The Stakes – MASSIVE
The Game: Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco Giants, NLDS Game 4
The Time: 8:30 PM EDT
The Place: AT&T Park, San Francisco
The Starters: John Lackey (Cubs) vs. Matt Moore (Giants)
After a rollercoaster epic game 3, the Cubs have left the door open for a game 5 if they can’t close the deal in San Francisco tonight. Then that question, that mercurial curse of the Chicago Cubs, can they break it and are they good enough….
Tonight the Giants have to get past John Lackey (11-8, 3.35), who has been through this playoff deal a few times. This will be his 21st playoff start, which is the most among active pitchers. You may remember that one of his earliest ones came in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series when Lackey, then a rookie, beat the Giants to give the Angels their only World Series title. That doesn’t matter now, but what else is a game preview for than dropping bits of history? How about this history: the last time he faced the Giants in the postseason he got beat up, losing to them in Game 3 of the 2014 NLCS while pitching for the Cardinals. He was a different John Lackey that year than he has been this year, but he is an experienced big game player.
The Giants will counter with Matt Moore (13-12, 4.08 ERA), who pitched better down the stretch than his overall 2016 numbers suggest. Heck, he pitched better down the stretch than his down-the-stretch numbers even suggest, allowing two or fewer runs in six of his last eight starts. His September numbers were inflated by two disaster starts sprinkled in. At any rate, Bruce Bochy considered him to be his Game 2 starter before ultimately deciding on Jeff Samardzija.
All of the fundamentals still favor Chicago. They have better pitchers available in the series’ final two games, if indeed it goes two games. They have the better offense. They have the better defense. All they don’t have going for them is the fact that, in baseball, especially in a short series, sometimes none of that matters a bit. Both of these games are very winnable by both teams, the Cubs have proven throughout the year to be the most dominant force, but they must deliver on the big stage for any of that to count for anything.
Cubs in 5