It was 2-2 in the sixth inning with two outs when Trevor Cahill struck out Michael Conforto. The inning was over and the Cubs were still in good position to win and cut the series lead to 2-1. Except for one thing - the Cubs are cursed. The strikeout pitch got away from catcher Miguel Montero and Conforto ran to first while Yoenis Cespdes raced home from third with what would prove to be the winning run. Now the Cubs are down, 3-0, and only one team has ever come back from that deficit (Squawker Lisa, I'm drawing a blank - can you help me out here?).
As if to underscore how cursed the Cubs are, on the very next play right fielder Jorge Soler fell flat on his face failing to field a single by Wilmer Flores. Conforto raced around to apparently score an insurance run, but had to go back to third when the ball was ruled dead after rolling into the ivy covering the outfield wall. At the time, it was a big break for the Cubs, but it only underscored the cruelty of their curse by giving them false hope. Instead, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber continued the Cubs' shaky defensive play in the seventh, giving the Mets two more runs and a 5-2 win.
Bryant, Schwarber and Soler are three of the Cubs' rising young hitters. Before the series, the debate was the Cubs' young position players vs. the Mets' young pitchers. As Casey Stengel said, good pitching will always stop good hitting, and vice versa. But there's no vice versa here. The Mets pitching staff has a 1.67 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and a 29-5 K/BB ratio in 27 innings. The Cubs are hitting .158 with a .492 OPS.
And good hitting is not going to have a chance against good pitching when those good hitters are fielding as poorly as the Cubs were last night.
Today is "Back to the Future Day." In the second movie, made in 1989, Marty McFly traveled to October 21, 2015. In the movie, the Cubs win the 2015 World Series, a fact frequently mentioned recently as a potential good omen for the long-suffering franchise.
Naturally, what could now happen is that Back to the Future Day will mark the Cubs' latest elimination and heartbreak.
Speaking of "future" references in popular culture, "The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)" came out in 1986, a year in which the Mets' future never looked brighter. The song was meant to be cynical, not inspirational, but in the 2015 NLCS, I'm taking the lyrics at face value: "Things are going great, and they're only getting better." Indeed they are!
Tonight or soon after, the 2015 Mets will be able to sing "The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Goggles to Keep the Champagne Out of My Eyes). Let's Go Mets!