SAN FRANCISCO - What was evening eventually turned to morning. Hope that was found was then lost, found again then a few hours later was gone.
It started around 8:30 PM and finished around 1:30 AM. No playoff game in franchise history had so many innings. Contained within this time were a few standout moments that could end up living in Chicago baseball lore.
As history would have, perhaps with a sense of irony, the Cubs would lose one of their most epic postseason games in team history. The Giants walked off the Cubs in the 13th inning on a Joe Panik double that bounced off the high wall in right-center field to drive in the sixth and deciding run.
"Good baseball game. That's my takeaway. I think that both sides should be somewhat exhilarated," said the always insightful Joe Maddon after the defeat. "Obviously they win, so they're going to feel a bit better about it, but there's nothing on our side to be ashamed of.
"I was really proud of our kids, man."
In fact it was the kids that helped the Cubs to play their longest postseason game in team history. Thirteen innings bested their previous high of 12 which was tied twice in their history. The last was Game 6 of the 1945 World Series in which the Cubs forced a deciding Game 7 with an 8-7 victory over the Tigers. It would end up being their last playoff win for 39 years as the team lost the final game of the series to Detroit.
An even deeper connection to this game was the other contest that went 12 innings - Game 1 of the 1907 World Series against the Tigers. Played on the West Side Grounds, the contest extended into the 12th and was tied at three before being called on the account of darkness. Instead of starting the game from that point on another day, the game was declared a tie and the Cubs went on to win the next four games. It was the only time the Cubs have been in a playoff series where they failed to lose a game.
Maddon's young players almost made the team's first true sweep happen thanks to a couple of major plays in the ninth inning. Kris Bryant was the first as he bailed the team out after a miserable eighth inning in which a one-run lead turned into a two-run deficit. It wasn't the farthest homer the third baseman has ever hit but it had just enough to hit a car advertisement in left and bounce into the stands for a game-tying homer.
Rookie Albert Almora helped the Cubs push the game to extra innings by saving a sure run with his glove. With one out and Brandon Belt on first Buster Posey slapped one to right field that would test the outfielders range. The liner shot quickly out to left but Almora managed to track it down and snag the fly while having the presence of mind to throw to first and double up Belt, who sprinted around the bases thinking it was a sure hit.
"It was the highlight of my career so far," said Almora of the catch. "Just trying to help the team win like I always said."
It appeared early in the game that such heroics wouldn't be necessary thanks to some power from Jake Arrieta. It didn't come from his right arm but rather his bat as the Cubs broke up an impressive streak of opposing pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Arrieta smacked a three-run homer to left in the second that snapped the pitcher's 24 scoreless inning streak in Giants elimination games.
That lead would hold up until the 8th when Aroldis Chapman gave up a two-run double to Conor Gillaspie and then a RBI single to Brandon Crawford to turn a one-run lead into a two-run deficit. Panik had the biggest blow about two hours later with his walk-off double that keeps the NLDS going for at least another day.
"Obviously you want to win that game, you had it right there, you had your good guys, your best guys in there, everything seemed to be lining up properly and you didn't win. That's just the baseball game," said Maddon. "And you got to give them credit. You got to give them credit, man. They kept fighting. And you knew that they would."
Now the Cubs want to try to make history in a more desirable way on Tuesday evening.