series is guaranteed to return to Wrigley Field for at least Game 6, possibly Game 7.

Blue Jays will bring back John Gibbons in 2017

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  John Gibbons #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during batting practice prior to game five of the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Losing in the ALCS for a second consecutive season hasn’t cost John Gibbons his job. Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins and president Mark Shapiro both confirmed that the club will bring back the skipper in 2017, Scott Mitchell of The Toronto Sun and the National Post reports.

Gibbons, 54, will head into his fifth season in his second stint as manager of the Blue Jays. He managed the club from 2004-08 before returning in 2013. This recent stint has included leading the Jays to a 339-309 (.523) record with a first-place finish last season and defeating the Orioles in the AL Wild Card game this season. The Jays moved past the Rangers in the ALDS to face the Indians in the ALCS, but were eliminated in Game 5 on Wednesday.

Andrew Miller named ALCS MVP

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Andrew Miller #24 of the Cleveland Indians throws a pitch in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

No surprise here: Indians reliever Andrew Miller was named MVP of the ALCS, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports. Miller is the first reliever to win LCS MVP since Koji Uehara in 2013 for the Red Sox.

During the ALCS, Miller pitched 7 2/3 innings, giving up zero runs on three hits with no walks and 14 strikeouts. Miller was nearly as dominant in the division series, tossing four shutout innings on two htis and two walks with seven strikeouts.

Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez was very complimentary of Miller on Twitter:

The Indians acquired Miller from the Yankees ahead of the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline, sending minor leaguers Clint Frazier, J.P. Feyereisen, Jusus Sheffield, and Ben Heller to New York. It seems to have worked out.