2016 National League Division Series 1
|2016 National League Division Series|
103 - 58 in the NL
|3 - 1
|San Francisco Giants|
87 - 75 in the NL
- Todd Tichenor, Alan Porter, Larry Vanover, Marvin Hudson, John Hirschbeck (crew chief), Mike Muchlinski
|1||San Francisco Giants 0 Chicago Cubs 1||October 7||Johnny Cueto (0-1) Jon Lester (1-0)||9:15 pm|
|2||San Francisco Giants 2 Chicago Cubs 5||October 8||Jeff Samardzija (0-1) Kyle Hendricks (0-0)||8:08 pm|
|3||Chicago Cubs 5 San Francisco Giants 6||October 10||Jake Arrieta (0-0) Madison Bumgarner (0-0)||9:38 pm|
|4||Chicago Cubs 6 San Francisco Giants 5||October 11||John Lackey (0-0) Matt Moore (0-0)||8:38 pm|
Game 1 @ Wrigley Field
|WP: Jon Lester (1-0); LP: Johnny Cueto (0-1); SV: Aroldis Chapman (1)|
|Home Runs: CHI - Javier Baez (1)|
- Attendance: 42,148
With two of the best pitchers in the National League facing off in Game 1, observers were expecting a pitchers duel - and it's exactly what they got. For Giants fans, the game was eerily similar to the victory over the New York Mets in the Wild Card Game two days earlier, only with Johnny Cueto in the role of Madison Bumgarner. For the Cubs, postseason veteran Jon Lester was also at his best. As a result, the first seven innings were scoreless, with neither team coming particularly close to scoring either.
Gorkys Hernandez, starting in CF for the Giants in place of Denard Span, did start off the game with a single on a beautiful bunt, but he was immediately caught stealing on a great throw by ageless C David Ross. In fact, San Francisco was pretty good at putting its leadoff man on base in the first few innings, with Hunter Pence and Conor Gillaspie respectively leading off the 2nd and 3rd innings with a single, but neither made it far. In Gillaspie's case, the Cubs put on a set play with 1B Anthony Rizzo advanced practically as far as the mound to field a potential bunt by Cueto. An unsuspecting Gillaspie drifted towards second, but Lester deliberately threw outside, and Ross immediately sent a bullet to 2B Javier Baez, who had snuck in behind the runner to cover first base, and Gillaspie was picked off. In the meantime, Cueto had faced the minimum number of batters through three innings.
The Giants had their best chance in the 4th thanks to a one-out single by Buster Posey followed after a second out by a double off the bat of Angel Pagan. Cubs LF Ben Zobrist rushed in and slid to catch the sinking liner, but he missed it, however Posey stopped at third base. Lester then ended the threat by forcing Brandon Crawford to ground out to short. Kris Bryant got the Cubs' first hit, a double with one out in the bottom of the 4th and advanced to third on a ground out by Rizzo, but Zobrist was unable to drive him in. Nothing much happened over the next three innings, as both pitchers were completely in command of the situation, racking up strikeouts and weakly-hit balls. Lester retired the Giants in order again in the top of the 8th, but after a pop-up by Jason Heyward, Cueto hung a breaking ball against Baez, who hit it on an uppercut. It was a very high drive that came down just behind the left-field fence, ending up in the wire basket located in front of the top of the brick wall, giving Chicago a 1-0 lead. Manager Joe Maddon figured that in such a game, one run would be enough to win, and he opted to change his battery, pinch-hitting Chris Coghlan for Ross and Tommy La Stella for Lester.
This set the stage for the 9th inning. Fireballing lefty Aroldis Chapman came in to pitch, with Willson Contreras taking over at catcher. Hernandez was first up. He worked a full count but was not able to check his swing on the final pitch and was called out on appeal by first base umpire Alan Porter. Bruce Bochy then decided to send righty Eduardo Nunez to bat for lefty Brandon Belt. Nunez again forced Chapman to throw a number of pitches, but in the end he hit a grounder to right which was fielded by Baez. It was clear that Nunez was still not fully recovered from the pulled hamstring that had sidelined him for the Wild Card Game, as he hobbled to first. The final hope for San Francisco was Posey, one of the few batters with a positive career record against Chapman, and he gave the Wrigley Field faithful a big scare. On Chapman's first pitch, he crushed a line drive to left field, but it did not have enough elevation to clear the fence, hitting the brick wall at full speed for a double. A foot higher and the game would have been tied. Chapman was unfazed, though, and he then forced Hunter Pence to hit a weak grounder which Baez, fittingly, fielded and threw to first to end the game.
Game 2 @ Wrigley Field
|WP: Travis Wood (1-0); LP: Jeff Samardzija (0-1); SV: Aroldis Chapman (2)|
|Home Runs: Travis Wood (1)|
- Attendance: 42,392
In Game 2, the Cubs sent National League ERA leader Kyle Hendricks on the mound, a pitcher who had emerged as a top-rank hurler this season and earned comparisons toHall of Famer Greg Maddux in the process. Facing him was Jeff Samardzija, a former Cub who had had some good seasons in the past, but had only been so-so in 2016. He turned out to be an easy prey for Cubs batters on this night. Both teams made some changes to their line-up, with Chicago using rookie Willson Contreras in place of David Ross at catcher, while San Francisco went back to his regular line-up, with Denard Span against a righthander leading off and playing centerfield and Joe Panik at second.
After the Giants went down in order in the top of the 1st, the Cubs went to work immediately against Samardzjia, with Dexter Fowler leading off by doubling to right. With two outs, Ben Zobrist dropped a single to shallow right and Fowler, who was off with the crack of the bat, scored the first run. The Giants mounted something in the 2nd when Hunter Pence led off with a single then was forced out by Brandon Crawford. Angel Pagan then reached on catcher's interference by Contreras to put a second man on with one out, but the budding rally ended when Conor Gillaspie grounded into a double play. The bottom of the 2nd was the fateful inning, however. Jason Heyward got things off with a double to right and Javier Baez drew a walk. Contreras followed with a single to right that loaded the bases and Hendricks then helped his cause immensely by lifting a single to center field, scoring both Heyward and Baez, who ran full out all the way and almost ended up in Heyward's back as he crossed the plate. After one out, Kris Bryant lifted a ball towards Hunter Pence in right field; Pence tried to make a sliding catch, but the ball bounced out of his glove and Contreras scored. It was now 4-0, a significant deficit for a low-scoring team like the Giants.
San Francisco did manage to make the game close by getting to Hendricks in the 3rd. Panik started with a double, then Bruce Bochy sent in Gregor Blanco to pinch-hit for Samardzija. Blanco drove a ball to the wall in left-center for a double and a first run, then moved to third on a ground out by Span. Brandon Belt hit a sacrifice fly, and we had a game again, with a score of 4-2. George Kontos came in to pitch and retired the Cubs in order in the bottom of the 3rd. In the 4th, with two outs, Pagan hit a line drive through the middle that hit Kendricks on the right forearm before landing safely. It was obviously painful for the Cubs' pitcher, and he had to leave the game. Travis Wood stepped in and struck out Gillaspie to end the inning. In the bottom of the frame, Wood wrote his name in the history books by jumping on a fastball by Kontos and driving it deep into the left field seats for a solo homer: he was only the second relief pitcher in postseason history to hit a homer, following Rosy Ryan in Game 3 of the 1924 World Series. The 5-2 score would hold the rest of the way.
The rest of the game was anticlimactic after the dramatic first few innings. Sensing he would need a lot of substitutes, Bochy sent in his ace pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, to bat for Kontos in the 5th. He scorched a ground ball towards third base which handcuffed Bryant, who then made an ill-advised throw to first that ended up in the dugout. The third baseman was charged with two errors on the play. Wood retired everyone else he faced in an inning and a third, though, and would end up getting credit for the win. Rookie Ty Blach kept things close in relief of Kontos, but with one out in the 6th, Bochy replaced him with righty Santiago Casilla. Baez greeted him by hitting a towering fly ball to left, stopped briefly to admire it before realizing it was not going to leave the ballpark, and turned on the burners to make it to second. However, the Giants challenged the play, and in one of the absurdities of contemporary baseball, he was called out when the video review showed that, for a fraction of a second invisible to the naked eye, he had lost contact with the base while sliding in ahead of the throw. There was a parade of relievers but little offensive action over the final innings, until Aroldis Chapman was called to pitch the 9th for Chicago. He flashed his almost unhittable 103 mph fastball in striking out two of the three men he faced to earn his second save in two days.
Game 3 @ AT&T Park
|WP: Ty Blach (1-0); LP: Mike Montgomery (0-1)|
|Home Runs: CHI - Jake Arrieta (1), Kris Bryant (1)|
- Attendance: 43,571
The Cubs headed to San Francisco with a chance to sweep the series, but while they were confident due to the presence of Jake Arrieta on the mound, they were also facing the man with an unassailable reputatuion as a postseason miracle-worker in Madison Bumgarner; if anyone could keep this juggernaut Cubs team from clinching, it was Bumgarner. The Cubs made a couple of changes to their lineup, replacing RF Jason Heyward with Jorge Soler, who batted clean-up and played in left while Ben Zobrist slid over to right, and also starting their third different catcher in three games in Miguel Montero. For its part San Francisco was forced to replace LF Angel Pagan, who was bothered by back spasms, with Gregor Blanco.
The Cubs stunned Bumgarner in the 2nd when Addison Russell was hit by a pitch and Javier Baez singled. With two outs, Arrieta came up, and, taking a page from Travis Wood's book two nights earlier, he lined a fastball from Bumgarner into the left-field seats for a three-run homer. A stunned Bumgarner then allowed a single to Dexter Fowler and walked Kris Bryant, but the Cubs could not deliver the knock-out blow. Still, the Giants were reeling. It continued in the 3rd when Zobrist doubled and Russell singled with one out, but they were unable to add to their lead. Then the Giants got a run back on a double by Denard Span and a single by Buster Posey. When Bryant singled with two outs in the 4th, Bruce Bochy had the bullpen warming up, but once again, Bumgarner was able to limit the damage. He pitched one more inning, then gave way to pinch-hitter Eduardo Nunez to lead off the 5th. The Giants cut the Cubs' lead to 3-2 that inning on a triple by Span followed by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Brandon Belt, and it was a tight game once again.
Rookie Derek Law took over on the mound in the 6th and kept the Cubs from scoring, while Arrieta retired the Giants in order. In the bottom of the 7th, Joe Maddon called on Pedro Strop to take over from Arrieta while also strengthening his defence with a couple of other moves. Strop got two outs and Wood retired the pesky Span to bring Chicago within six outs of eliminating the Giants. Things unraveled in the 8th, however. Wood gave up a lead-off single to Belt and was replaced by Hector Rondon, who immediately walked Posey. Maddon then pulled his trump card, bringing in Aroldis Chapman in a double switch. Chapman struck out Hunter Pence for the first out, but next up was the hero of the Wild Card Game, Conor Gillaspie and he hit a triple to right to give the Giants their first lead of the series, 5-4. Brandon Crawford followed and hit a single for an insurance run. The Cubs were not going to take this lying down, especially against a Giants bullpen that had faltered repeatedly in the second half. Sergio Romo got off on the wrong foot by walking Fowler, and Bryant made him pay immediately by driving a pitch to the left field stands for a two-run homer. The score was now 6-6. Mike Montgomery took over for Chapman in the bottom of the 9th and he got Posey to line into a double play after walking Belt with one out, sending the game into extra innings.
Both managers had already used a slew of substitutes and did not have that many pitchers available either. Both teams went down in order in the 10th, then Will Smith pitched a perfect inning for the Giants in the top of the 11th. Joe Panik led off the bottom of that frame with a single and he was sacrificed to second by Blanco. Smith was now due up and Bruce Bochy called on back-up catcher Trevor Brown as a pinch-hitter. He grounded out to third and Span grounded to short, prolonging the game some more. Ty Blach was next to pitch for San Francisco and he reeled off a 1-2-3 12th inning, although Albert Almora's line-out to CF Span was only granted after a video review. Meanwhile, Montgomery was still pitching for Chicago and gave his team a fourth straight scoreless frame. In the 13th, Baez and Willson Contreras managed back-to-back singles with one out for the Cubs. "Grandpa" David Ross was sent in to pinch-hit, but he grounded into a double play to end the threat. The Giants finally broke through in the bottom of the 13th: Crawford led off with a double and Panik doubled as well, ending a contest that had taken five hours and four minutes. They would live to play at least one more game.
Game 4 @ AT&T Park
|WP: Hector Rondon (1-0); LP: Will Smith (0-1); SV: Aroldis Chapman (3)|
|Home Runs: CHI - David Ross (1)|
- Attendance: 43,166
The Cubs came close to being ambushed by the Giants in Game 4, as they needed a tremendous 9th-inning comeback to clinch the series win after looking anemic for most of the game. John Lackey was facing Matt Moore on the mound, and while Lackey had the more impressive postseason resumé, it was Moore who had a great day. David Ross was back behind the plate for Chicago, with Jason Heyward returning to right field, while for San Francisco, Angel Pagan was still unavailable and was replaced again by Gregor Blanco in left field.
San Francisco drew first blood as Denard Span opened the bottom of the 1st with a double, moved to third on a fly out by Brandon Belt and scored on a sacrifice fly by Buster Posey. The Cubs tied the game in the top of the 3rd when Ross led off the frame with a home run. The Giants were continually on base in the early innings, but Ross managed to cut down Span on a steal attempt in the bottom of the 3rd to limit the damage. In the 4th, however, they scored two more runs. Conor Gillaspie and Joe Panik hit back-to-back singles with one out and Blanco walked to load the bases. Lackey got two quick strikes on Moore, who did not take the bat off his shoulder, but on his third pitch, he lined the ball into right for a run, continuing the excellent hitting by both teams' pitchers in the series. Span then hit into a fielder's choice for a third run. The Cubs cut the lead by one in the 5th when Javier Baez made it all the way to third base on a throwing error by SS Brandon Crawford on a routine ground ball. Ross followed with a sacrifice fly to cut San Francisco's lead to 3-2.
The game was still close at that point, even though Lackey had not been sharp at all. He was replaced by a pinch-hitter after the Cubs' second run and Justin Grimm came in to pitch the 5th. Hunter Pence singled after one out then Crawford redeemed himself by hitting a ball that bounced on top of the right field wall, missing being a home run by no more than three inches. He stopped at second, and incomprehensively, Pence only made it to third. Travis Wood relieved Grimm, but he allowed a single to Gillaspie to score a run, and Panik then hit a sacrifice fly to increase the lead to 5-2. It was looking more and more like a Game 5 would be needed, with no doubt a huge psychological impact on the Cubs, who had been expected to roll over the Giants easily. Fans were sporting goat masks in the stands at AT&T Park as the game advanced. Moore was completely in control as he faced only one batter over the minimum between the 6th and 8th innings. However, he had thrown 120 pitches by the end of the 8th, so there was no way he could pitch the 9th.
The Giants' bullpen had been the team's Achilles heel in the second half, as Santiago Casilla has pitched his way out of the closer's role. Sergio Romo had taken over, but did not really have Bruce Bochy's confidence. With a three-run lead, Bochy took the fateful decision not to use one of his two battle-tested veterans, but instead one of the rookies who had done well for him during the regular season, Derek Law - albeit on a short leash. Kris Bryant was the first batter of the frame, and he hit a single to left. Out went Law, in came Javier Lopez, one of the best LOOGYs in the business, to face the stone-cold Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo managed to draw a walk. Out came Lopez, and in came Romo, but with a budding fire to extinguish. He proved not to be up to the task. Ben Zobrist greeted him with a double, and it was now 5-3, with the tying run in scoring position and still no one out. Joe Maddon sent in Chris Coghlan to bat for the struggling Addison Russell, and Bochy changed pitchers again, now calling on Will Smith. In another chess move, Coghlan was called back to the dugout and rookie Willson Contreras went to bat, giving the Cubs the platoon advantage again. Contreras singled to center, both runners scored and the game was now tied. Heyward followed by laying down a bunt; it was not a particularly good one, as Smith was able to throw out Contreras at second but Crawford tried to turn a double play, and threw the ball away, putting Heyward on second, which was better than a successful sacrifice bunt would have been, as it put a faster runner in scoring position. Time to change pitchers again for Bochy. Hunter Strickland was now tasked with keeping the game tied, but he allowed a single to Baez, Heyward scored from second, and the Cubs were now in the lead. The inning ended when Ross hit into a double play, but the Giants had been completely deflated. Aroldis Chapman came to pitch the bottom of the 9th and he needed only 13 pitches to strike out the side and earn his third save of the series. San Francisco had given the Cubs a scare, but in the end, the key to the series was that three time, the Cubs had managed to score in the final two innings, resulting in two wins and a loss in extra innings. It was enough to advance to the next round, and the dream of ending their century of futility was still alive.
- Gabe Lacques: "Giants' bullpen ends season only way it knows how — with spectacular meltdown", USA Today Sports, October 12, 2016. 
- Mike Petriello: "Giants vs. Cubs: Position-by-position NLDS look: Chicago took 4 of 7 regular-season meetings in 2016", mlb.com, October 6, 2016. 
|Major League Baseball National League Division Series