Joe Maddon wants the Dodgers? He’s got them if Cubs can win one more
Cubs manager Joe Maddon sat in the visitors’ dugout in late August in Philadelphia, just before his team lost a series to the last-place Phillies, and was asked his thoughts about the steamrolling Dodgers.
‘‘Love it, love it,’’ he said. ‘‘Listen, I’m very confident playing against them, too. . . . I like the way we match up against them. A lot, not a little bit.’’
He wants them? He’s got them.
Their pitching lined up and their players well-rested, the Dodgers are awaiting the Cubs for a National League Championship Series rematch — assuming the Cubs can win one of the next two days against the Nationals to wrap up their NL Division Series. Game 1 would be Saturday in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers, who swept the Cubs at Dodger Stadium during the regular season, swept the Diamondbacks in their NLDS to put their 2017 victory total at a 2016 Cubs-like 107.
Maddon was more reticent Tuesday when the comments he made in Philadelphia were brought up, pointing out that he didn’t single out the Dodgers, the writer did.
‘‘They could have brought up the ’27 Yankees,’’ he said. ‘‘When that was all going on, there were a lot of non-believers, and we have really obviously picked it up in the second half in general.’’
The Cubs finished the regular season on a 15-4 run after being swept by the Brewers in mid-September at Wrigley Field.
‘‘You have to beat the best to be the best,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘You can’t run away from any of this stuff. Pick the ’27 Yankees, pick the ’64 Cardinals, the Big Red Machine, whatever. You just want to believe your guys can match up with anybody, and I want our guys to believe the same thing.’’
After pitching into the seventh inning with a compromised right hamstring in Game 3 on Monday, Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’ll be ready to pitch out of the bullpen in a potential Game 5 on Thursday.
Scherzer had a no-hitter for 6„ innings, but he admitted he altered his mechanics to compensate for the strain he suffered in his last start of the regular season.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker confirmed Scherzer is a possibility to pitch out of the bullpen in Game 5.
‘‘That more came out of Max’s mouth than mine,’’ Baker said. ‘‘Max has a loud voice, and we listen to it. He came into my office [Tuesday], and he put up [a raised finger] and said, ‘I’m ready.’ And I’m like, ‘OK.’ ’’
This and that
A victory in either of the next two games would put the Cubs in the NLCS for the third season in a row and a team from the NL Central in the NLCS for a seventh consecutive season. The Cardinals went in 2011-14.
• First baseman Anthony Rizzo, who tied his career high with 109 RBI this season, has driven in five of the Cubs’ eight runs in the series. He also took over the franchise lead in career postseason RBI with 17.
‘‘I guess it’s the year of the RBI for Rizz,’’ teammate Kris Bryant said.
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