Johnny Cueto and Jon Lester engaged in an epic pitchers’ duel Friday night at Wrigley Field, but Javier Baez snapped the scoreless deadlock in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the National League Division Series with a solo home run to hand the Chicago Cubs a 1-0 win over the San Francisco Giants.  

The Cubs’ official Twitter account offered a glimpse at the game’s defining moment: 

As’s Jayson Stark pointed out, Baez’s game-winning dinger off Cueto was improbable based on his past failures at the plate against the San Francisco starter: 

However, Inside Edge took note of Baez’s historic success against two strikes to show the second baseman’s game-winner was the continuation of a recent trend: 

Offense wasn’t abundant on either side, but the Giants were more consistent at the plate through the first three innings. 

While the Cubs failed to notch a hit off Cueto in each of the first three frames, the Giants produced a baserunner in each of the first four half-innings they stepped to the plate.

However, the Giants were unable to push a runner across the plate during that span and take the lead despite the fact that they had runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth. 

Kris Bryant finally got the Cubs into the hit column with a double to left field in the fourth inning, and the brief awakening looked for a moment like it would spark Chicago’s offense. 

But with Cueto dealing, the Cubs couldn’t make good on Bryant’s two-bagger, as Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist both were unable to come up with timely hits that would have given the Cubs a 1-0 edge. 

Fox Sports 1 on Twitter provided a snapshot of just how strong both starting pitchers were as the game progressed: 

And when the bottom of the fifth came to a close, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan noted the Giants’ pitching staff as a whole has been aces in the postseason: 

Bay Area News Group’s Andrew Baggarly explained that Cueto’s off-speed stuff was giving the Cubs fits: 

Meanwhile,’s Daren Willman provided a visual overview of Cueto’s dominance against a team that ranked third in MLB in runs scored:

The pitchers’ duel continued through the top half of the eighth inning, but things turned in Chicago’s favor when Baez launched a shot to left field that just sneaked over the wall to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead with Aroldis Chapman warming in the bullpen. 

With Wrigley buzzing following Baez’s improbable blast, all of the momentum had shifted in the Cubs’ favor.  

Chapman entered to try to close the Giants out in the ninth inning, and he did just that even though Giants catcher Buster Posey reached base after ripping a two-out double to left-center field. 

But with his trademark fireballs flowing, Chapman settled down after Posey moved into scoring position and induced a Hunter Pence groundout to end things. 

The Cubs will now try to mount a 2-0 edge against the NL Wild Card champions on Saturday when the series resumes at 8:08 p.m. ET at Wrigley Field.

Chicago will send Kyle Hendrickswho is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in his last three starts—to the mound, while the Giants will counter with Jeff Samardzija, who has been red hot to the tune of a 1.37 ERA and 24 strikeouts in his last three outings. 


Postgame Reaction

Following the win, the Cubs’ Twitter account captured the scene on the field at Wrigley: 

“It was a classic kind of an old-school baseball game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, according to 670 The Score on Twitter

“I expect these games to be like this,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy added, per 670 The Score 

According to USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale, Baez wasn’t initially planning to swing away against Cueto in the eighth: 

“We have 10 wins to go,” Baez said, according to 670 The Score

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