After splitting a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Cubs entered the weekend with a magic number of 3 to clinch a third consecutive Central Division title. A sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the closing series of the 2018 regular season would have cemented the Central Division pennant, but the Northsiders were stymied by Cardinals SP Miles Mikolas in the Saturday afternoon matchup. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers swept the Detroit Tigers at Miller Park in Wisconsin to earn a tie, forcing a one-game playoff for the division championship and home field advantage until the World Series.
Friday, September 28
Cubs 8, Cardinals 4
W: Hendricks (14-11); L: Wainwright (2-4)
Player of the Game: Kyle Hendricks (8.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO)
After a disappointing series against Pittsburgh, the Cubs bats got to work in support of yet another sparkling September performance from Kyle Hendricks, who allowed 2 runs on 7 hits in 8.0 IP with 2 strikeouts. INF Daniel Murphy went 2-3 with 1 RBI, and INF Kris Bryant went 1-3 with a solo HR in the 4th inning off Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright, who had missed most of the 2018 season due to a hamstring injury. The loss brought the Cardinals close to the brink of elimination from the NL Wild Card race.
Saturday, September 29
Cardinals 2, Cubs 1
W: Mikolas (18-4); L: Hamels (9-12)
Player of the Game: Miles Mikolas (8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 SO)
The Cardinals faced a must-win situation against their division rivals if they wanted to remain in contention for a spot in the NL Wild Card game following their loss on Friday. Cardinals SP and noted pornstache enthusiast Miles Mikolas, who had been outstanding for the Redbirds all season, delivered and shut down the Cubs offense en route to a 1-run victory in a low-scoring affair.
The Cubs took an early lead in the bottom of the 1st on a fielding error by Cardinals INF Yairo Muñoz which allowed INF Ben Zobrist to score. A catcher’s interference error by Victor Caratini of the Cubs in the top of the 4th inning proved to be decisive, as Cubs SP Cole Hamels ultimately allowed 2 runs, but only 1 earned, in 7.0 IP on just 3 hits with 8 strikeouts. Cardinals INF Matt Carpenter, who reached on the catcher’s interference, later scored the tying run thanks to an RBI single by INF Paul DeJong. The Redbirds took the lead in the 5th inning on an RBI single by Carpenter scoring OF Harrison Bader and held on for a much-needed victory. However, they were later eliminated from postseason consideration thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 10-6 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night.
Sunday, September 30
Cubs 10, Cardinals 5
W: Webster (1-0); L: Flaherty (8-9)
Player of the Game: Anthony Rizzo (4-4, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB)
The Northsiders were faced with a must-win situation of their own on Sunday after dropping Game 2 of the series and Milwaukee’s wins against the Tigers bringing them into a tie for the Central Division lead. Cubs SP Mike Montgomery allowed 2 runs in the top of the 1st inning and was ultimately removed in favor of RP Allen Webster after 2.1 IP. The Northsiders scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 3rd off Cardinals SP Jack Flaherty, who had been very stingy with baserunners coming into the game (finished season with a 1.11 WHIP). After INF Ben Zobrist put the Cubs on the board with an RBI triple scoring INF Daniel Murphy and came in to score on a wild pitch by Flaherty. INF Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI double to drive in INF Javier Báez, and OF Jason Heyward singled to score Rizzo, giving the Northsiders a 4-2 advantage.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Cubs scored 4 more runs on a 2-run RBI double by INF Kris Bryant and a 2-run HR by C Willson Contreras. During the next inning, the Northsiders added on to their tally thanks to an error by Cardinals RP Dakota Hudson allowing Báez to score along with an RBI single by OF Albert Almora, Jr. to bring in Rizzo.
The offensive production by the Cubs proved to be more than sufficient as they cruised to a 10-5 victory and series win over the Cardinals, which secured a tie with the surging Brewers. The tiebreaker game will begin at 1:05 PM ET at Wrigley Field thanks to the Northsiders’ season series win over the Crew. Support the site by buying your tickets from SeatGeek! The Cubs have announced José Quintana, whose turn in the rotation is up and who also has a history of success against the Brewers, as their starting pitcher. The Crew have yet to announce a starter and there is speculation on social media that they may be choosing to approach the game as a bullpen day.