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Cardinals vs. Cubs: Game 4 Score and Twitter Reaction from 2015 MLB Playoffs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2015

Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez (9) celebrates a three-run home run with Kyle Schwarber and Jason Hammel, right, of Game 4 in baseball's National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Paul Beaty/Associated Press

For the first time since 2003, the Chicago Cubs are in the National League Championship Series. The Wild Card Game winners booked their place in the NLCS after beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

Surprisingly, this is the first postseason series the Cubs have won at Wrigley Field, per MLB on Twitter.

In Game 3, the Cubs hit a postseason-record six home runs. They only produced half that total Tuesday night, but it proved more than enough to eliminate their division rivals.

Javier Baez got the fun started in the bottom of the second with a three-run homer that gave Chicago a 4-2 lead.

After Stephen Piscotty had put the Cardinals ahead 2-0 with a home run of his own in the first inning, Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel halved the deficit with an RBI single in the second. Baez, batting ninth in the order, stepped up to the plate next and deposited a John Lackey fastball over the right field fence:

Baseball America's Ben Badler was impressed that Baez didn't try to do too much with the pitch:    

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Ben Badler @BenBadler

That Javier Baez home run was terrific. So many young hitters would try to pull that pitch. Baez flicks it out the opposite way.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the first home run allowed by Lackey in his last 74.2 postseason innings. It was also the fifth time in 20 career playoff starts Lackey allowed four or more earned runs. The 36-year-old exited after three innings, which MLB.com's Phil Rogers saw as more evidence why pitchers should only start on full rest in the playoffs:

Phil Rogers @philgrogers

As I've said about 1 million times, starters on short rest in October always a bad bet. Lackey's 3-IP, 4-ER stint adds to that legacy.

After failing to close the gap in the next three innings, the Cardinals tied the game in the top of the sixth. Tony Cruz doubled down the right field line with two outs to score Jason Heyward and move Jhonny Peralta to third. Brandon Moss came up next and picked up a base hit to right field that plated Peralta.

Cruz attempted to score from second, but Jorge Soler's throw to Miguel Montero was right on the money to nail Cruz at the plate. While some criticized the backup catcher for getting a bit too greedy, FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan took pity on him:

Jeff Sullivan @based_ball

hard to blame Tony Cruz for sliding funny given that it wasn't until just minutes ago he found out sometimes players have to run the bases

Failing to get the go-ahead run proved devastating for the Cardinals a half-inning later after a solo home run by Anthony Rizzo put the Cubs back into the lead, 5-4.

As Fox Sports noted, watching the ball land a few rows up in the bleachers was akin to seeing "Magnum" for the first time:

FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX

.@Cubs' fans watching that @ARizzo44 home run like… #NLDS #postseason http://t.co/EpzvtOG0Hg

This Cubs fan picked the most opportune time to return to his seat, per ESPN's J.A. Adande:

J.A. Adande @jadande

Look at my man getting back from the concession stand just in time to catch Rizzo's home run. Enjoy your fries dude http://t.co/xuphfTm9WN

Kyle Schwarber added another run in the bottom of the seventh with a majestic homer that nearly cleared the massive scoreboard in right field. Chandler Parrish, who was in attendance at the game, provided photographic evidence of the ball's final resting place:

Chandler Parrish @Chandyparrish

SCHWARBER Home Run is stuck up there http://t.co/ZjOi99ztOj

The Cubs may know their NLCS opponents in just a few hours. The New York Mets have a 2-1 series lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Game 4 of that series started at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday night.

Neither team provides a favorable matchup for Chicago. Both the Mets and Dodgers have strong pitching staffs, which is often a trump card in the postseason. New York has strength in depth, while Los Angeles' one-two punch of Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw is the best of the playoffs.

Cubs fans do have to feel good, however, about the fact so many of their team's young stars are playing well in October. Sometimes, the stage can be too big for hitters making their postseason debuts. But Schwarber, Soler, Baez, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant are all relishing the occasion.

The Cubs' continued slugging also goes against the notion that a reliance on home runs dooms teams in the playoffs.

You also have to love manager Joe Maddon's handling of his pitching staff. He isn't afraid to yank his starter at the slightest hint of trouble. Hammel pitched just three innings Tuesday, while Jake Arrieta went 5.2 innings in Game 3. Between the two games, Maddon made 12 pitching changes.

You can't argue with the results, judging by this tweet from ESPN Stats & Info:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Cardinals have struck out 13 times in back-to-back games, something that didn't happened all regular season.

The Cubs fanbase is a superstitious bunch, so it likely won't look ahead to the World Series. And the Mets or Dodgers won't go down easily in the NLCS.

But Chicago has a great chance of advancing to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1945 and possibly ending its over century-long title drought.

Postgame Reaction

Despite the loss, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny remained satisfied with how everything played out, per JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago:

JJ Stankevitz @JJStankevitz

Mike Matheny: "I have no regrets with this club." Told team postgame he was proud of their season (100 wins).

Lackey spoke about his start and how he wished he could have that three-run home run by Baez back, per Fox Sports Midwest:

FOX Sports Midwest @FSMidwest

John Lackey had better stuff in Game 4 loss than he did in his Game 1 win. But he'd like one pitch back. #STLCards https://t.co/i4cHY61hJM

Meanwhile, the positivity hovering around Chicago won't subside anytime soon. After the game, Maddon admitted he's letting his players savor this victory a little longer than normal, per ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski:

Gene Wojciechowski @GenoEspn

Joe Maddon says he has a 30-minute celebration rule before moving on to next game. In this case, rules meant to be broken.

"The fans have been starving for a moment like this," he added in his postgame press conference, per Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times. "I never realized all the firsts we accomplished this year."

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