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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.

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Rumor: MLB execs discussing 100-game season that would begin July 1

David Price and Mookie Betts
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Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.

In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.

Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.

Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.