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Montero’s pinch-hit grand slam lifts Cubs 1-0 in NLCS

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This is the stuff of October baseball. This is the kind of postseason turmoil and triumph that generates the narratives we’ll repeat over and over to our children and our children’s children and our children’s children’s cats for years to come.

We’ll start with Kenta Maeda‘s command issues against the top of the Dodgers’ order, when he centered two fastballs in the strike zone and left them susceptible to Dexter Fowler‘s .276 average and Kris Bryant‘s .554 slugging percentage as the two sluggers combined to bring home the first run of the night. At their urging, we’ll briefly mention Maeda’s first postseason single in the top of the second inning, ripped off of a Jon Lester heater and wasted as Adrian Gonzalez was tagged out at home for the last out, then we’ll skip to the bottom of the second inning and Jason Heyward‘s leadoff triple.

We’ll tell them about Javier Baez, he of the .974 postseason OPS, and how he parked a slider in center field to score Heyward, then dashed for third base on a wild pitch to Jon Lester. When Lester moved to bunt, Baez raced home to startle Dodgers’ catcher Carlos Ruiz a second before the throw reached the bag. We’ll touch on Lester’s four consecutive shutout frames, then drop the bomb: an Andre Ethier home run in the fifth, skied to left center field to bring the Dodgers within two runs of tying the game.

And then, we’ll say, leaning in a little closer and speaking just a little more quietly, this is where gets good. After back-to-back scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, with nary a run between the two teams, the Dodgers loaded the bases against right-hander Pedro Strop. The Cubs brought in Aroldis Chapman; the Dodgers, Corey Seager. Seager went down on four pitches, as did Yasiel Puig. With two outs, Adrian Gonzalez lashed the first 101-m.p.h. fastball he saw for a base hit, driving in two runs and promptly stealing second base before Yasmani Grandal grounded out to strand the go-ahead run.

In the bottom of the frame, with the Dodgers and Cubs knotted 3-3, Los Angeles’ right-hander Joe Blanton surrendered a leadoff double to Ben Zobrist, then intentionally walked Jason Heyward and Chris Coghlan to get to the pitcher’s spot in the lineup. Joe Maddon pulled Chapman for backup catcher and pinch-hitter Miguel Montero, who swung through two strikes to get to the perfect pitch, a 0-2 slider that landed deep in the right field bleachers for the first go-ahead, pinch-hit grand slam in postseason history.

Maybe we’ll polish off the story with the tale of Dexter Fowler solo shot that trailed Montero’s blast, or the way Hector Rondon gave up a run while trying to close out the ninth inning. Maybe, though, we’ll just leave them with this one flawless moment instead.

Video: Cubs score run on Pirates’ appeal throw

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2019 has been one long nightmare for the Pirates. They’re in last place in the NL Central, have had multiple clubhouse fights, and can’t stop getting into bench-clearing incidents. The embarrassment continued on Sunday as the club lost 16-6 to the Cubs, suffering a three-game series sweep in Chicago.

One of those 16 runs the Pirates allowed was particularly noteworthy. In the bottom of the third inning, with the game tied at 5-5, the Cubs had runners on first and second with two outs. Tony Kemp hit a triple to right field, allowing both Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to score to make it 7-5. The Pirates thought one of the Cubs’ base runners didn’t touch third base on their way home. Reliever Michael Feliz attempted to make an appeal throw to third base, but it was way too high for Erik González to catch, so Kemp scored easily on the error.

The Pirates lost Friday’s game to the Cubs 17-8 and Saturday’s game 14-1. They were outscored 47-15 in the three-game series. According to Baseball Reference, since 1908, the Pirates never allowed 14+ runs in three consecutive games and only did it two games in a row twice before this series, in 1949 and in 1950. The Cubs scored 14+ in three consecutive games just one other time, in 1930.