THE CUBTOBER DIARY: It’s not a ‘Must Win,’ but….
CHICAGO – Judging by their playoff run in 2016, their regular season run in 2017, and their National League Division Series last week, panic isn’t the Cubs’ thing.
One game back, two games back, not much is going to get the team going on the negative end.
Hence the loss of the first two games of the National League Championship Series to the Dodgers hasn’t created much of a negative stir in the clubhouse, starting with the pitcher who’ll try to cut the deficit in half tonight.
“Not really. I don’t think — our team doesn’t really approach games like that,” said Hendricks when asked about Tuesday’s Game 3 being a must win. “You hear the way Joe speaks about it. For us, this is just Game 170, I think it’s going to be. So, yeah, we’re down 2-0. Obviously we know we need to get wins at this point.
“But approaching it as a must-win is a little extreme.”
Perhaps, but history would say otherwise. Hence this series could be another way to get rid of another piece of the Cubs’ bad playoff past.
This marks the 9th time that the Cubs have been in a playoff series which they’ve trailed 2-0. Not only have they lost the previous eight series for most times they’ve gotten eliminated with the minimum amount of games. That includes the 1932 and 1938 World Series, the 1998, 2007, and 2008 NLDS along with the 2015 NLCS.
In the 1910 and 1929 World Series against the Philadelphia A’s, the Cubs were able to squeeze out a victory but ended up losing the series in five games.
Dismissing history has been the mantra of this Cubs’ team, but in order to do that they’ve got to hit the ball. This series the team has its three runs on two swings – a two-run homer by Albert Almora Jr in Game 1 and a solo shot by Addison Russell in Game 2. Other than that, the Cubs have been ineffective against the Dodgers and their bullpen, whom they’ve yet to get a run off so far in two games.
Outside of a wild Game 5 last Thursday in the NLDS, Hendricks doesn’t need much run support at all to pick up a win. In his four previous games in the playoffs before then, Hendricks allowed just a single earned run. Oddly enough, that came against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field in a hard-luck 1-0 loss to Clayton Kershaw.
Hendricks returned the favor by shutting out the Dodgers in Game 6 to help the Cubs clinch the pennant. In that series the Cubs had the own power outage for two games before coming alive, and the pitcher’s confident they’ll do the same this year.
“It’s just another thing that’s an extraneous factor. At the end of the day, you have to focus on what you can control,” said Hendricks of the team’s slow start at the plate. “So for me, that’s just making good pitches. Our lineup, I got the utmost faith in our guys that they’re going to swing the bat well.”
Probably best for them to start now than later, as history would show.