CHICAGO -- The initial wave of murmurs rippled across Wrigley Field when C.J. Edwards threw a third consecutive ball to opposing pitcher Yu Darvish. That Dodgers manager Dave Roberts left Darvish in to hit in the sixth inning of National League Championship Series Game 3 seemed a gift to the
CHICAGO -- The initial wave of murmurs rippled across Wrigley Field when C.J. Edwards threw a third consecutive ball to opposing pitcher Yu Darvish. That Dodgers manager Dave Roberts left Darvish in to hit in the sixth inning of National League Championship Series Game 3 seemed a gift to the Cubs, who were desperate to stay within two runs of the lead. Few considered the possibility that Edwards would not throw a strike.
Moments later, Edwards delivered another fastball wide of the zone, forcing home the fourth run of a 6-1 Dodgers win. By night's end, the Cubs had fallen into a 3-0 hole in the NLCS presented by Camping World, putting them at risk for elimination in Game 4.
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"Do I wish I threw three straight pitches down the middle?" Edwards said. "Of course. But it didn't happen."
More than anything, Edwards -- who averaged more than five walks per nine innings during an otherwise successful regular season -- called the situation "weird." Relieving Kyle Hendricks with two men on base and no outs, Edwards quickly retired two batters and walked another, creating a bases-loaded jam. He spied the on-deck circle, where pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson waited. But at the last moment, Roberts called Granderson back, opting to let Darvish hit for himself.
Admittedly surprised at the turn of events, Edwards delivered his first three pitches to Darvish high, higher and highest, before walking him on an outside fastball.
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"I am certain they told Darvish not to swing, which is a great tack in that situation," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "But it's frustrating."
Said Darvish: "When I stood on the mound facing a hitter, a guy who throws 95, 96 with a cutter, he's got something special going. I didn't think I had a chance to hit. So I just wanted to try to do something, draw a walk or maybe get hit by pitch, anything just to score runs."
Once Darvish accomplished exactly that, boos rained down at Wrigley Field. Edwards eventually struck out the next hitter, Chris Taylor, to keep it a three-run game.
"It's a tough spot," Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "Some pitchers, you know when they're not swinging, it's just tough. You feel for him because he's such a great guy in the clubhouse and such a good pitcher."
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Given a chance to bail out his teammate, Rizzo opened the bottom of the sixth with a single. But a Jonathan Jay double play ended that threat and the Cubs played mistake-prone baseball for the final three innings. Ian Happ committed a two-base fielding error. Benjamin Zobrist allowed a bloop single to drop in front of him. Mike Montgomery uncorked a wild pitch. Willson Contreras sailed a pickoff throw into center field, and allowed a run-scoring passed ball to scoot behind him.
The result was an extremely costly loss. Only one team, the 2004 Red Sox, has ever prevailed after trailing a best-of-seven postseason series, 3-0. But as Edwards said over and over again in Chicago's postgame clubhouse, baseball is just "weird" and "funny" and unpredictable enough that a bad inning in Game 3 won't mean anything in Game 4.
"I wouldn't sit here and say we're going to lose," Edwards said. "We're still confident. We're ready. It's a very funny sport. And we'd like to say the tables can turn at any time."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.