After scuffling with the bats the past two games, the Chicago Cubs came alive in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. The 10-2 victory tied up the series at 2-2. Cubs manager Joe Maddon spoke about his team after the game.
Q. Your club scuffled for two games scoring runs, and then you put the best defensive team you could on the field. It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it?
JOE MADDON: Yeah. That’s our team. You saw our team out there today. We scuffled in the beginning there. How about the bunt gets the whole thing rolling by your No. 4 hitter? How unlikely is that? We do that, Baez works a great at-bat, Contreras works a great at-bat. Heyward does what he needs to do, grounder to second. And then Addison got back to normal right there. So it’s contagious, just like the lack of it is contagious. When you start hitting, it’s contagious, defense, this whole game really follows itself, kind of. So I liked the team on the field. That’s the team that got all those wins this year, so I was very comfortable with it.
Q. Knowing that Rizzo and Russell have been such a big part of your offense all year, seeing each of them with three hits tonight, couple home runs and couple RBIs, does that give you the faith that this could be enough to break them out of it and get whatever weight was on their shoulders off?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. It should help their confidence, there’s no question about that. When you going through the moment they were, it’s a confidence issue. It always is. So going into tomorrow, I know when they show up at the ballpark, there’s going to be a good balance about them. Probably going to see the ball better, slow things down a little bit. Those kind of buzzwords that you’re always looking for when a guy starts swinging the bat well. But, yeah, more than anything, it’s about confidence, and I want to believe they’re going to show up tomorrow with a lot more confidence than they showed up with today.
Q. Can you talk about Mike Montgomery coming in with the bases loaded, getting out with minimal damage, and also helping himself in that sixth inning?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, actually, if he just gets his glove out of the way, he gets out of the inning. But he did a great job. The strikeout, Seager’s great ground ball, Turner, then eventually he escapes with no more runs. That was obviously very, very big for us. I want to leave in — as long as the score’s 5-2, he’s going to hit. There is no way to double-switch. I’m not going to double-switch at that point, and, yes, that’s a big knock to left field for him. Then, again, it opened up afterwards. But the pitching, getting him in there in that moment, once John walked two guys, John doesn’t normally walk people like that. So in comes Utley, Seager, Turner, Gonzalez, third time around. Again, it’s not like, you know, middle of June. It’s just you’ve got to play a little bit different from the pitching perspective. So we did, and it worked out.
Q. You had said you really wanted to score first tonight. How big were those two outs on the bases, the pickoff of Turner and then Heyward’s throw, and that appeal? And how did you see the appeal?
JOE MADDON: Just like you did, it was awkward. We thought that they may have called him safe. We really did. But I don’t know if it came down to it, but it’s that whole hovering over the top, you can’t tell whether that hand was over the top of the plate or not, and I think that’s what they had to go by. Because we’ve had it go against us at other times this year where it looked obvious to us one way and then it came out another. So it’s what it is. And how about Contreras’ pick at second? That was very large with Gonzalez hitting right there. It put a whole different feel or look on the game. He had himself quite a game behind the plate.
He’s a weapon. He’s a weapon, the way he throws the baseball. He’s not afraid. You could see. He’s fearless. The tag, just jumped out there, got a piece of Gonzalez, and then the pick at second. He had himself a pretty good night.
Q. You said it’s not the middle of June. You have to have a difference from a pitching perspective. Why doesn’t that go for a lineup when it’s struggling at this time of the year to be more kind of dynamic and just say, hey, this guy’s 1 for something, I’ve got to change it or something?
JOE MADDON: I think with that you just don’t have as many options, I would say. The guys that we had on the field tonight probably had the most at-bats. If you really break it down, probably best opportunity, in my mind’s eye. Now you could make an argument maybe for one guy, possibly. But, otherwise, this is our best lineup. We’ve had 103 wins. This is our lineup that got us to that particular juncture. We had two tough nights. So what? I can’t overreact for two tough nights. We changed it up a little bit yesterday.
Part of it is I want to keep Soler solvent regarding pinch-hitting, and he got his chance again to pinch-hit tonight. He had three at-bats. I think it was three yesterday. But basically is, I think, when it comes down to manipulation of the game or bullpen, when you’re talking about your bullpen, these guys are used to doing a whole bunch of different things daily, and they’re always involved. They just might have a different time of the game to be involved with right now.
Position players, I mean, Addison’s arguably one of the best shortstops in the league. Baez at second base. I don’t know why you would really necessarily want to. If you had more position players possibly. Like if the roster was larger, you might consider something like that, but these are your guys and they showed up tonight.
Q. Back to that bunt by Ben in the fourth. Is that something you guys talked about before the at-bat or was that just a head’s up play?
JOE MADDON: It’s always best when Manny does something extemporaneously. Whenever I give him a sign, it never works. So I’m glad he thought of it on his own.
Q. Just about Edwards, Jr., coming out of the game?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, it could have been a cramp. We’re not 100% sure yet. It wasn’t anything awful. I just talked to our trainer, and we’ve got to wait until tomorrow to see how he reacts to it. Talking to him in the clubhouse he described it as being less than mild. So hopefully it was just a cramp, and we’ll reevaluate tomorrow.
Q. Just kind of big picture on the series now. It’s two out of three, and you look at the pitchers that are lined up to pitch on both sides. What should anybody expect from here?
JOE MADDON: What you’ve seen so far. It’s been a pretty interesting series to this point. I did not expect it to be such a lopsided victory for us today. Although they had theirs yesterday. Moving forward, Jon, and then Kershaw waiting in the wings. Like I said, it’s two out of three right now. We know it’s at least going back home at some point. Tomorrow will be a pretty nice day to come out on top and going back home, having to win one of two. We’ve been pretty good at Wrigley all year. So, it’s just an interesting baseball series, man. I think it’s great. I think it’s great for baseball. I’ve talked about this the other day. I think if you’re looking to garner new fans, this is a great venue for that. Kids are watching on TV, and it’s very exciting. It’s very exciting stuff.