After losing Game 1 of the Wild Card Series by a score of 5-1 on Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs faced elimination for the third postseason since their 2016 World Series championship.
Cy Young Award candidate Darvish took the hill for the Cubs with the season on the line. He pitched six shutout innings but allowed a home run to Garrett Cooper which broke the scoreless tie, followed by an insurance RBI single to Magneuris Sierra.
Darvish’s Marlins counterpart, the young flamethrower Sánchez, pitched five scoreless innings to secure the victory, striking out six Cubs batters.
The Cubs failed to cash in on several scoring chances, stranding nine runners and were 1-8 with runners in scoring position. Out of the Cubs 1-4 batters, Ian Happ was the only one to record a hit. He was 2-4 with one strikeout.
The Marlins advanced to face the Atlanta franchise in the National League Division Series. The other Division Series will be contested between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers in an NL West Division grudge match.
The Northsiders have failed to advance beyond the Wild Card round for the second straight postseason. With Anthony Rizzo‘s contract expiring this year and no extension offered, 2020 may have been the last opportunity for the 2016 championship group of Cubs stars to make another title run together.
As Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein heads into the final year of his contract with the team, the Northsiders face an uncertain future. The offense has repeatedly faltered late in the season, despite despite several coaching staff shakeups over the last few offseasons. Javier Baéz and Kris Bryant will become free agents in 2022 and the team could decide to trade them for prospects, initiating a new rebuild process.
While the Cubs have enjoyed an unprecedented run of recent success, the Ricketts family’s decision to limit spending on baseball operations while expanding their real estate portfolio show continued dominance of the Central Division is no longer a priority. Cubs fans should take a look back and reflect on what they have enjoyed about the 2015-2020 period, because we may not see this type of success again for quite some time.
Featured Image: View of center field scoreboard flags at Wrigley Field from behind the stadium. Thomas Barrat / Shutterstock.com