Game 4 victory a huge sigh of relief for Cubs fans
SAN FRANCISCO — This is such a pretty place, this AT&T Park, with the bay, the hills and the palm trees just over the left-field wall.
But, by God, it’s time for the Cubs to get out of town.
This agonizing National League Division Series is finally over, with the Cubs winning 6-5 in — choose one — a wondrous, uplifting comeback or a gut-wrenching, near-heart-attack inducer.
The rally the Cubs staged in the ninth inning of Game 4 was something for the ages. Maybe it shouldn’t have come down to that, but it did.
And there came Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, Willson Contreras and the blossoming Javy Baez delivering hits that led to four runs — exactly how many were needed to end the series 3-1.
Even slugger Anthony Rizzo, whose bat has morphed from iron to helium this postseason, did his part by drawing a walk and scoring. An error by Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford sure helped, but what are you gonna do?
Well, you can take the good timing, the good fortune, and flee the Bay Area before somebody makes you bed down on Conor Gillaspie’s garage floor. Indeed, the White Sox castoff got chants of ‘‘MVP’’ from the crowd late in the game after torching the Cubs in Games 3 and 4.
That’s the thing about short series: The stars don’t always shine, the best don’t always win and lessers can rise up and smite the great. Gillaspie hit the home run that beat the Mets in the NL wild-card game, hit a two-run triple to damage the Cubs in
Game 3 and went 4-for-4 in
Game 4 before he could be sent packing.
Not easy, folks. Not easy at all.
‘‘The assumption is that the other team has Little League players or American Legion players or not players that are good enough to be in the big leagues,’’ Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before the game. ‘‘That’s a bad assumption to make.’’
Especially with these Giants, who somehow had won an incredible 10 consecutive elimination games in the playoffs — until this one.
It had to restore some faith in the Cubs’ faithful, make them realize things couldn’t continue the way they were going or this would be a failure with all kinds
of new curses to choose from,
such as Gillaspie, cable cars
It really looked beyond bad for a while there. Trailing 5-2 at the start of the ninth, the Cubs were looking as listless as flu victims.
Starting pitcher John Lackey had long since been chased away. And, if you’ll recall, he was brought in as a free agent from the Cardinals for just such postseason work. He had bedeviled the Cubs as a member of the Cardinals, and he had won World Series with the Angels and Red Sox. That’s what the Cubs wanted. Funny how you get where you want to go, isn’t it?
Breathe a sign of relief, Chicago. In fact, do some jumping jacks and get your blood flowing again. Try to smile. Grimace, at least.
After all, it’s lucky the Cubs are getting out of here with their baby-bear logos still crawling and not just drying hides on the Giants’ clubhouse wall.
‘‘We were so close to heading to Chicago,’’ Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ‘‘We really would have liked to have had a shot there in that fifth game.’’
No, it’s fine that’s not happening. This victory was painful enough.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.