roll into NLCS
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[October 13, 2016]
The Sports Xchange
Even the loss to the San Francisco
Giants was exhilarating for Cubs manager Joe Maddon. After Chicago's
historic send-off in San Francisco ended the National League
Division Series, the Cubs are back home and four wins from reaching
the World Series.
"I think as a group, obviously, it's two years in a row now that
we're getting to this particular level," Maddon said after the Cubs
rallied for four runs in the ninth inning of Game 4 to beat the
Giants 6-5. "I think it validates on a lot of different levels the
job that we have done to this point.
"I think if you're a player on this particular team within the
organization, it's getting to the point now you want to expect to
get to the postseason and you want to expect to get deeply into the
postseason. It also speaks to the way we played. After the game,
even on the mound there taking the photographs, the guys were
chanting 'We don't quit, we don't quit.'"
Left-hander Jon Lester is likely to make his 16th career playoff
start in Game 1 of the NLCS. He won Game 1, 1-0 over the Giants, to
open the playoffs for the Cubs. This is the fourth consecutive
season ending in the postseason for Lester, who started one game for
the Oakland Athletics in 2014 and four with the Red Sox in 2013.
Lester was 0-2 in the postseason for the Cubs in 2015.
Maddon and the Cubs have two days to restore themselves while the
Nationals and Dodgers fight for the right to open the NLCS at
Wrigley Field on Saturday.
The Cubs are heavy favorites after leading baseball in wins during
the regular season and slaying the seemingly immortal Giants, who
had won 11 consecutive playoff elimination games. Expectations are
not to be viewed as extra weight in Maddon's clubhouse.
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"We love it," Maddon said following Chicago's 106th win this season.
"Expectations is a good word. Because normally it means that you
have something good attached to it at the other side. Pressure
expectations, I want our guys to thrive on those two words for the
years to come, I want the organization to. In the end that means
there's a lot of expected of you. Good. There should be. We should
all have a lot expected of us. And then it should be it should
manifest itself in the sense that it should bring out the best you."
Maddon worked closely with Dodgers team president Andrew Friedman,
who ran the front office when Maddon managed the Tampa Bay Rays, but
he denied having any preference of opponent in the next round.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "Because when you start worrying about
who you're going to play, it could bite you. Because it really
shouldn't matter. We played both groups this year. We played
decently against both. It's a different time of the year. So, again,
I really don't. I'm just happy to be in the dance."
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