Cubs advance to NLCS 2017, full game schedule released

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The Cubs released their full NLCS schedule Friday night. They will play against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday at 8:08 p.m. in Game 1. (WLS)

The Chicago Cubs win whenever they need to, with whatever it takes, even a seven-out save by Wade Davis to preserve a shrinking lead and a "Did that really happen?" four-run inning against Washington's Max Scherzer in a thriller of a Game 5.

The Cubs released their full NLCS schedule Friday night. They will play against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday at 8:08 p.m. in Game 1. Game 2 will be Sunday at 7:38 p.m. Game 3 will be held Tuesday at Wrigley Field at 8:01 p.m. Central Time. Game 4 will be Wednesday at 8:01 p.m. also at Wrigley, 7:08 p.m. if the American League Championship Series is finished.



If needed, Game 5 will be at Wrigley Field on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 7:08 p.m.. Games 6 and 7, if needed, will be played in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 3:08 p.m. and Sunday Oct. 22 at 6:38 p.m.



On the eve of NLCS Game 1 fans are relishing the moment. Many went to Wrigley Field to snap their playoff selfies.

"Triumphant is what it feels like, especially after last night's game. It was awesome to see them pull it out in the end," said Jeremy Schambach, fan.

The Cubs' thrilling win had fans on their feet and Wrigleyville elated that they're one step closer to the dance. But does this team have the moves to get past the Dodgers?

"The Cubs are resilient. They keep battling back, and you think they're done, and they keep hanging in there," said Patrick Walsh, Cubs fan. Walsh is flying to Los Angeles to see the NLCS games there, and was decked out in Cubbie blue.

Clark Street Sports is now selling NLDS winning gear, Fly the W t-shirts and Take 17 hats. The cap and shirts the team wore after the clinch are now a hot seller. At Sportsworld, they're already looking ahead at World Series gear.

"They're designed. They're ordered. The product's in place. And the clothing, if it gets close enough, is going to be flown to Chicago and bring it here," said Brad Rosen, Sportsworld Chicago.

The NLCS will be a battle between two baseball capitals, the City of Angels versus the City of Broad Shoulders. They've got the ocean; we've got the lake. They've got smog, we've got snow. They've got Magic, we've got Michael.

Both cities are proud of their boys in blue.

"I think our hitting and our talent is going to overcome those Dodgers. It's all about who's hot in October, and we're hot," said Cubs fan Andrew Sullivan.

For the many more fans staying in town for the beginning of the NLCS, bars in Wrigleyville are preparing for crowds.

"We'll make sure there is plenty of beer and we're ready to go," said Freddy Fagenholz of Murphy's Bleachers.

Fans are hoping their boys in blue will get past the Dodgers once again.

"I think they go all the way. I think they can go all the way," said fan Bill Tedmman.

Friendly wagers have already been made between Chicago and Los Angeles in anticipation of the NLCS. Bunoa Beef, the official Italian Beef of the Cubs and White Sox, and Phillippe's, the original French Dip and beloved Los Angeles establishment, laid down their bets Friday. If the Cubs win the series, Phillip's will foot the bill for Buona to feed Italian Beef to 200 people at Lurie Children's Hospital on behalf of the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. If the Dodgers win, Buona will pay to feed 200 people to enjoy Philippe's French Dip at Union Rescue Mission.

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The Chicago Cubs private charter flight to Los Angeles was diverted to Albuquerque Friday because a player's family member had a "health issue."



The Cubs 'private charter flight to Los Angeles was diverted to Albuquerque Friday because a player's family member had a "health issue." All Cubs players were are on that plane and are fine. The Cubs arrived in Los Angeles after a delay.

INSTANT REPLAY TAKES CENTER STAGE IN NLDS GAME 5

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Instant replay is relatively new to baseball.



The Washington Nationals had a rally in the eighth inning with the potential of tying or taking the lead. But the inning ended when the instant replay overturned a call that was considered non-controversial when Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to use one of his challenges. Now many are asking if the replay is good for baseball.

The instant replay is only three years old in Major League Baseball, and it played a key role in last night's game. Anthony Rizzo picked off the National's Jose Lobaton on a throw from Willson Contreras. The umpire ruled it safe, but upon review the call was overturned, ending the inning and the Nationals' momentum.

"Last night it boiled down to the most minute millimeter, was his foot on the bag, off the bag, was the tag on," said David Kaplan of ESPN 1000.

With a play so minute, the talk in the world of sports Friday is did last night's call violate the spirit of the instant replay. In 2014, baseball implemented the technology to prevent a game turning on an egregious call.

"Whether that was the intent when all of this started, look, to me the intent was always we have to get the plays right in the playoffs when the stakes are high, and they got it right," said Carmen DeFalco, ESPN 1000.

With a call that helped the Cubs, fans are all for the instant replay.

"I love it, I think it reveals the truth of the play, it gives the advantage of both teams the truth of what happened," said Shane Radtke, Cubs fan.

"Technology is getting stronger and better. Any wayh you can get the W, I'll take it," said Ronald Peoples, Cubs fan.

But will fans like it when technology calls balls and strikes?

"We have to leave something to the human. The next thing you know it will be all robots playing the sports," one fan said.

GAME 5 WAS A WILD RIDE FOR CUBS AND NATIONALS ALIKE

That wild, bat-around fifth inning Thursday night for Chicago included Addison Russell's go-ahead, two-run double, a bases-loaded hit by pitch, and a disputed dropped third strike followed by a throwing error, helping the defending World Series champion Cubs come back - and then hold on - to edge the Nationals 9-8.

And for the third year in a row, Chicago reached the NL Championship Series.

"Give the boys credit," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's one of the most incredible victories I've ever been part of. I know a lot of people are probably saying the same thing, but under the circumstances, in the other team's ballpark, after a tough loss at home, to come back and do that, give our guys all the credit in the world."

Russell drove in four runs and Davis, Chicago's seventh pitcher, turned in his longest appearance since 2012.

"I've always known he's got a lot of mettle in his soul," Ben Zobrist, who scored two runs for Chicago, said about Davis. "The guy just shows up. He's got ice in his veins."

The same could be said for all of the Cubs.

They trailed 4-1, then led 8-4 and 9-6, in a game that lasted more than 4 hours and ended after midnight on Friday.

"It was 'Bizarro World,' there's no question about it," Maddon said. "But it happens. It happens this time of the year."

Catcher Willson Contreras picked off Jose Lobaton at first base to quash a Washington threat in the eighth and Davis fanned a swinging Bryce Harper for the final out.

"Just trying to stay focused and confident in the end," Davis said.

Chicago, which surpassed its total of eight runs from the first four games of the NL Division Series, advanced to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will start ace Clayton Kershaw at home in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night.

For Maddon and the Cubs, this was their fourth consecutive victory in a win-or-be-eliminated postseason game. That includes three straight to end the 2016 World Series, when Chicago trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1 before forcing a Game 7 won by the Cubs in 10 innings.
The Nationals, meanwhile, went one-and-done yet again: This is the fourth time in the past six years that the club won the NL East and immediately lost its opening playoff series. And this is the third time in that span that Washington bowed out with a Game 5 NLDS loss at home; that also happened in 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals and last year against the Dodgers.

This one was played exactly five years to the day after the decider against the Cardinals, which the Nationals lost 9-7 in Washington. Just like that night, the Nationals started Gio Gonzalez. Just like that night, Washington raced out to an early lead (6-0 back then). And just like that night, Gonzalez had control problems and started giving back some of the edge.

"It was a series of bad events," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "It really hurts, you know, to lose like that, especially after what we went through all year long, and that was tough."



Homers by Daniel Murphy and Michael A. Taylor - whose grand slam off Davis backed Stephen Strasburg's 12-strikeout masterpiece in Washington's 5-0 victory in Game 4 at Wrigley Field on Wednesday - gave the hosts a 4-1 lead in the second against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks.

But Gonzalez gave back two of those runs, so it was 4-3 as two-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer entered for the fifth. He started Game 3 of this series, pushed back because of an injured right hamstring, and hadn't come out of the bullpen since 2013 with the Detroit Tigers.

"Huge. You look out there and you see Scherzer up there and you think, 'One of the best, if not the best, pitcher out there on the mound," Russell said. "You kind of have to change your game plan, your approach."

By the time Scherzer's one inning was over, the Cubs had taken a 7-4 lead, and Russell had delivered the biggest hit. Chicago scored two earned runs and two unearned runs, on the strength of three hits, one hit by pitch, one intentional walk, a catcher's interference, and one very odd play.

What could have been a potentially inning-ending strikeout turned into a run, as Javier Baez swung and missed, but the ball went under catcher Matt Wieters' glove and through his legs. When Wieters collected the ball, he threw it into right field for an error, then appeared to argue that the play should have been ruled over because Baez's follow-through carried the bat into the catcher's mask.

"This game's cruel sometimes," Scherzer said. "Just the way things can happen."

The play was not reviewable under the challenge rules.
"When the ball gets past him," plate umpire and crew chief Jerry Layne said, "in my judgment he didn't have any more opportunity after he had a chance to field the ball. There was no further play that could have been made on it."

"The graze of the helmet didn't have anything to do, in my judgment, with anything at all, with that particular play," he said. "I got together and found everybody was in agreement. That's what we went with."

Russell made it 8-4 in the sixth on an RBI double when left fielder Jayson Werth tried to make a sliding catch but whiffed.

Werth said he lost the ball in the lights.

"It feels," he said, summing up the night for Washington, "like if it could go wrong, it did."

The lead was 9-6 when Washington got one run in the seventh on Harper's sacrifice fly, and one in the eighth on Taylor's RBI single.

But the Nationals wasted some opportunities. In the eighth, with two on and no outs, pinch-hitter Adam Lind hit into a double play. Later in that inning, again with two men aboard, Lobaton was nailed by Contreras' snap throw for the third out - Lobaton was originally ruled safe, a call that was overturned on replay.

In the seventh, Ryan Zimmerman was up as the go-ahead run with two men on, but Davis struck him out. That was part of an 0 for 4, three-K night for the first baseman who had a resurgent season, leading the Nationals with 36 homers and 108 RBIs.

That season is over for him and his team. The Cubs, though, will play on.

"We've been through it. And in those situations, we tend to start believing we're going to get the job done," Zobrist said, "even if it doesn't look like we are."

NLCS ticket prices

Cubs fans were recuperating Friday morning after a nail-biting Game 5.

"A little bit of everything - I had a semi stroke," said Paul Vaickus, a Cubs fan who was a bit stressed during Thursday night's game.

Some fans picked up new merchandise before hunkering down to cheer the Cubbies through the NLCS, which begins Saturday at Dodger Stadium in L.A.

"I think we have to have good energy, be positive, so they can do it again," said Natalia Ladzinska, another Cubs fan.

Planning on going? Tickets on StubHub start at $110 for Saturday's game. Ticket prices jump up to $200 a seat for Tuesday's game in Chicago.

"Haven't looked. Will definitely check out the ole 'StubHubber' and see what they got," Vaickus said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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