2016 NLCS: Theo Epstein Credits Ben Zobrist’s Bunt For Cubs’ Turnaround
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers took a lead over the Chicago Cubs after three games in the National League Championship Series behind dominant pitching performances led by Clayton and Rich Hill. Game 4 at Dodger Stadium saw multiple momentum swings, with one play changing the complexion of the series.

At least that’s the conclusion Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein drew. Ben Zobrist’s bunt to lead off the fourth inning ignited a four-run rally. It ended a stretch of 21 consecutive scoreless innings.

The Cubs stormed to a 10-2 victory, tying the NLCS. Chicago followed it with resounding wins in Games 5 and 6 to advance to their first World Series since 1945.

“We basically hadn’t hit for two straight games,” Epstein told Robert Flores and Dan Pleasac on MLB Network during a postgame interview Saturday.

“Zobrist lays down that bunt and all of a sudden our approach got locked in, our identity showed up again and we kind of rolled from there culminating with an incredible performance here [Saturday]. That was us, what you saw out there, that was how we played for most of the year.”

The Dodgers committed six errors over the final three games of the NLCS. The Cubs took full advantage, outscoring the Dodgers, 23-6, over that span.

After Game 2, Zobrist was in the spotlight due to Yasmani Grandal’s accusation he stole signs from second base.

The 35-year-old utility man hit safely in just two of six NLCS games, though did draw four walks. But perhaps most importantly, Zobrist essentially sparked a Cubs team that was marred in an offensive lull.