The last time Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs played a postseason game at Wrigley Field they were fighting for a MLB World Series title.
Monday, in game three of their National League Division Series matchup against the Washington Nationals, the reigning champions will be fighting to regain momentum.
The Cubs earned a shutout victory in game one, but their bullpen collapsed as the Nationals evened the series on Saturday.
Cubs manager Maddon is glad to be back home heading into game three.
"It's outstanding. Listen, right now, we've been playing some really good baseball since the Milwaukee series, in particular, those four games up there were magnificent," Maddon said during his news conference on Sunday. "The series in St Louis, 10 games on the road, actually, at the latter part of the season, Tampa Bay, to Milwaukee to St Louis have been really, really pleased with the way we've been playing. So you come back home, and these are our fans and they are very uplifting, and it's the best place in the world to play baseball.
"We are eager to play here all the time. When it comes down to it, when you're at home, sometimes there's more commitments, when you're not here, families in town, those kind of things. But there's no better place, venue, in all of professional sports anywhere in the world than this particular building [Wrigley Field] right here. We're always eager and excited to play here."
Due to a hamstring injury, Nationals ace Max Scherzer will pitch on Monday. While it is not normal to face a team's best pitcher in game three of a series, Maddon is ready because he always expects good pitching in the postseason.
"When you get to this time of the year, you see nothing but normally good pitching, you just don't," Maddon said. "This time of the year, you have to pitch well to be able to participate. Our guys welcome the challenge.
"Yeah, they can blow you away, that's no question. That's this time of the year. Our guys embrace it. They really kind of enjoy it actually. I think it will be a very entertaining, good evening, and like I said, I like our guy a lot, too."
The Cubs will start Jose Quintana, who joined the team from the Chicago White Sox before the July 31 trade deadline. Quintana struggled at times in a Cubs uniform, but he is just one start removed from a three-hitter in Milwaukee.
Maddon thinks it is important to rebound quickly from their game-two loss, and he believes the Cubs are up to the task.
"It's very important. Both teams are good," Maddon said. "Both teams are here for a reason and sometimes they get you. And I actually think it's easier to flush this time of the year sometimes as opposed to the regular season because you have to. It's a short series. Both teams are good. You have to move on to the next moment. You have no choice.
"If you live in the previous negative situation, then you're really eliminating all your chances to proceed. I think we have been really good at getting hit in the jaw a little bit and moving on, and I'm looking forward to that again [Monday] night."
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