The Cubs entered the final game of the season in a tie for first with Milwaukee and needed to win to assure at least a one-game playoff for the division title on Monday. Things started out badly, but the home team was able to get it going in the middle innings for a relatively easy win. The Brewers also handled their business on Sunday, so the stage is now set for a division showdown.
The Cardinals jumped ahead in the top of the 1st against Mike Montgomery. Matt Carpenter doubled and scored on a Paul DeJong single, DeJong would score on a Patrick Wisdom single that was uncharacteristically misplayed by Jason Heyward.
Montgomery would not last long, getting the hook just two outs into the 3rd inning. Allen Webster — yes, Allen Webster — was the first of a cavalcade of Cubs relievers Sunday. Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty fell apart with two outs in the bottom of the 3rd, as Daniel Murphy doubled and scored when Ben Zobrist tripled to right. Zobrist would score on a wild pitch to tie the game at two runs apiece.
After the wild pitch, Javy Baez walked and came around to score on Anthony Rizzo’s double. Heyward atoned for his error, singling home Rizzo to make it 4-2. The Cubs played add on in the 5th inning against Austin Gomber. Kris Bryant doubled home two runs and Willson Contreras hit a two-run laser homer to left to increase the lead to 8-2.
Alec Mills, who pitched two clean innings, ran into trouble in the 6th. Wisdom doubled and Harrison Bader walked, bringing Carl Edwards Jr. on. Edwards struggled again with a wild pitch and then a two-run single by Yairo Munoz to cut the lead to 8-4.
An error and a infield hit from Albert Almora Jr. restored the six-run cushion in the bottom half. Brandon Kintzler, Steve Cishek, Jamie Garcia, and Jorge De La Rosa combined to allow just one run over the final three innings in the Cubs win. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
When Chicago fell behind 2-0 with the Brewers pulling ahead against the Tigers, the Wrigley crowd was lifeless. But the Cubs never panicked and the offense came through in a big way. The Cardinals horrible defense and bullpen also really helped.
The crowd had had very little to get excited about early in the game, so seeing known speed merchant Ben Zobrist tripling to the corner electrified the crowd. Jose Martinez did a horrible job fielding the ball, which proved very costly on the wild pitch that tied the game.
Stats That Matter
- The bottom of the Cubs bullpen did what they needed to to get the win: 6.2 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 9 K, and 5 BB. They allowed some traffic on the bases but did not break, something the Cardinals ‘pen couldn’t say.
- Rizzo had a huge game with four hits, coming up big when they needed him.
- Contreras hit two balls extremely hard, including his homer, and drew a walk.
The regular season couldn’t decide anything in the NL Central. The Cubs and Brewers have been battling all season long, so of course another game is needed to decide it. This wasn’t an easy campaign for the Northsiders, as injuries, rain delays, and various other issues dogged them all year. Still, 95 wins is a pretty darn good season for any team.
As Pat Hughes would say: “Buckle up, Cubs fans.” The one-game NL Central tie-breaker is Monday at 12:05pm CT in Chicago. Jose Quintana is facing a yet-to-be-announced Brewers pitcher in a game exclusively on ESPN.