By Bruce Levine–
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) — The use of closer Aroldis Chapman will be an interesting focal point for the Cubs in Game 4 of the National League Divisional Series on Tuesday night after manager Joe Maddon rolled the dice Monday on a six-out save opportunity that failed to work in an eventual 13-inning loss to the Giants.
With the Cubs leading 3-2 entering the bottom of the eighth in Game 3, Travis Wood allowed a lead-off single to Brandon Belt in a lefty-lefty matchup. Maddon then brought on Hector Rondon to face Buster Posey in a righty-righty matchup, and Posey drew a walk. Chapman then came on and two batters later gave up a go-ahead two-run triple to Conor Gillaspie.
“I was hoping not (to need him for six outs),” Maddon said after the loss that was a classic game. “I liked Woody verses Belt. He got a hit.Rondon on Posey was a better matchup with what’s going on with Chapman verses Posey lately. So I liked that too.”
Maddon also liked the Chapman-Gillaspie matchup.
“Give Gillespie credit, man,” Maddon said. “He did it a couple of days ago (beating the Mets with a home run in the wild-card game). He got an elevated fastball and hit it to the far park of the ballpark.”
Maddon may be faced with a similar situation Tuesday as the Cubs look to close the series. When will it be too early to bring in the atomic-armed Chapman? After throwing 20 pitches and having to come out due to retiring only one batter, will there be collateral damage? What will the mentality be in the way of confidence for Chapman?
Maddon has never relied too much on past failures in determining his direction going forward.
“Honestly, I believe our boys will be fine,” Maddon said. “(Chapman) only threw 20 pitches. Wood had minimum work. Mike (Montgomery) is definitely out. Rondon and (Pedro) Strop are good. They are all good except Montgomery.”
The Cubs will start right-hander John Lackey, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 27. That period of almost two weeks off could be a positive or negative in his command and endurance in Game 4.
Winning a postseason game on the road against an NL West foe has never been accomplished by a Cubs team. They’re 0-10 lifetime in such games against the Giants (0-4), Padres (0-3), Diamondbacks (0-2) and Dodgers (0-1).
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.