The Rundown: Marlins Tattoo Cubs, Darvish to Start Win-or-Walk Game, Three Teams Advance, Six Face Elimination Today

A seventh-inning meltdown put the Cubs on the brink of elimination after a stunning 5-1 loss to the Marlins at Wrigley Field yesterday. David Ross took some criticism for leaving Kyle Hendricks in the game to face Corey Dickerson, who went yard with two on to give Miami a two-run lead, but any manager should be able to trust his ace in that situation. Hendricks served up a first-pitch meatball, however, and Dickerson tattooed it.

In defense of those who questioned the Cubs manager, Hendricks had pitched four consecutive high-stress innings, and after surrendering singles to Miguel Rojas and Chad Wallach, perhaps it may have been the right time to make a call to the bullpen. Then again, we jumped all over Joe Maddon the last 2-3 years for not trusting his starters. Was Ross overcompensating? Perhaps, but you can’t fault him for trusting his starter.

The bigger issue was lack of hitting. The Cubs are a streaky bunch, so when they go into an offensive funk it usually lasts for more than a single game. If they want to avoid elimination today they’re going to have to find a way to string some hits together. The only damage they could muster against Miami starter Sandy Alcantara was a fifth inning home run by Ian Happ.

It will be Yu Darvish facing Sixto Sánchez in a win-or-walk game for the Cubs. There’s nothing else to say about yesterday’s game except that Chicago just needs to put the loss behind them.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

It’s a lot easier to win if you know what pitch is coming. Though they used a different method, the Astros have previously proven that scientific fact.

Postseason Potables

It took 13 innings for the Braves to beat the Reds 1-0 yesterday thanks to a walk-off single by Freddie Freeman off of Amir Garrett. The two teams fanned 37 times in the extra innings affair, and Cincinnati starter Trevor Bauer was outstanding with 12 strikeouts in 7.2 innings. A.J. Minter grabbed the win, though the Braves used eight pitchers on the day, so they’ll need a solid effort from Ian Anderson in today’s potential clincher. The Reds will counter with Luis Castillo.

The Twins have now lost 18 consecutive playoff games and are out of the postseason tournament after the Astros knocked them off 3-1 yesterday. Minnesota entered the series with baseball’s best home record and Houston was one of two sub-.500 teams in the postseason, but their stretch of futility improbably remains intact. DH Nelson Cruz will be a free agent this winter but indicated he’d like to stay with the Twins. Houston will face the winner of the White Sox – A’s series at Dodger Stadium.

The A’s pasted the Pale Hose 5-2 yesterday thanks to strong efforts by starter Chris Bassitt and shortstop Marcus Semien. Bassitt scattered six hits over seven innings to pick up the win, and Semien hit a huge second inning home run off Chicago starter Dallas Keuchel that proved to be the game-winner. It’s win or go home for both teams in this afternoon’s rubber game. Starters for either team have yet to be announced.

The Rays are moving on to the ALDS after beating the Blue Jays 8-2 yesterday. Hunter Renfroe hit a grand slam off of Hyun-Jin Ryu in the second inning that completely sucked the wind from Toronto’s sails. Tyler Glasnow earned the win, and Tampa Bay will face the Yankees in the next round.

The Bronx Bombers edged the Indians 10-9 thanks to a ninth-inning two-run single by DJ LeMahieu off of Cleveland closer Brad Hand. Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres hit .719 in the two games. Francisco Lindor, who will arguably be the most pursued a free agent this winter, was nearly invisible with a .125 BA in the series. Last night’s game took nearly five hours to complete and was the longest nine-inning game in MLB history.

The Cardinals took the first game of their series against the Padres with a 7-5 win at Petco Park in San Diego. Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer in the second inning and St. Louis rode their bullpen to victory. Adam Wainwright will try to pitch the Redbirds into the NLDS tonight. The Friars will counter with Zach Davies.

The Brewers played tough against the Dodgers in last night’s late game, but couldn’t overcome a three-spot by Los Angeles off of Brent Suter in the first inning, who struggled with command. The Dodgers’ bullpen held Milwaukee scoreless for the final five frames to seal the victory. The Brew Crew will have to beat Clayton Kershaw to stay alive n the three-game set. Milwaukee will put the game in the hands of Brandon Woodruff, their best starter down the stretch.

On Deck

Get to Sánchez early and leave no doubt.

How About That!

MLB is planning to sell up to 11,500 tickets for NLCS and World Series games at Rangers Stadium in Texas.

ESPN has signed White Sox announcer Jason Benetti to a multi-year contract.

Six teams are facing elimination in five games today, including the Cubs. The White Sox and A’s are tried 1-1, and, along with the North Siders, the Reds, Padres, and Brewers all trail 1-0 in their series.

With eight games yesterday, baseball fans were treated to over 12 hours of live baseball. There’s probably no way MLB gets rid of expanded playoffs, one would think.

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has a strain near the middle of his back, manager Craig Counsell said. He initially hurt himself in the regular-season finale and aggravated it last night. Braun is considered day-to-day.

Postseason baseball without packed stadiums has been a surreal experience so far.

The agreement between MLB and MiLB expired at midnight last night.

Extra Innings

This year has not provided us with many smiles, but every once in a while you come across something that does, while making you just a little misty at the same time.

They Said It

  • “I trusted in Kyle [Hendricks] all season long. I tried to look back on the at-bats [versus] Dickerson [0-for-2 with a walk)up to that point]. You look at the history of what Dickerson’s done off Kyle [4-for-16]. No real damage there. You trust in the guy that got you there. I trusted him all year long and he’s done nothing but perform.” – David Ross
  • “I’ve been feeling so strong at the end of games. I was making good pitches. I had made good pitches to Dickerson all day long. That wasn’t a bad pitch. He just jumped on it. He was sitting on it. He didn’t miss it.” – Kyle Hendricks

Thursday Walk-Up Song

Psychotic Reaction by The Count Five – Cubs fans are already throwing in the towel after yesterday’s dismal performance, which is odd since Chicago has won a plethora of three-game series after dropping the first game. It’s just one loss.

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