The Chicago Cubs came into the second half of the “Crosstown Classic” intracity matchup with a 2.5 game lead in the NL Central Division over the second-place Milwaukee Brewers following a brutal stretch of 30 games scheduled in 30 days. The Northsiders finished that stretch with an 18-11 record before matching up against their south side American League rivals, the Chicago White Sox, at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday. Entering the weekend, the Cubs’ “magic number” to clinch a third straight NL Central Division title was 8.
This series was also notable for being the last hurrah for longtime White Sox TV broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, known for his animus against the Northsiders. Prior to the start of the series, Harrelson had let it be known he would “give anything” to see a ChiSox sweep during his final broadcasts.
“My last game is against the Cubs. I’m going to do all three of those September games. It’ll give me three more days of pissing Cubs fans off. I would give anything — anything — for us to sweep their ass.” https://t.co/xmyqWnHYK1 pic.twitter.com/NaC4hDClKX
— Chicago magazine (@ChicagoMag) September 11, 2018
Unfortunately for Harrelson, the Southsiders took the first game of the series but failed to win a second game, let alone sweep the Cubs.
Friday, September 21
White Sox 10, Cubs 4
W: López (7-9); L: Quintana (13-11)
Player of the Game: Reynaldo López (7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 8 SO)
Cubs SP José Quintana was less than effective in his return to Sox Park as one of the only three pitchers to start a “Crosstown Classic” game for both the Cubs and White Sox, giving up 5 ER on 9 hits in 5.0 IP.
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 21, 2018
The Southsiders continued to pound Cubs pitching, while the Northsiders were stymied by Sox SP Reynaldo López, who went 7 strong innings, only giving up 1 earned run.
Saturday, September 22
Cubs 8, White Sox 3
W: Lester (17-6); L: Giolito (10-12)
Player of the Game: Javier Báez (2-4, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR)
The Cubs looked to even the series behind SP Jon Lester, who went 5.0 IP, giving up 3 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits with 4 strikeouts. Cubs INF Javier Báez continued his MVP campaign, hitting a 2-run bomb in the first inning to give Lester an early lead, but the Southsiders came back to tie the game with an RBI single by OF Avisaíl García in the 1st inning and a solo home run by INF Tim Anderson in the 3rd.
The Cubs broke the tie in the 5th inning with four consecutive hits off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito by OF Kyle Schwarber, INF David Bote, INF Daniel Murphy and INF Ben Zobrist to score three runs. In the bottom of the inning, Anderson scored on an RBI single by DH Matt Davidson (starting at 1B) to make the score 5-3.
There was no further scoring until the top of the 9th inning, when the Cubs scored 3 to break the game open with a fielder’s choice grounder by OF Albert Almora, Jr., an RBI single by Báez and a forceout by INF Anthony Rizzo. RP Steve Cishek was brought into the game in the bottom of the 9th, and he successfully shut the door on the home team, giving the Cubs a much-needed win to bring their magic number down to 6 following the Brewers’ 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Sunday, September 23
Cubs 6, White Sox 1
W: Hendricks (13-11); L: Rodón (6-7)
Players of the Game: Kyle Hendricks (7.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 SO, 0 BB); Kyle Schwarber (2-2, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 BB)
The rubber match of the South Side half of the “Crosstown Classic” featured a pitching matchup between Kyle Hendricks for the visiting Cubs and Carlos Rodón for the ChiSox. Hendricks came into the game off an especially dominant outing in the Northsiders’ 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in which he went 8.2 innings, giving up only 1 ER on 3 hits. Hendricks continued to be locked in against the Sox, going 7.2 innings and allowing 1 ER on 4 hits with 5 strikeouts and no walks.
Hendricks’ counterpart on the home team, Carlos Rodón, was ineffective, however. He allowed 6 ER on 9 hits in 2.1 IP. North Side hitting continued to pound the ball against the Sox staff and would have blown out their opponents had they been able to get hits with runners in scoring position (RISP), going 3-20 in RISP situations and scoring just 6 runs on 15 total hits.
But Hendricks’ performance and the support of OF Kyle Schwarber, who went 2-2 with a solo bomb in the 2nd inning (his first off a lefty in 2018) and an RBI double in the 3rd inning, was enough to seal the win over the Southsiders and take the series. The victory brought the Cubs’ magic number to clinch the NL Central pennant down to 5.
The Cubs will open a four-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight at 8:05 PM ET. This series will feature Thursday’s ceremonial first pitch being thrown by Canadian minor-leaguer and Prince George, British Columbia native Jared Young, the recipient of the 2018 Cubs Minor League Player of the Year honors. Support the site by buying your tickets from SeatGeek!
Featured Image: James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com
I grew up a Cubs fan in Northwest Illinois and became an avid follower of the team during the Sosa-McGwire home run chase. Now I am the #1 Cubs fan in Toronto, Canada. You can find me on Twitter @Troll_Hamels (personal) and @farnorthsider (blog).