Tag Archives: Los Angeles Dodgers

Levine: Sluggish Cubs Go Quietly Against Dodgers

By Bruce Levine– CHICAGO (CBS) — It was just shy of a year ago that the Cubs celebrated their first National League pennant in 71 years at the expense of the Dodgers. On Thursday night, ace Clayton Kershaw, little-known Enrique Hernandez and the Dodgers exacted their revenge on the hollowed ground of Wrigley Field. In a dominating performance, the Dodgers finished off the Cubs with an 11-1 victory in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series to earn their first trip to the World Series since 1988. Perhaps we should’ve seen this coming. The Cubs’ grueling NL Divisional Series win against the Nationals went the distance and taxed their bullpen. That was followed by a cross-country flight from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles that took 12 hours because of a medical issue. Throughout the NLCS, the Cubs’ play was sluggish. They refused to use any of that as an excuse. All that mattered was the Dodgers were clearly better. “In the end, the Dodgers just out-executed us,” infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist said after the Cubs were undone by Kershaw’s six strong innings and a three-homer night from Hernandez. “That was it more than us being tired or having a rough go of it. They played better than us in the regular season, which is why they had home-field advantage. We were stretched in the first series to five tough games. We could have set ourselves up better. The bigger story is they out-executed us in the series.” The Cubs were 43-45 and trailed the Brewers by 5.5 games at the All-Star break. They played quality baseball in the second half, but these Cubs never had the feel of a great team. An NL Central title and exciting series win against the Nationals seemed apt for this team. “It makes it easier to know we went out there and just got beat,” third baseman Kris Bryant said. “We did not beat ourselves with a lack of fundamentals. They just played a better series than we did. You just have to tip your hat to them.” In quite an accomplishment, the Cubs have advanced to the NLCS three straight times, with a World Series sandwiched into between. This marked the first time the franchise had advanced to the playoffs for three consecutive seasons since 1906-’08. There was nothing to be ashamed of in the aftermath of defeat late Thursday. “I told our players that this year illustrates how important it is to get off to a good start,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We did not do that. We had to fight back, which we did. It is another lesson learned. You want to emphasize the importance of getting off to a good start next season. I wanted them to be cognizant of that.” Finding a team with more fortitude than these Cubs of the past few years would be difficult. But they’ll have a different look next year. Almost assuredly, rotation members Jake Arrieta and John Lackey won’t return. Arrieta will enter free agency in several weeks and likely be priced out of the Cubs’ preferred range. Lackey is expected to retire after a 16-year career. The next group will be tested in new ways. And when the sting of this exit subsides and that time comes, there’s every reason to believe the Cubs’ sustained success will continue and the championship window will remain open for years to come. Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

Emma: After Unfulfilling Finish, Cubs Must Fill Voids

By Chris Emma—

CHICAGO (CBS) – The excruciating roller coaster ride that is postseason baseball is something to behold, with a palpable buzz throughout a ballpark. Those lucky enough to be there hang with every pitch, each potentially a defining moment.

Wrigley Field had none of that in in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday, when the Cubs were crushed 11-1 by the new kings of the senior circuit, the Dodgers. Ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw was spotted a run before he could take the mound and had a 7-0 lead by the third inning, with the biggest blow being a Kike’ Hernández grand slam, his second of three homers on the night.

The ballpark went from subdued to stunned in that back-breaking third inning, gradually emptying for good in 2017.

“Wait til next year” has different meaning these days in Wrigleyville. No longer is it made a mockery as the Cubs are likely still on the front of of their run of World Series contention. Anthony Rizzo is 28, while Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ are all 25 or younger.

“I looked at the birth certificates of the players playing positions tonight,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I loved it. Heads up. We’re going to keep getting better.”

But next year’s Cubs need some changes, because this year’s group was badly exposed by the much better Dodgers. The Cubs pinned a 43-45 first half on the fatigue of last fall and conceded to being worn down this postseason, but there were fundamental flaws exposed by the end of this unfulfilling run.

A trade could be coming this offseason as president of baseball operations Theo Epstein looks to ensure a different result in 2018. The Cubs have a surplus of young position players and some glaring needs, starting in the rotation.

Jake Arrieta is likely to get a major contract somewhere other than Chicago, and John Lackey’s time in a Cubs uniform is expected to be over, seemingly by retirement. That leaves two voids in the rotation. Mike Montgomery may fill one, but Epstein may be looking to the trade market for another top-line starter. That’s where 23-year-olds in Happ or Almora could offer a strong return and be sold to the highest bidder.

For Epstein, the phone calls should start with an 813 area code to Tampa with the hopes of landing Rays ace Chris Archer, who’s a 29-yearold two-time All-Star good for 200 quality innings each season.

The Cubs also must identify a lead-off man for their lineup. Dexter Fowler was sorely missed atop the batting order in 2017. For all the talented hitters in their linep, the Cubs’ most effective lead-off man this season was Rizzo, whose presence is needed in the heart of the order.

There aren’t prime options available on the free-agent market, so perhaps the Cubs could get creative with a trade. Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, 25, should lead that wish list. He has a career .369 on-base percentage and is controllable through 2022. Meanwhile, the Marlins are looking to unload salary under new management and start fresh.

What was clear throughout the postseason is that the Cubs need to make major changes in their bullpen, which doesn’t compare to what the Dodgers, Indians, Yankees and many more boast.

Closer Wade Davis and left-hander Brian Duensing proved to be the most reliable bullpen arms in October, but Maddon was left throwing darts blindly at the wall in crucial situations. The Cubs must invest in the bullpen to come back stronger next season.

As the party raged on in the visiting clubhouse, Maddon gathered his team around in the spacious home quarters and spoke one final time and brought closure to the season.

“I wanted them to know, listen, three consecutive years when there’s only one other game up on the scoreboard when you’re playing right now, I hope that’s not lost on anybody,” Maddon said. “That’s not easy to do.”

Then Maddon walked through Wrigley Field and by the smell of champagne overpowering the first-base concourse.

His 2017 Cubs were finished. He knows they need to be better in 2018.

“Our guys are so good at addressing needs in the offseason,” he said. “I really believe that’ll be fulfilled.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Cubs’ Title Defense Fizzles Out With Blowout Loss To Dodgers In Game 5

(CBS) The Cubs’ hopes of repeating as World Series champions went quietly Thursday night. Kike Hernandez had a career night with three homers, Clayton Kershaw showcased why he’s the best pitcher in the game and the Dodgers torched the Cubs in a 11-1 victory in Game 5 to win the National League Championship Series. Los Angeles moved on to the World Series for the first time since 1988, while Chicago sandwiched its 2016 title with NLCS exits in 2015 and 2017. The Dodgers dominated from the outset, taking a 1-0 lead on Cody Bellinger’s RBI double off Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana in the top of the first. Hernandez hit a solo homer in the second, then blew it open with a grand slam in the third inning that gave Los Angeles a 7-0 lead. He added a two-run homer in the ninth and finished with seven RBIs. Quintana lasted just two-plus innings in suffering the loss, allowing six runs, all earned, on six hits and a walk while striking out one. Kershaw earned the win with six innings of one-run ball in which he allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five.

Cubs Go With Schwarber, Almora, Zobrist In Outfield Against Kershaw, Dodgers In Game 5

(CBS) After producing the Cubs’ only offense against Dodgers ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, Albert Almora Jr. will man center field and lead off for Chicago in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. Almora hit a two-run homer off Kershaw in the series opener. Behind him will once again be Kyle Schwarber, who homered in a Game 4 win on Wednesday night. The lefty-swinging Jon Jay and Jason Heyward will sit, as switch-hitter Ben Zobrist bats eighth and plays right field. The Cubs will start left-hander Jose Quintana. First pitch is set for just after 7 p.m., and the hometown call can be heard on 670 The Score. Albert Almora Jr., CF
Kyle Schwarber, LF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Willson Contreras, C
Addison Russell, SS
Javy Baez, 2B
Ben Zobrist, RF
Jose Quintana, P

Listen: Fans React To Cubs’ Win In Game 4 Of NLCS On Spiegel & Parkins Voicemail

(CBS) It’s a tradition by now, and while they were still worried, Cubs fans were feeling a little better in leaving messages on the Spiegel and Parkins voicemail line after a 3-2 win against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday night. Take a listen below. If you’d like to leave a message, hit the voicemail line up at 312-729-3965.

Levine: Pressure On Dodgers? Cubs Believe So

By Bruce Levine– CHICAGO (CBS) — Logic would tell you the Cubs are under more pressure than the Dodgers to win Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night. After all, if Chicago loses, its season is over. Still, the Cubs believe otherwise. As Los Angeles leads the series 3-1 with ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw taking the mound in Game 5, the Cubs believe the onus is on the Dodgers, who disputed that notion themselves. “I wouldn’t say the pressure is on us,” Roberts said. “I think we are in a pretty good spot. We have got our No. 1 pitcher going. We have the two guys at the back end (of the bullpen in Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen) rested. “I can’t speak to their mindset, but I like the position we are in.” Since the League Championship Series went to a seven-game format, only the 2004 Red Sox have come back to win after trailing 3-0. The Cubs have a massive challenge just to get past Kershaw in Game 5, let alone think about taking four straight yet. That’s why they’re preaching about their focus of staying in the moment. “This is going to sound really crazy, but I think all the pressure is on the Dodgers,” Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. said after a Game 3 loss. “You look at the 2004 Boston team. The pressure was on the Yankees to finish the job. By the looks in the eyes of the media and fans, the season is over for us. I know there is nobody in this clubhouse that believes that. The pressure is still on them to finish us off. But each day, we are going to come with our best to keep this series going.” The Cubs have experience beating Kershaw. They did so a year ago in Game 6 of the NLCS to advance to the World Series, and they chased him after five innings in this series opener. “We just have to make him throw the ball over the plate,” Cubs infielder Javier Baez said. “We know what he has got. We also know he is one of the best pitchers in MLB. We have faced him a lot during the regular season and playoffs.” For his part, Cubs manager Joe Maddon wants his team to embrace the pressure of winning the four straight games it needs to advance. “Pressure, like I have said before, is a good word,” Maddon said. “So if they are taking that word and channeling it in the proper direction, I am all about it. If you are taking that word and it causes you to clam up, not be yourself, go attempt different methods, I don’t like that word.” Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana opposes Kershaw in Game 5. “We have always said one game at a time,” Quintana said. “I see that even though we were down 3-0, nobody panics. We have a really good team and a lot of talent, so we can do it. We need to minimize our mistakes and try to win this series one game at a time.” Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

Five Things You Missed: Yankees, Dodgers One Win from World Series

By Andrew Kahn The Cubs fought off elimination on Wednesday to force tonight’s Game 5. Clayton Kershaw will face Jose Quintana at Wrigley Field. The Yankees won their third straight to take a 3-2 lead against the Astros. That series moves back to Houston, with Game 6 on Friday. 1. No place like home No team in the American League had a better home record than the Yankees this season (51-30). After Wednesday’s 5-0 win over the Astros, New York is now 6-0 at Yankee Stadium in these playoffs. The atmosphere in the Bronx has been undeniably electric. It’s easy to cheer positive results, but the Yankee fans have remained loud and encouraging when things haven’t been going so well. Joe Girardi said this series has been as loud as he’s heard this park, which opened in 2009. Chase Headley compared it to a college football game, with fans going crazy throughout. It helps that the Yankees have taken advantage of the homer-friendly environment. They hit five home runs in the three games at Yankee Stadium this series; the Astros have not hit any. Of course, the series goes back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday. The Astros have also not lost at home yet this postseason (4-0), and the Yanks were the only playoff team to post a losing record on the road this year. Home field advantage in the World Series is based simply on regular season record; the Yankees would start on the road no matter their opponent; Houston would have the edge over Chicago but not Los Angeles. 2. Turner’s time Entering yesterday’s game, only two players with at least 90 postseason plate appearances had a better OPS than Justin Turner: Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Turner is behind only Gehrig in on-base percentage for anyone with more than 60 plate appearances. This is the same player who was nothing more than a solid utility man for the Mets for three years before they gave up on him. The 32-year-old has become a star in Los Angeles. Turner hit a walk-off home run in Game 2 and reached base four times yesterday, adding another home run. It’s been a team effort for the Dodgers in this series and all season, but Turner is their best hitter. 3. Baby Bombers The Baby Bombers—Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Greg Bird—have certainly not been overwhelmed by October’s bright lights. The trio drove in four of the Yankees’ five runs on Wednesday. Judge and Sanchez were right in the middle of New York’s big comeback in Game 4. With the Yanks down 4-0, Judge homered to lead off the seventh, and Sanchez hit a sac fly. Judge’s double tied it the next inning and Sanchez’s double gave them the lead. Bird walked three times in the game. They are young (25 or under), large (Sanchez is the shortest at 6’2”; Bird the lightest at 220), and love playing together. They have not performed flawlessly—through 11 playoff games, the trio has struck out a combined 56 times, with Judge accounting for 24—but what Yankee fans once viewed as the future core has proven to be a very productive present. 4. Seager’s subs Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager getting left off the NLCS roster because of a back injury could have been a devastating blow. His replacements have made sure it hasn’t been. Charlie Culberson played short the first two games against the Cubs. He hit a sac fly to tie Game 1 and later doubled and scored a run. He doubled and scored the tying run in the fifth inning of Game 2. Chris Taylor filled in with right-handers on the mound, homering and tripling in Game 3 and drawing a couple of walks in Game 4, while playing very good defense. Seager, last season’s Rookie of the Year, could return if the Dodgers make the World Series. 5. Not done yet That the Dodgers were unable to pull off the sweep last night was not surprising. In the wild card era, only two teams have swept their way into the World Series (the Royals in 2014 and the Rockies in 2007). They’ll send Kershaw to the hill to try and win their 23rd pennant, which would tie them with the Giants for most in National League history. The Cubs will likely need their starter, Quintana, to go deep in the game to give them a chance. Their best reliever, Wade Davis, is unavailable after throwing 48 pitches last night, and the rest of the bullpen has been shaky. The potentially good news for Chicago is that its star hitters, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, are a combined 4-for-29 in this series with no extra-base hits. Bryant in particular has been struggling (eight strikeouts in 14 plate appearances), but if he and/or Rizzo can get right in a hurry they could carry the offense. Houston has been swallowed by the Yankees’ momentum but their aforementioned success at home is comforting. Plus, the Astros will have one of the best pitchers in baseball on the mound in Justin Verlander. The late summer acquisition threw a complete game against the Yanks in Game 2. Of course, their bats will have to be better to win two in a row. The best offense in the regular season has stalled a bit in this series; the Astros have scored just nine runs in five games. Josh Reddick has been in the two-hole for four of the games and is 0-for-17. Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about baseball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at andrewjkahn@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn

Five Things You Missed: Yankees, Dodgers One Win from World Series

By Andrew Kahn The Cubs fought off elimination on Wednesday to force tonight’s Game 5. Clayton Kershaw will face Jose Quintana at Wrigley Field. The Yankees won their third straight to take a 3-2 lead against the Astros. That series moves back to Houston, with Game 6 on Friday. 1. No place like home No team in the American League had a better home record than the Yankees this season (51-30). After Wednesday’s 5-0 win over the Astros, New York is now 6-0 at Yankee Stadium in these playoffs. The atmosphere in the Bronx has been undeniably electric. It’s easy to cheer positive results, but the Yankee fans have remained loud and encouraging when things haven’t been going so well. Joe Girardi said this series has been as loud as he’s heard this park, which opened in 2009. Chase Headley compared it to a college football game, with fans going crazy throughout. It helps that the Yankees have taken advantage of the homer-friendly environment. They hit five home runs in the three games at Yankee Stadium this series; the Astros have not hit any. Of course, the series goes back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday. The Astros have also not lost at home yet this postseason (4-0), and the Yanks were the only playoff team to post a losing record on the road this year. Home field advantage in the World Series is based simply on regular season record; the Yankees would start on the road no matter their opponent; Houston would have the edge over Chicago but not Los Angeles. 2. Turner’s time Entering yesterday’s game, only two players with at least 90 postseason plate appearances had a better OPS than Justin Turner: Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Turner is behind only Gehrig in on-base percentage for anyone with more than 60 plate appearances. This is the same player who was nothing more than a solid utility man for the Mets for three years before they gave up on him. The 32-year-old has become a star in Los Angeles. Turner hit a walk-off home run in Game 2 and reached base four times yesterday, adding another home run. It’s been a team effort for the Dodgers in this series and all season, but Turner is their best hitter. 3. Baby Bombers The Baby Bombers—Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Greg Bird—have certainly not been overwhelmed by October’s bright lights. The trio drove in four of the Yankees’ five runs on Wednesday. Judge and Sanchez were right in the middle of New York’s big comeback in Game 4. With the Yanks down 4-0, Judge homered to lead off the seventh, and Sanchez hit a sac fly. Judge’s double tied it the next inning and Sanchez’s double gave them the lead. Bird walked three times in the game. They are young (25 or under), large (Sanchez is the shortest at 6’2”; Bird the lightest at 220), and love playing together. They have not performed flawlessly—through 11 playoff games, the trio has struck out a combined 56 times, with Judge accounting for 24—but what Yankee fans once viewed as the future core has proven to be a very productive present. 4. Seager’s subs Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager getting left off the NLCS roster because of a back injury could have been a devastating blow. His replacements have made sure it hasn’t been. Charlie Culberson played short the first two games against the Cubs. He hit a sac fly to tie Game 1 and later doubled and scored a run. He doubled and scored the tying run in the fifth inning of Game 2. Chris Taylor filled in with right-handers on the mound, homering and tripling in Game 3 and drawing a couple of walks in Game 4, while playing very good defense. Seager, last season’s Rookie of the Year, could return if the Dodgers make the World Series. 5. Not done yet That the Dodgers were unable to pull off the sweep last night was not surprising. In the wild card era, only two teams have swept their way into the World Series (the Royals in 2014 and the Rockies in 2007). They’ll send Kershaw to the hill to try and win their 23rd pennant, which would tie them with the Giants for most in National League history. The Cubs will likely need their starter, Quintana, to go deep in the game to give them a chance. Their best reliever, Wade Davis, is unavailable after throwing 48 pitches last night, and the rest of the bullpen has been shaky. The potentially good news for Chicago is that its star hitters, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, are a combined 4-for-29 in this series with no extra-base hits. Bryant in particular has been struggling (eight strikeouts in 14 plate appearances), but if he and/or Rizzo can get right in a hurry they could carry the offense. Houston has been swallowed by the Yankees’ momentum but their aforementioned success at home is comforting. Plus, the Astros will have one of the best pitchers in baseball on the mound in Justin Verlander. The late summer acquisition threw a complete game against the Yanks in Game 2. Of course, their bats will have to be better to win two in a row. The best offense in the regular season has stalled a bit in this series; the Astros have scored just nine runs in five games. Josh Reddick has been in the two-hole for four of the games and is 0-for-17. Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about baseball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at andrewjkahn@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn

Five Things You Missed: Yankees, Dodgers One Win from World Series

By Andrew Kahn The Cubs fought off elimination on Wednesday to force tonight’s Game 5. Clayton Kershaw will face Jose Quintana at Wrigley Field. The Yankees won their third straight to take a 3-2 lead against the Astros. That series moves back to Houston, with Game 6 on Friday. 1. No place like home No team in the American League had a better home record than the Yankees this season (51-30). After Wednesday’s 5-0 win over the Astros, New York is now 6-0 at Yankee Stadium in these playoffs. The atmosphere in the Bronx has been undeniably electric. It’s easy to cheer positive results, but the Yankee fans have remained loud and encouraging when things haven’t been going so well. Joe Girardi said this series has been as loud as he’s heard this park, which opened in 2009. Chase Headley compared it to a college football game, with fans going crazy throughout. It helps that the Yankees have taken advantage of the homer-friendly environment. They hit five home runs in the three games at Yankee Stadium this series; the Astros have not hit any. Of course, the series goes back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday. The Astros have also not lost at home yet this postseason (4-0), and the Yanks were the only playoff team to post a losing record on the road this year. Home field advantage in the World Series is based simply on regular season record; the Yankees would start on the road no matter their opponent; Houston would have the edge over Chicago but not Los Angeles. 2. Turner’s time Entering yesterday’s game, only two players with at least 90 postseason plate appearances had a better OPS than Justin Turner: Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Turner is behind only Gehrig in on-base percentage for anyone with more than 60 plate appearances. This is the same player who was nothing more than a solid utility man for the Mets for three years before they gave up on him. The 32-year-old has become a star in Los Angeles. Turner hit a walk-off home run in Game 2 and reached base four times yesterday, adding another home run. It’s been a team effort for the Dodgers in this series and all season, but Turner is their best hitter. 3. Baby Bombers The Baby Bombers—Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Greg Bird—have certainly not been overwhelmed by October’s bright lights. The trio drove in four of the Yankees’ five runs on Wednesday. Judge and Sanchez were right in the middle of New York’s big comeback in Game 4. With the Yanks down 4-0, Judge homered to lead off the seventh, and Sanchez hit a sac fly. Judge’s double tied it the next inning and Sanchez’s double gave them the lead. Bird walked three times in the game. They are young (25 or under), large (Sanchez is the shortest at 6’2”; Bird the lightest at 220), and love playing together. They have not performed flawlessly—through 11 playoff games, the trio has struck out a combined 56 times, with Judge accounting for 24—but what Yankee fans once viewed as the future core has proven to be a very productive present. 4. Seager’s subs Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager getting left off the NLCS roster because of a back injury could have been a devastating blow. His replacements have made sure it hasn’t been. Charlie Culberson played short the first two games against the Cubs. He hit a sac fly to tie Game 1 and later doubled and scored a run. He doubled and scored the tying run in the fifth inning of Game 2. Chris Taylor filled in with right-handers on the mound, homering and tripling in Game 3 and drawing a couple of walks in Game 4, while playing very good defense. Seager, last season’s Rookie of the Year, could return if the Dodgers make the World Series. 5. Not done yet That the Dodgers were unable to pull off the sweep last night was not surprising. In the wild card era, only two teams have swept their way into the World Series (the Royals in 2014 and the Rockies in 2007). They’ll send Kershaw to the hill to try and win their 23rd pennant, which would tie them with the Giants for most in National League history. The Cubs will likely need their starter, Quintana, to go deep in the game to give them a chance. Their best reliever, Wade Davis, is unavailable after throwing 48 pitches last night, and the rest of the bullpen has been shaky. The potentially good news for Chicago is that its star hitters, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, are a combined 4-for-29 in this series with no extra-base hits. Bryant in particular has been struggling (eight strikeouts in 14 plate appearances), but if he and/or Rizzo can get right in a hurry they could carry the offense. Houston has been swallowed by the Yankees’ momentum but their aforementioned success at home is comforting. Plus, the Astros will have one of the best pitchers in baseball on the mound in Justin Verlander. The late summer acquisition threw a complete game against the Yanks in Game 2. Of course, their bats will have to be better to win two in a row. The best offense in the regular season has stalled a bit in this series; the Astros have scored just nine runs in five games. Josh Reddick has been in the two-hole for four of the games and is 0-for-17. Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about baseball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at andrewjkahn@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn

Ejected Cubs Manager Joe Maddon On Umpires’ Overturn: ‘Process Was Wrong’

By Chris Emma– CHICAGO (CBS) — Cubs manager Joe Maddon was given every chance to remain in the dugout for the conclusion of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night. He was more focused on going down fighting for his team and getting his message across on what he considered a baseball injustice. In the eighth inning of his team’s tense 3-2 win against the Dodgers in Game 4 that staved off elimination, Maddon was ejected for the second time in this NLCS. This time, he was set off by the umpires overturning what initially had been ruled a strikeout of Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson, who swung through a low knuckle curveball from Cubs closer Wade Davis with two strikes. After Granderson and the Dodgers complained that he’d foul tipped it, the umpiring crew conferred and changed the call, which was non-reviewable. That sent Maddon storming out onto the field as Davis labored through a long inning en route to an eventual six-out save. He voiced his anger at just about every member of the six-person crew before finally getting tossed. Throughout the rant, the Cub showcased the replay on the video board that made it clear the final ruling was incorrect. Granderson ended up striking out on the next pitch after Maddon retreated to the clubhouse. Maddon vented postgame anyway after his on-field rage. “If Granderson hits the next one out, I may run out of the clubhouse in my jock strap,” Maddon said. “It was really that bad. You can’t permit that to happen. The process was wrong. The explanation was eventually — eventually —  it turned into hearing two sounds. “Not one of them saw a foul tip or thought it was a foul tip. It was based on two sounds. I totally cannot agree with that process whatsoever. When you have 40,000-something people, it’s late in the game. The other sound could’ve come from some lady screaming in the first row. I have no idea. But I can’t buy that process. “There’s no way – no way – I’m not getting ejected at that point. I got to make my point.” Contreras backed Maddon. “The ball never lies, so he struck out the next pitch,” Contreras said. Maddon’s rant came after he made the bold move to go to Davis in the top of the eighth inning with a 3-1 lead, asking him to save the Cubs’ season. Trust in the bullpen has been lost during a postseason of struggles, so Maddon gambled that Davis could get the job done. After allowing a solo homer to Justin Turner to cut the deficit to 3-2, Davis escaped the eighth inning with two Dodgers on by striking out Chase Utley. After walking Chris Taylor with one out in the ninth, he forced likely NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger into a 4-6-3 double play. With the season hanging in the balance, Maddon managed like there was no tomorrow, and now there will be no tomorrow for Davis. After throwing 48 pitches – including 17 to earn the first of six outs – Davis is unavailable for Game 5 at Wrigley Field on Thursday, Maddon said. If the Cubs have a late lead, they’ll have to find somebody else for the save. The Cubs’ bullpen is fresh aside from Davis, with Brian Duensing the only other reliever to work in Game 4. He faced one batter and threw just two pitches. This means that Duensing, Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Mike Montgomery and John Lackey are all available. If Maddon’s bold moves from Wednesday are any indication, the Cubs could even turn to an available starter to force a flight out to Los Angeles for Game 6. On this night, Maddon and the Cubs with a hard-fought win. After three games of lifeless baseball, the Cubs came out swinging back at the Dodgers. The energy in the ballpark was electric, building a palpable tension as Davis fought for those final outs. As Davis made his manager’s bet a winner, Maddon watched from the clubhouse in his jockstrap as the Cubs survived to play another day. Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.