The Rundown: Pirates Derail Cubs, Brewers Gain a Game With Big Win, Pressure Mounting

Quick one today, I’m working on a poor internet connection. First world problems, I know.

The Brewers aren’t going to make it any easier for the Cubs so the local nine is going to have to find a way to win the games they are supposed to win, such as last night’s game at Wrigley against the Pirates. But when your only offense is a solo home run, by your starting pitcher no less, you’re setting yourself up for heartbreaking defeat.

Meanwhile, the Brewers knocked a game off the Cubs’ lead by defeating the Cardinals 6-4 in St. Louis. After all the math is complete, the Cubs magic number is still five to win the division, two to make the playoffs, and their division lead is a game and a half with six to play. No sweat, right?

Up here in Milwaukee fans are so giddy they are imagining scenarios where six NL teams all end up with 92 wins. Not that I want to burst anybody’s bubble, but I’d sure like to see the Cubs win the next three against Pittsburgh to make that nightmare go away.

How about Cole Hamels last night?

Hamels bounced back from last week’s rocky start at Arizona by tossing six innings against the Pirates and giving up five hits and three runs, two earned. He also hit his second career home run, a big drive to center field in the bottom of the third off Jameson Taillon to pull the Cubs to within 2-1.

Hamels’ only other homer was while pitching for Philadelphia against Matt Cain of the Giants in 2012.

The rest of the team’s bats were silent in the loss. Joe Maddon is feeling some some urgency as the playoffs approach.

“The offense has taken a hit — there’s no question,” Maddon told reporters earlier this month. “There’s just no other way to look at it. I think we have to find that within ourselves.”

Hamels is now 4-2 with an ERA of 2.47 since joining the Cubs. The Cubs really could use a win tonight, and a Milwaukee loss wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

Meanwhile, the Pirates – relishing the role of spoilers – have won seven of their past nine games and look to finish the season above .500 for the first time since 2015.

Cubs News & Notes

Kris Bryant was back in the lineup after being held out of Sunday’s win over the crosstown White Sox due to fatigue in his left shoulder. The 2016 NL MVP was on the disabled list from July 26 to Sept. 1 with left shoulder inflammation and missed time earlier in the season because of the same issue.

RHP Pedro Strop (strained left hamstring) played catch and did some agility drills yesterday. The reliever hopes to pitch in a game prior to the playoffs after being sidelined since Sept. 13, when he was hurt running to first on a double-play grounder at Washington.

For whatever reason, the Pirates sure like holding the Cubs to solo homers. They’ve done it for five straight games now, a team record.

NBC projects the Cubs playoff roster and looks at rotation options if the team is forced into a single-elimination wild card game.

How About That!

The Red Sox set a franchise record for wins with 106 and clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs in beating the Orioles 6-1 last night.

Mookie Betts went 2-for-5 last night, including a two-run tater and a stolen base. The 25-year-old is just one steal away from joining the 30-30 Club. The only other player in Red Sox history to accomplish that feat is Jacoby Ellsbury (2011).

Jonah Keri of CBS Sports details how shrewd trades, smart drafting, and a little luck changed the Braves from league laughingstock to championship contender in just one season. 

Though a six-team tie seems pretty unlikely, a four-team tie in the National League for the two wild card spots plus the NL West is still a distinct possibility.

For the first time since 2014, the Athletics are going to the postseason. The Yankees’ win over the Rays on Monday night made it official. With that, the full AL playoff bracket is set. The A’s have 95 wins and are THE story of the season.

The Cardinals homered twice off lock down reliever Josh Hader to inch ahead of the Brewers last night, but Milwaukee eventually prevailed, picking up their 90th win of the season.

The Brewers used nine pitchers in last night’s game, including starter Dan Jennings, who only faced one batter as the team’s designated opener. Hooray for expanded rosters.

The Dodgers won for the 10th time in 12 games to maintain their one and a half game lead over the Rockies in the NL West.

Corey Kluber won his 20th game of the season last night as the Indians beat the White Sox.

Monday’s Three Stars

  1. Kluber – See stat line in graphic above.
  2. Anthony Rendon – The Nationals third baseman was 2-for-4 with 4 RBI and hit his 21st home run of the season in Washington’s 7-4 victory over he Marlins.
  3. David Freese – The Dodgers first baseman was 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, leading Los Angeles to a 7-4 victory over the Diamondbacks.

On Deck

Just unbelievable…

Extra Innings

Meet Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers new mascot. I’m terrified.

They Said It

  • “Anytime, I guess, you hit a home run, it’s pretty exciting. But I think it goes better when you win. You really have to give it to Taillon. He really came after us and threw the ball really well.” – Cole Hamels
  • “Who has the advantage [in the playoffs]? I don’t know. Whoever pitches better that night has the advantage. It’s hard to do something different or new because both sides know each other pretty well. I totally agree with that. I’ve worried about that in the past, but I think I’ve learned not to because if you trust your players and put everyone out there and you’re in good health, you have just as good a shot as they do.” – Joe Maddon
  • “We knew (this week) wasn’t going to be easy. We’ve just got to win some ball games.” – Anthony Rizzo

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Pressure by Billy Joel. “But here you are in the ninth, two men out and three men on….”

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