The Cubs trotted out a replacement-level lineup against the Cardinals after winning the division Wednesday night. Sure enough, a few unlikely heroes from the end of the bench were able to knock St. Louis out of playoff contention in dramatic fashion. (Box Score)
Why The Cubs Won
Kyle Hendricks and a collection of lightly-used bullpen arms were able to limit the Cardinals to a single run over 11 innings. That stifling effort gave Chicago just enough time to scratch across two runs.
With one out in the top of the 11th inning, Kyle Schwarber hit a little dribbler in front of the mound. Reliever Matt Bowman grabbed it and threw wildly to first. It was ruled a single and an error, allowing Schwarber to advance to second. After moving to third on a Victor Caratini groundout, third baseman(?) Taylor Davis(!) doubled down the left field line to put the Cubs up 2-1.
Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong batted against Jen-Ho Tseng with two outs in the bottom of the 11th. DeJong blasted a ball to deep center, where Leonys Martin sprinted to the wall and reached over to catch the would-be home run to seal the win.
Stats That Matter
- Kyle Hendricks looked sharp in his abbreviated start: 5 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 9 K, and 1 BB. A case could be made for the Professor to start Game 1 of the NLDS. He has been outstanding in the second half and the pressure surely wouldn’t hurt him.
- Jen-Ho Tseng was much better in his second appearance as a Cub: 3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 K, and 1 BB. His former battery mate Taylor Davis and recent arrival Leonys Martin helped Tseng earn his first career MLB win.
- Ian Happ hit a solo shot to right in the 1st inning to produce the other Chicago run. It was Happ’s 23rd homer in 2017, not too bad for a rookie who didn’t come up until May.
This game meant almost nothing to the Cubs, but a lot of guys who don’t see much time played hard and earned a win. Oh, one more thing, it also officially eliminated the Cards from the playoffs.
The Cubs start the final series of the regular season against the Reds Friday at 1:20 CT. Robert Stephenson faces the red-hot Jose Quintana in a game airing on MLB Network (out of market) and CSN Chicago.