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LA eyes World Series; Cubs look to stay alive

October 18, 2017

The Dodgers are rolling. The Cubs are reeling. And when the clubs meet again tonight, it could mean a trip to the Fall Classic for one and a long winter for the other.:: NLCS schedule and coverage ::But when the first pitch is thrown in Game 4 of the National

The Dodgers are rolling. The Cubs are reeling. And when the clubs meet again tonight, it could mean a trip to the Fall Classic for one and a long winter for the other.
:: NLCS schedule and coverage ::
But when the first pitch is thrown in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World (9 p.m. ET/8 CT/6 PT on TBS) at Wrigley Field, the Cubs -- down 3-0 in the series and one loss from being eliminated -- will surely remind themselves of some history.
For one, they won the World Series last year, becoming the first Cubs team to do so in 108 years. 
And two, the 2004 Boston Red Sox have already proven that it is not impossible to be down 3-0 and come back and win the next four. They did exactly that against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, propelling themselves into the Fall Classic and bringing a championship to Beantown for the first time since 1918.
Dress for the NLCS:Cubs gear | Dodgers gear
Now the Cubs will look to starter Jacob Arrieta, hoping that the veteran right-hander can channel his recent NL Cy Young Award form while Chicago's quiet offense can come to life against Alex Wood, the left-hander taking the ball for Los Angeles.
"I'm not going to sit here and throw a lot of hyperbole your way," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after the Cubs' 6-1 loss in Game 3 Tuesday night. "It's just about our guys. Your back's absolutely against the wall. Tomorrow is a Game 7. We have three or four Game 7s in a row coming up right now. ... We've got to counterpunch it at some point, and that's absolutely necessary tomorrow."

These positive words are all well and good, and Wrigley Field is sure to be rocking, but these Dodgers are formidable -- potentially historically so -- and very close to advancing to the franchise's first World Series since 1988.
Their methodical victory Tuesday night continued their winning streak in this postseason. They swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile, and they're up 3-0 here. That's a franchise-record six straight postseason wins after an MLB-best 104 wins during the regular season.
And they don't seem like they're slowing down one bit. It showed Tuesday, when starter Yu Darvish was brilliant -- twirling 6 1/3 innings of six-hit, one-run ball with seven strikeouts -- and once again the bullpen was even better. Tony Watson, Brandon Morrow, Thomas Stripling and Kenley Jansen combined for 2 2/3 shutout innings, extending the L.A. 'pen's scoreless streak to 16 2/3 innings this postseason.

"As an organization, we've done a great job of putting together not only a roster, but a 'pen that we feel can combat any lineup," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are getting contributions from everyone and still haven't missed injured star Corey Seager, who is improving every day from the back injury that kept him off the NLCS roster. Shortstop Chris Taylor homered and tripled from the leadoff spot on Tuesday, and outfielder Andre Ethier chipped in with a long ball as well.
So the Cubs are back to the basics. Little has gone their way in these three games. They are clawing for life. They need to win behind Arrieta and then regroup for a Game 5 at home. There's no room for error. Not anymore.
"It's just taking one game at a time, really," Arrieta said. "There is no use in dwelling on what happened the night before or a couple days ago and trying to look too far into the future. I think that's the mindset that we've kind of carried throughout the season, and it's worked out really well for us."
Arrieta has made one start this postseason, a loss in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Nationals. He was somewhat wildly effective, giving up only one earned run but needing 90 pitches in his four innings. He struck out four but walked five, and the Cubs lost the game, 5-0.

Wood, who went 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA during the regular season, hasn't made an appearance this October. He was set to start Game 4 of the NLDS, but the Dodgers swept the D-backs in three. He has kept sharp by throwing simulated games.
"I feel good with where I'm at," Wood said. 
Wood has a chance to win a clincher and be right in the middle of yet another celebration. The Cubs will try to prevent that from happening. 
"I think that, right now, we're just laser-focused on trying to win baseball games," Roberts said. "If [a sweep to get into the World Series] presents itself, obviously it will be great. But right now our focus is Arrieta and trying to figure out a way to win a baseball game tomorrow night."

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.