Cubs now can regroup
Comeback win Tuesday gives them time to rest
CHICAGO — Hitting the reset button Wednesday was a necessity for a Chicago Cubs team that dramatically avoided its first elimination game a night earlier.
The 6-5 comeback victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night also allows the Cubs to rest before their next challenge.
“That’s important for us,” Ben Zobrist said as he surveyed a wild Wrigley Field celebration the day after Game 4 of the National League Division Series. “We really didn’t play as well as we feel like we could have in this series. We pitched great. Some of us didn’t play offensive the way we’re capable of.
“So it will be nice to have a fresh start. … You’re facing a whole new group of guys, a new group of pitchers. And I think our confidence is up, which is good.”
The Cubs won two of three one- run games against the Giants despite meager contributions from Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward and Zobrist, who sparked a four-run, ninth-inning rally in the clincher Tuesday with an RBI double.
“The big thing is, we got a couple days off,” said left-hander Jon Lester, his voice hoarse. “I don’t want to say it wears off, but we become fans [today] and see what happens. Then we’ll try to get the momentum going when we face the next team.”
The Cubs can feel optimistic and fortunate because they have a three-day break before Game 1 of the NL Championship Series Ben Zobrist celebrates after hitting an RBI double against the Giants in the crucial ninth inning Tuesday. GIANTS VS. CUBS Cubs win 3-1 Game 1: Cubs 1-0 Game 2: Cubs 5-2 Game 3: Giants 6-5 (13) Game 4: Cubs 6-5 against the Los Angeles Dodgers or Washington Nationals on Saturday at Wrigley.
The Cubs were 5-2 against the Nationals and 4-3 against the Dodgers this season. Manager Joe Maddon doesn’t have a preference for which team advances.
“Because when you start worrying about who you’re going to play, it could bite you,” Maddon said. “We played very well against both.”
The NLDS reinforced Maddon’s preseries theme of rebounding from adversity. The Cubs overcame a 5-2 deficit in the ninth inning Tuesday, during which Maddon used Willson Contreras to pinch-hit for Russell, who had 95 RBIs during the regular season. Contreras delivered a two-run single to tie the game at 5.
“We’re moving up,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We got one of the three steps down, and we have two more. And there will be more adversity.
“That’s one thing you try to tell yourself going into the playoffs. Even a successful postseason has these awful moments where you have a pit in your stomach. And we experienced that for eight innings. It’s great to [overcome that], but you have to steer yourself to think it’s going to happen.”
Perhaps the ninth inning Tuesday will serve as a springboard for the slumping players. Rizzo, who was 1- for-15 in the series, showed better plate discipline and drew a walk against sidearm left-hander Javier Lopez during the decisive rally. And Zobrist was 2-for-15 before hitting his RBI double.