CHICAGO (Reuters) - History has not often been kind to the Cubs, Chicago’s popular but seldom successful north side baseball franchise, but the young team remains hopeful they can continue their post-season run.
The Cubs survived a one-game playoff to earn a spot in the National League’s divisional series, where they dispatched the arch rival St. Louis Cardinals.
Now, with Wrigley Field’s ivy walls turning an autumn orange, the Cubs will need to overcome yet another monumental climb to reach their first World Series since 1945 after the New York Mets scraped out a 5-2 victory on Tuesday to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“From my perspective, (it‘s) business as usual tomorrow,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “Come out, get ready to play, and just take it from there.”
Only the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who beat the New York Yankees on their way to their first championship since 1918, have battled back from a 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series in the major leagues.
The general manager of that Boston team, Theo Epstein, is the architect of the Cubs’ current revival.
“The fact we still have an opportunity to come back and do this... you think about the parallels, think about the fact that it happened against a New York team,” Maddon said.
“But it’s up to us to go out and play and execute.”
The Cubs hope to claw out a win on Wednesday with veteran starter Jason Hammel, who has yet to record a post-season win in his career.
If they survive, Chicago would then hand the ball back to Jon Lester and NL Cy Young frontrunner Jake Arrieta for Games Five and Six.
The Cubs, however, will need to start hitting the ball if they hope to advance. They averaged 4.8 runs in the playoffs entering the NLCS series, but have been held to just 1.7 a game against Mets pitching.
“We’re not where we want to be, but teams have done it before,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
“I don‘t want to be down 3-0, obviously, but we are and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow. That’s all we can do. Our backs are against the wall, just keep swinging.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury