While the Cubs gained only one thing by beating the Dodgers, 3-2, on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, it was the most essential of things -- the right to play a Game 5.
Javier Baez's swing looped from the bottom of the strike zone to the top of it, his right hand leaving his bat as it whooshed above his shoulder. Baez watched his first home run of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series fly into the night on Wednesday, as aware as anyone of its personal significance.
If Wednesday was Jake Arrieta's last outing for the Cubs, he wanted to savor it. "I took a little bit of extra time between pitches just to look around, foul pole to foul pole, behind home plate, just to relish it and take it in," Arrieta said after helping the Cubs avoid elimination and beat the Dodgers, 3-2, to extend their season.
Alex Wood watched from the dugout as the Dodgers tore through the first two weeks of the postseason. Finally -- after three weeks of simulated games and bullpen sessions -- it was his turn to join the fray.
Most of the time, it's very difficult to imagine a situation in which a baseball team would like absolutely nothing more than the chance to step into the batter's box against the best pitcher in the Major Leagues.
In the end, Cubs closer Wade Davis threw just one additional pitch. But oh, the drama that preceded that pitch.