By Sam Bush
The Chicago Cubs needed to rally against the Washington Nationals and Max Scherzer with a bizarre fifth inning to post a 9-8 game 5 victory and clinch the National League Division Series.
The Cubs will face the Dodgers in a rematch of the NL Championship Series, which begins tomorrow at Dodger Stadium. The two NL teams join the American League Championship Series finalists — the Astros and Yankees — in baseball’s Fall 4.
“That’s one of the most incredible victories I’ve ever been part of,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Under the circumstances, in the other team’s ballpark, after a tough loss at home [in Game 4], to come back and do that, give our guys all the credit in the world.”
Addison Russell had four RBIs, hitting a pair of clutch run-scoring doubles, to spark the Cubs, who will be making their third straight trip to the LCS. Their resilience was tested by the Nationals.
“I would say this is the most fun I’ve had playing in a baseball game, and it ranks right up there with winning the World Series,” Russell said.
“We knew at the start of the series, the start of the postseason, Joe talks about how there’s going to be moments where things aren’t going your way,” Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward said. “It’s not so important that you keep them from happening as how you’re going to respond to them. You know they’re going to happen at some point. We had a few of those moments tonight, but we don’t dwell on them. We go to the next moment, focus on the next pitch, then we get back at it and believe we’re going to find a way.”
It was a whirlwind of a winner-take-all game, and extended into the wee hours of Friday the 13th. There were big home runs by the Nationals’ Michael A. Taylor and Daniel Murphy, starting pitchers used in relief, closers going extended innings, and a huge pickoff.