The New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs will face off tonight in the final game of their three-game series at Wrigley Field in Chicago. In what many people are starting to believe could be an early World Series preview, the Yankees have dominated the Cubs in the first two games of their three-game set.
In Game 1 of the series the Yankees had three times more hits than the Cubs, yet heading into the 9th inning, Chicago led 2-0. With two outs and two men on base, Brett Gardner smashed a 3-run homer giving the New York Yankees a 3-2 lead at the time and which they held onto to get the win. Gardner was more than excited running the bases after the go-ahead home run.
“I was fired up, man,” Gardner said. “I’m usually pretty even keeled, but I was excited. We were kind of slow all game, and they’re winning 2-0 up to last strike in the ninth inning. It feels good to come through in a situation like that.”
What had to be a bit more painful for Chicago Cubs fans was watching the man who sealed their World Series championship last season, Aroldis Chapman come into the 9th and blow away batters with 100 m.p.h. heat.
Chapman, who received his World Series ring from the Cubs before the game, had to pitch out of a bit of trouble in the bottom half of the ninth, Addison Russell reached second following an error. However, in the end, Chapman struck out two of the four batters he faced, saving the win for the Yankees.
Cubs fans had to witness another former teammate do damage in Game 2 as Starlin Castro was the hero on Saturday. Castro hit a three-run home run against his former team in his return to Wrigley Field.
“Come back here and hit a homer, it’s really fun,” Castro said. “I feel really good to come here and compete against my ex-team.”
The Chicago Cubs are ready to put the first two games behind them as they try to salvage a win tonight in the series finale. Manager Joe Maddon knows his team will pick things up soon. However, he also noted that the New York Yankees look very focused and hungry to win.
“It’s just hard to go 25-6 on an annual basis, regardless of how much you’d like to,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I’m with these guys every day. “Conversationally, watching them, looking in their eyes, they’re engaged. There’s no haziness, no fuzziness, no lack of engagement on their part. Teams have played pretty well against us too.”
CBS Sports indicates that the Cubs will send New York Yankees killer Jon Lester to the hill tonight, while the Bombers counter with Luis Severino.
Lester is an incredible 13-6 with a 3.78 ERA in 29 career starts against the Yankees. However, all of those decisions came when he was with the Boston Red Sox. Tonight will be the first time Lester will go up against the Yankees since June 28, 2014.
The Cubs should be optimistic about their chances of a victory with Lester on the bump, especially because the game is at Wrigley Field. Lester has a 1.50 ERA at home, compared to a six-plus earned run average on the road.
Las Vegas odds makers have the Cubs listed at -140, with the over/under number set at seven. The comeback on New York is +125.
Fans can catch every pitch of the New York Yankees vs. Chicago Cubs game live nationally on ESPN. For fans on the go, you can also keep up with the live action on your tablet, smartphone or any other handheld device by downloading the Watch ESPN App. First pitch is scheduled for just after 8 p.m. ET.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]