By Ryan Decker
PSA: The city of Chicago and the Cubs organization would like to ask anyone who owns Billy goats to put them inside tonight before the Cubs and Dodgers take the field for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
Chicago has their backs up against the wall in the postseason series that has given the Cubs the most trouble.
After Jake Arrieta couldn’t give the Cubs the series lead Tuesday night in Game 3, which ended in a 6-0 victory for the Dodgers, John Lackey‘s start tonight in Game 4 may be the most important start in franchise history.
Game 4 is a must-win for the Cubs.
The history is well known.
Chicago hasn’t won a World Series since 1908, making for the longest championship drought in North American sports history. The Cubs haven’t even appeared in the Fall Classic since 1945 – three years prior to the Cleveland Indians last title; 43 years before the Dodgers last championship.
Whether it’s the curse of the billy goat, the black cat crossing the Cubs’ path, a fan about to reach into the field of play, or something new all together, history says the Cubs aren’t in good shape.
That’s not just long-term history either. We’re talking developing news from this postseason.
Game 4 is such a must-win because of the pitcher that Los Angeles has waiting to throw whenever they want.
You may have heard of him. His name’s Clayton Kershaw.
Sure Kershaw hasn’t had the best luck in the playoffs in years past, but this postseason he’s been what baseball fans have been hoping (or fearing) he could be since he broke into the league.
This October Kershaw is 2-0 in four appearances, including a save in the final game of the NLDS.
Most recently, he held the Cubs to just two hits in a seven-inning shutout performance in Game 2 in Chicago. Kershaw likely could’ve went even longer, only throwing 84 pitches, but Kenley Jansen was called for the two-inning save.
Young pitcher Julio Urias takes the mound for the Dodgers tonight in Game 4. If he and the LA pitching staff can continue to keep the Cubs in check for another nine innings Wednesday night, this series is effectively over.
A 3-1 series lead for the Dodgers would automatically give Kershaw the start in Game 5.
Kershaw. Elimination game. At home. Cubs history.
Even if Kershaw isn’t has sharp as he was Sunday night in Chicago, it’ll be all hands on deck for the Dodgers pitching staff. The goal is to give Jansen the lead in the eighth or ninth innings to clinch the game and the pennant.
Both teams have to get to Game 5 in that order for any of this to matter, though.
Urias needs to win Game 4 nearly as much as Lackey does.
For the Cubs it’s a must-win. For the Dodgers it’s a “you-should-probably-win”.