CHICAGO -- Maybe all the Cubs need is for Ben Zobrist to bunt like he did in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers. Or perhaps second baseman Javier Báez could make another Cirque du Soleil-type defensive play to spark his teammates.The Cubs find themselves facing
CHICAGO -- Maybe all the Cubs need is for Ben Zobrist to bunt like he did in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers. Or perhaps second baseman Javier Báez could make another Cirque du Soleil-type defensive play to spark his teammates.
The Cubs find themselves facing elimination in the World Series after losing, 7-2, to the Indians in Game 4 on Saturday night. Cleveland leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 and can celebrate its first championship since 1948 on Sunday night with a win at Wrigley Field.
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Take a deep breath, Chicago. The team that won 103 games during the regular season didn't disappear, it's just had to deal with some really good pitching.
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"We've won three games in a row before," Jason Heyward said. "From Spring Training to this day, we've told ourselves to approach every day the same, go out there, get after it, have fun and compete. Bring the best out of each other, and at the end, look up and see where that gets you."
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Manager Joe Maddon is sticking to the same theme. On Sunday, players don't have to report to Wrigley until 5:30 p.m. CT. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. CT.
"It sounds like a normal day in Chicago to me," Heyward said.
Is that how Heyward will approach it?
"That's how it's going to be," he said. "We're not going to change a thing."
That depends on who you talk to.
"We need to worry about winning an inning, scoring a run or two, and let that momentum keep going," said John Lackey, who took the loss Saturday in his 23rd career postseason start. "We can't get too far ahead of ourselves. Just try to win at-bats, win a pitch, and keep those things moving.
"We just have to play better. There's plenty of talent in this room to win a ballgame tomorrow. We just have to execute and play a good baseball game."
There were uncharacteristic mistakes in Game 4. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first on Anthony Rizzo's RBI single, but third baseman Kris Bryant committed two throwing errors in the second inning that helped the Indians score two runs. Bryant had made two errors in two other games before, but he had never committed a pair in the same inning.
"We made mistakes," Maddon said. "But again, we have to do more offensively to give ourselves a chance."
There was a euphoric feeling at Wrigley at the start of the game, and it intensified when the Cubs scored in the first on Rizzo's RBI single. Generations of Cubs fans were giddy. Corey Kluber looked human. But that lasted one inning. Dexter Fowler scored on Rizzo's hit in the first, and he accounted for the Cubs' only other run when he homered off Andrew Miller in the eighth. Fowler's the first Cubs player to homer at home in the World Series since Chuck Klein did so in Game 5 of the 1935 Fall Classic.
Heyward felt the elements hurt the Cubs, and that there were other balls that the wind stopped from landing in the bleachers.
"On a better day, I think we hit four homers off them tonight," Heyward said. "They hit some balls, too, but we took a lot of good swings and we went out there and followed our game plan."
That's all Maddon wanted after the Cubs were held to five hits and shut out, 1-0, in Game 3, when the wind favored the hitters and was blowing out. But veteran Miguel Montero, who is watching most of the Series from the bench, sees the Cubs' problems a little differently.
"They're all trying to hit a grand slam with nobody on," Montero said. "It's not going to happen. We need to take our walks. We need to be a little bit more patient at the plate. We need to play small ball. I said it in [Los Angeles], we need to play small ball. We're all trying to launch the ball 110 mph off the bat, launch angle, whatever. ... No, we need to get a freaking ground ball through a hole. It's as simple as that."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.