By Chris Emma—
CHICAGO (CBS) — In the long history of baseball, only one team has ever come back from a 3-0 postseason deficit. It was the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who reeled off four straight victories to stun the rival Yankees in the American League Championship Series en route to a World Series championship.
With the Red Sox trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning in that ALCS Game 4, Dave Roberts boldly stole second base and scored the tying run, setting the historic comeback in motion.
Roberts is now managing a Dodgers team that leads the Cubs, 3-0, in the National League Championship Series. His group is now looking to win that one final game to advance on to the World Series, while the Cubs have their sights set on four straight victories.
“That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Roberts said with a smirk and wink prior to Game 4 on Wednesday. “It was a special group. It was a very lax group, but professional. Obviously, we were written off. But we did a good job of trying to focus on that game at hand and not getting ahead of ourselves.
“But it also takes some luck involved, too, because if you look back at that series, there were a lot of plays and things that could’ve gone a different way that went in our favor.
“To win four straight games was tough. It took a special team.”
The Cubs have overcome obstacles of their own, including a 3-1 deficit against the Indians to win the World Series last fall. They had similar struggles at the plate against the Dodgers in the 2016 NLCS before prevailing in six games.
But this team has appeared to be worn down. The Cubs had to battle by the Nationals in a five-game slugfest of a series to even reach this round, while the Dodgers have yet to lose this postseason. After sweeping the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers watched and waited for their opponent.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was willing to admit that the cumulative effect of three postseasons and bouts with adversity this year have taken a toll on his team but also added that his team won’t concede anything against the Dodgers.
When the Cubs trailed 3-0 to the Mets in the 2015 NLCS, they called upon Kevin Millar – he of the 2004 Red Sox – for a pregame pep talk that didn’t bring the desired result. The 2016 Cubs resorted to speeches from team leaders like David Ross and Jason Heyward en route to the World Series title.
Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana, who’s slated to start a potential Game 5 at Wrigley Field, said Wednesday that veterans like Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jon Jay were among those offering words of encouragement upon arrival to the ballpark before Game 4.
As he looked around the clubhouse, Quintana said he could see there was no panic in his teammates’ eyes.
“We have a really good team, a lot of talent and we can do it,” Quintana said. “One game at a time.”