The Cubs are headed to the NLCS after defeating the Cardinals 6-4 tonight behind timely hitting and solid relief work. That was the Cubs’ 3rd straight win over their rivals and the closed the series out 3-1.
The Cubs clinched their first ever postseason series at Wrigley and first series since 2003 tonight. They will head to the NLCS to face the winner of the Mets and Dodgers.
Faced with an early 2-0 deficit, the Cubs battled back with some 2-out magic to put up a 4-spot in the bottom of the 2nd inning. The big blast was a 3-run HR to RF off the bat of Javier Baez, who got the start for Addison Russell (hamstring) at short. He ambushed a first-pitch fastball and hit a no-doubter to give the Cubs a 4-2 advantage. Baez finished the game 2 for 3 and finished the NLDS 4 for 5 with the HR and 3 RBI.
Anthony Rizzo ended up hitting the go-ahead HR (a 2-out shot) in the 6th after the Cardinals had tied the game in the top half of the inning. It was his 2nd HR of the series and was his 2nd HR off Cardinals lefty Siegrist. Rizzo also added an infield single against the shift to give him a 2 for 4 day. He finished the NLDS with a .214 AVG, but a .910 OPS (thanks to the HRs).
Kyle Schwarber did something to a baseball tonight that should be illegal in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. He turned on an inside pitch and absolutely crushed it out over the scoreboard in RF. It left his bat at 112.5 MPH and allegedly went 419 feet, though I estimated it at roughly 1,200. He finished his first playoff series with a .500 AVG and 1.683 OPS.
Jorge Soler made an out for the first time in his short playoff career; he actually made 3 outs, but contributed in a big way with his cannon right arm. He kept the game tied at 4-4 with a perfectly thrown ball to home to get the go-ahead runner at the plate. His throw left RF at a crisp 92 MPH and was a one-hop strike to Miguel Montero.
Joe Maddon orchestrated his pen perfectly tonight and put guys in a position to succeed all night. I would say for the most part they did very well. Justin Grimm (1 IP, 3 Ks), Clayton Richard (0.1 IP, 1 huge K), Pedro Strop (1 IP, 2 Ks), and Hector Rondon (2nd save) came up with the best stuff tonight out of the pen.
Jason Hammel wasn’t great and put the Cubs in a very early hole with the Cardinals scoring 2 runs on his 1st 4 pitches of the game. He only made it through 3+ innings, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits (1 HR) and 3 walks with 2 Ks. He didn’t command his fastball very well and got hit hard early; thankfully Maddon had a very short leash for him and turned to the pen to finish things out in this one.
The Cubs will now get to wait out the Mets vs. Dodgers’ series to see which team they will face off against next. It does appear that game 1 of the NLCS will be Saturday evening though. I would imagine Jake Arrieta will get the ball in game 1, but with the Cubs clinching tonight they have the option to really set their rotation.