By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Cubs manager Joe Maddon was given every chance to remain in the dugout for the conclusion of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
He was more focused on going down fighting for his team and getting his message across on what he considered a baseball injustice.
In the eighth inning of his team’s tense 3-2 win against the Dodgers in Game 4 that staved off elimination, Maddon was ejected for the second time in this NLCS. This time, he was set off by the umpires overturning what initially had been ruled a strikeout of Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson, who swung through a low knuckle curveball from Cubs closer Wade Davis with two strikes. After Granderson and the Dodgers complained that he’d foul tipped it, the umpiring crew conferred and changed the call, which was non-reviewable.
That sent Maddon storming out onto the field as Davis labored through a long inning en route to an eventual six-out save. He voiced his anger at just about every member of the six-person crew before finally getting tossed. Throughout the rant, the Cub showcased the replay on the video board that made it clear the final ruling was incorrect.
Granderson ended up striking out on the next pitch after Maddon retreated to the clubhouse. Maddon vented postgame anyway after his on-field rage.
“If Granderson hits the next one out, I may run out of the clubhouse in my jock strap,” Maddon said. “It was really that bad. You can’t permit that to happen. The process was wrong. The explanation was eventually — eventually — it turned into hearing two sounds.
“Not one of them saw a foul tip or thought it was a foul tip. It was based on two sounds. I totally cannot agree with that process whatsoever. When you have 40,000-something people, it’s late in the game. The other sound could’ve come from some lady screaming in the first row. I have no idea. But I can’t buy that process.
“There’s no way – no way – I’m not getting ejected at that point. I got to make my point.”
Contreras backed Maddon.
“The ball never lies, so he struck out the next pitch,” Contreras said.
Maddon’s rant came after he made the bold move to go to Davis in the top of the eighth inning with a 3-1 lead, asking him to save the Cubs’ season. Trust in the bullpen has been lost during a postseason of struggles, so Maddon gambled that Davis could get the job done.
After allowing a solo homer to Justin Turner to cut the deficit to 3-2, Davis escaped the eighth inning with two Dodgers on by striking out Chase Utley. After walking Chris Taylor with one out in the ninth, he forced likely NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger into a 4-6-3 double play.
With the season hanging in the balance, Maddon managed like there was no tomorrow, and now there will be no tomorrow for Davis. After throwing 48 pitches – including 17 to earn the first of six outs – Davis is unavailable for Game 5 at Wrigley Field on Thursday, Maddon said. If the Cubs have a late lead, they’ll have to find somebody else for the save.
The Cubs’ bullpen is fresh aside from Davis, with Brian Duensing the only other reliever to work in Game 4. He faced one batter and threw just two pitches. This means that Duensing, Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Mike Montgomery and John Lackey are all available.
If Maddon’s bold moves from Wednesday are any indication, the Cubs could even turn to an available starter to force a flight out to Los Angeles for Game 6.
On this night, Maddon and the Cubs with a hard-fought win. After three games of lifeless baseball, the Cubs came out swinging back at the Dodgers. The energy in the ballpark was electric, building a palpable tension as Davis fought for those final outs.
As Davis made his manager’s bet a winner, Maddon watched from the clubhouse in his jockstrap as the Cubs survived to play another day.