Was this the craziest game of the MLB season?


Was this the craziest game of the MLB season?

From Comcast SportsNet
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Elvis Andrus and the Texas Rangers were not going to let the Angels beat them again -- even if they needed two improbable comebacks to win. Andrus had a game-ending two-run single in the 10th inning, and the Rangers rallied from six runs down to beat Los Angeles 11-10 on Wednesday night. "Our mentality was to win no matter what," said Andrus, who went 4 for 6 with three RBIs. "It was a great game for us." The Rangers came into this four-game series leading the Angels by five games in the American League West. Los Angeles won the first two games of the series by a combined 21-10 and were on its way to three in a row. Texas was down 7-1 in the fifth before rallying to force extra innings. The Angels scored three in the 10th inning to take a 10-7 lead before the wild finish to a game that lasted 4 hours, 1 minute. The Rangers extended their lead in the American League West to four games over the Angels and 4 12 over third-place Oakland. "We kept battling, we kept grinding and we got blessed," Texas manager Ron Washington said. Nelson Cruz homered, and Mitch Moreland singled off Jason Isringhausen (3-1) to bring the Rangers to 10-9. With the bases loaded, Andrus drove a single past third baseman Alberto Callaspo to set off a wild celebration near second base. "It was a crazy game in Texas," Isringhausen said. "I've seen a lot of them. A six-run lead is not safe." The comebacks seemed unlikely because the Texas offense struggled mightily during a 9-14 July. The Rangers scored 81 runs in the month, last in the American League. It was only the second time in Texas history the club has rallied to win after trailing by at least three in extra innings. The Rangers also did it May 18, 1975, against Detroit. "It was great to break out like this," said Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, who homered in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 7. "Hopefully we can take that into (Thursday)." Albert Pujols connected twice for his second straight multihomer game. His second home run, a two-run shot in the 10th, was one of four long balls hit between the two teams in the final two innings. Chris Iannetta also homered in the 10th for the Angels. Joe Nathan (2-3) gave up Iannetta's homer on a full-count pitch and Pujols' two-run drive but still earned the win. It was Pujols' 44th multihomer run of his career, third-most among active players. He had never had consecutive multihomer games in the regular season. Kinsler's solo shot off Ernesto Frieri with one out in the ninth forced extra innings. It was Frieri's first blown save in 13 chances. "It was a great, great game on both sides," Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said. "We got their closer, and they got our closer. It was a lot of fun. But at the same time, it broke my heart." Cruz kept the Rangers within a run in the top of the ninth when he threw out Kendrys Morales trying to score on a single to right. New acquisition Ryan Dempster will take the mound for the Rangers on Thursday night as they look to split the series against their rivals. He will face left-hander C.J. Wilson, who left Texas as a free agent in the offseason. "It was a great team effort from top to bottom," Texas' Michael Young said. "It was definitely a great win for us." Pujols had four RBIs to give him 1,400 for his career. Hunter and Callaspo each added two RBIs for Los Angeles. Yu Darvish started for the Rangers and equaled his season-high by allowing seven runs and walking six over five innings. Garrett Richards, who was starting in place of an ailing Dan Haren, gave up five runs and nine hits before he was chased with two outs in the sixth. The Angels led 7-1 before the Rangers rallied with four in the fifth and one in the eighth. David Murphy, who was 3 for 3 and reached base five times, had an RBI single in the eighth that closed the gap to 7-6. This was Texas' largest comeback since a six-run rally Aug. 13, 2010, against the Red Sox. The Angels scored six runs on only two hits in their third-inning outburst. They benefited from four walks, an error and Darvish's poor throw on a fielder's choice as 10 men came to the plate. Pujols lined a 1-1 pitch from Darvish into the Angels bullpen -- the first hit for Los Angeles in the game -- to make it 4-0. After two more walks in the third, Callaspo doubled in a pair to make it 6-0. NOTES: Rangers right-hander Neftali Feliz underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Wednesday. Team physician Dr. Keith Meister performed the operation. .... With temperatures over 100 degrees, the Angels limited their pregame work outside. Manager Mike Scioscia said his players only spent about 25 minutes outside taking fielding and batting practice, which is about 20 minutes less than average. ... After three games batting fifth, Rangers CF Josh Hamilton was moved in the third slot Wednesday and went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts.

The new Cubs are out to write their own history

The new Cubs are out to write their own history

The Cubs felt so nervous just before a 7:09 first pitch on Saturday night that Javier Baez found the camera looking into the home dugout, waved with a big smile and started pumping his fist, hamming it up for the video board as Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” blasted through the Wrigley Field sound system.

The Cubs then ran out onto the field and systematically destroyed the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending this National League Championship Series in six games with a 5-0 win that featured almost no tension or suspense, obliterating for now the narrative around this franchise.

The old stadium still kept shaking, from Kris Bryant’s RBI single in the first inning to the clapping to Anthony Rizzo’s “Intoxicated” walk-up music to a standing ovation for Kyle Hendricks, who outpitched the supposed best pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw.

“We don’t care about history,” Bryant said. “This is a completely different team, different people all around. It doesn’t matter. This is a new Chicago Cubs team. And we are certainly a very confident group.”

Sure, 1908 will hover over the entire World Series, which begins Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. But this is the new normal for Bryant, who within two years has won 200 games, four playoff rounds, a Rookie of the Year award and probably MVP hardware.

This team isn’t going away, either. With a chance to win the pennant for the first time since the Truman administration, the Cubs started two rookies who began this season at Triple-A Iowa – catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Albert Almora Jr. – in a lineup that featured Bryant (24), Rizzo (27), Baez (23), Addison Russell (22) and Hendricks (26).

Contreras caught a shutout and posed for a moment at home plate watching his line-drive homer off Kershaw fly into the left-field bleachers in the fourth inning. Rizzo – who had looked overmatched earlier in the playoffs – became the first left-handed hitter to homer off Kershaw during this calendar year.

And when Rizzo tried to wave off Baez for the ball Josh Reddick popped up to the right side of the infield in the fifth inning, Baez cut right in front of Rizzo to catch it, continuing a long-running gag among the Cubs infielders.

“I don’t think they’re oblivious, because that’s sort of insulting in some ways,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “They know the history. I just don’t think they care. They think they’re a good team and they love to play. And we have some guys that definitely shine on the big stage.”

Baez – a September call-up last year who couldn’t get an everyday spot during the regular season – showed off his bat speed and unbelievable defensive instincts and emerged as the NLCS co-MVP along with big-game pitcher Jon Lester. Sold on the idea of all this young talent someday coming together, Lester joined a last-place team after the 2014 season, taking a leap of faith, even at $155 million.

“I don’t feel like there’s pressure at all in our clubhouse,” said Almora, the first player Theo Epstein’s front office drafted here in 2012. “There’s just hunger and excitement and desire to win.

“None of us were around in 1945…so we just got to write our own history.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

This is what the Cubs have been talking about since the New York Mets swept them out of last year’s NLCS, since the Ricketts family invested almost $290 million more in free agents, since unconventional manager Joe Maddon made “Embrace The Target” the theme of spring training.

Whatever your preconceived notions of the old Cubs are, know that this group has an amazing sense of balance. They are youthful and experienced. They play as a team and with individual flair. They have style and get dirty. They are analytical and sort of oblivious. They are loose and intense. And the ending hasn’t been written yet.

“We still got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “We’ll enjoy tonight – don’t get me wrong – we’ll have a celebration. We’ll have a good time. We’ll smile, we’ll hug each other, probably get drunk a little bit…but we got some work to do.”

Kyle Hendricks outduels Clayton Kershaw and delivers legendary performance that puts Cubs in World Series

Kyle Hendricks outduels Clayton Kershaw and delivers legendary performance that puts Cubs in World Series

John Hendricks sent a text message to his son at 11:24 a.m. on Saturday: “Good luck tonight!! Remember, great mechanics and preparation will prevail. Just let it go!!” It ended with three emoji: a smiley face with sunglasses, the thumbs-up sign and a flexed biceps.

The Cubs have bonded fathers and sons for generations, and Hendricks immediately understood what it meant for his boy when the Cubs traded Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers minutes before the deadline on July 31, 2012, telling Kyle: “You win in this city, you will be a legend. There is no doubt about it. This is the greatest sports town in the United States.”

This is the intoxicating lure of the Cubs. It didn’t matter that Kyle had been an eighth-round pick out of Dartmouth College, and hadn’t yet finished his first full season in professional baseball, and would be joining an organization enduring a 101-loss season, the third of five straight fifth-place finishes.

Kyle’s low-key personality will never get him confused with an ’85 Bear, but he delivered a legendary performance in Game 6, outpitching Clayton Kershaw at the end of this National League Championship Series and leading the Cubs to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.

Five outs away from the pennant, a raucous crowd of 42,386 at Wrigley Field actually booed star manager Joe Maddon when he walked out to the mound to take the ball from Kyle and bring in closer Aroldis Chapman. Kyle, the silent assassin, did briefly raise his hand to acknowledge the standing ovation before descending the dugout steps. 

After a 5-0 win, Kyle stood in roughly the same spot with Nike goggles on his head and finally looked a little rattled, his body shivering and teeth chattering in the cold, his Cubs gear soaked from the champagne-and-beer celebration.

“It’s always been an uphill climb for me, honestly,” Kyle said. “But that really has nothing to do with getting guys out. My focus from Day 1 – even when I was young, high school, college, all the way up until now – all it’s been is trying to make good pitches. 

“And as we moved up, you just saw that good pitches get good hitters out.” 

At a time when the game is obsessed with velocity and showing off for the radar gun, Kyle knows how to pitch, putting the ball where he wants when he wants, avoiding the hot zones that lead to trouble, mixing his changeups, fastballs and curveball in an unpredictable way that takes advantage of the team’s intricate scouting system and keeps hitters completely off-balance.

“Kyle didn’t even give them any air or any hope,” general manager Jed Hoyer said.

Amid the celebration, scouting/player-development chief Jason McLeod spotted Kyle’s dad and yelled at John: “You f------ called it!” John – who once worked in the Angels ticket office and as a golf pro in Southern California – had moved to Chicago two years ago to work for his good friend’s limo company and watch his son pitch at Wrigley Field. John had told McLeod that Kyle would one day help the Cubs win a championship.

“That was one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever seen,” McLeod said. “Ever.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities] 

The media framed Kyle as The Other Pitcher, even though he won the ERA title this season, with all the pregame buzz surrounding Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. Except Kershaw gave up five runs and got knocked out after five innings, while Kyle only gave up two singles to the 23 batters he faced, finishing with six strikeouts against zero walks and looking like he had even more left in the tank at 88 pitches.

“It was incredible,” Ben Zobrist said. “That was the easiest postseason game we’ve had yet and it was the clincher to go to the World Series. 

“He’s just so good, so mature for his age. He just has a knack to put the ball where he needs to. He’s smart and he’s clutch. He deserves to win the Cy Young this year.”

Where Kershaw’s presence loomed over the entire playoffs, Kyle has always been underestimated, coming into this season as a fourth or fifth starter with something to prove, and even he didn’t see all this coming. But big-game pitchers can come in all shapes and sizes and don’t have to throw 97 mph. 

“He wants the ball,” John said. “Every big game – I don’t care if it was Little League or wherever – he wants the ball. Plain and simple, (he’ll) get the job done.”