The Cubs posted win No. 91 on Monday night when Chris Denorfia made history with his pinch-hit walk-off homer in the 11th inning for a 1-0 victory over the Royals. The Cubs moved to within 3 ½ games of the Pirates for home field in the NL Wild Card Game. The Pirates gave the opener to the Cardinals. St. Louis is one win away from the NL Central crown while Pittsburgh’s magic number for the top Wild Card in the NL is three.
The Pirates have two games left with the Cardinals before wrapping up the season against the Reds with three games over the weekend. It’s not likely the Cubs catch the Pirates, but it’s not over till it’s over.
Kris Bryant was all over the field on Monday night. Bryant became the first player in the majors this season to play four different positions in the same game. Bryant started at first base to give Anthony Rizzo a breather, moved to center field and then to right field. Bryant finished the game at third base.
Joe Maddon said Monday that he wanted to “try some things” this week and that included playing Kris Bryant at first base and batting Tommy La Stella clean-up. Maddon told the beat writers he’s “always thought it would be interesting to see K.B. at first base.” Maddon went to Bryant and he was good with playing first base. Bryant worked with Gary Jones pre-game at the position. Bryant had not played first base since college and in the Cape Cod League. Bryant did not use a first baseman’s glove.
According to multiple reports, Kris Bryant could be a short-term option in center field. The Cubs are expected to make Dexter Fowler a qualifying offer. If Fowler turns down the offer and signs with another team, the Cubs could turn to Bryant for next season while players in the system, like Albert Almora, continue their development. Bryant has played all three outfield spots and Maddon feels comfortable with Bryant in center field. And really any of the five positions Bryant has played this season.
Offensively, Bryant has stayed hot at the plate. Bryant is batting .357/.400/.602 over his last 25 games with nine doubles and five home runs for a 1.002 OPS. Since the break, Bryant has hit .295/.367/.535 with 17 doubles, a triple and 14 home runs for a .903 OPS.
According to Jon Paul Morosi, Bryant would be the third rookie this century that progressed through a minor league system with 100 RBI. Albert Pujols (2001) and Ryan Zimmerman (2006) are the other two to accomplish the feat.
Chris Denorfia made history Monday night with his pinch-hit walk-off home run in the 11th inning. Denorfia launched the first pitch he saw from Miguel Almonte into the left field bleachers. Denorfia became the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit a pinch-hit walk-off homer in extra innings of a 1-0 game according to ESPN.
As a pinch-hitter this season, Denorfia is 11-for-33 with four doubles, a triple and a home run (.333/.371/.606) for a .977 OPS. Denorfia has walked two times with seven strikeouts.
Denorfia had a walk-off sacrifice fly in a 1-0 win on June 23 and the walk-off home run in a 1-0 victory on Monday night.
For the season, Chris Denorfia is batting .274/.323/.383 with 11 doubles, a triple and three home runs for a .706 OPS.
Trevor Cahill put together another good outing out of the Cubs’ bullpen on Monday night. Cahill gave up a hit with three strikeouts and faced the minimum in two innings.
Cahill has appeared in nine games for the Cubs and allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and 19 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings (1.76 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 2.49 FIP). Cahill has not allowed any runs in seven of his nine games out of the Cubs’ pen this month.
The Cubs announced Monday that Dan Haren, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel would start the three games in Cincinnati. Haren takes on Josh Smith on Tuesday night (6:10pm CDT). Lester and Anthony DeSclafani square off Wednesday (6:10pm CDT) and the series wraps up with Hammel and John Lamb on Thursday morning (11:35am CDT).
The Cubs have not addressed the starters for the Brewers series. Jake Arrieta is expected to stay in his routine and start Friday night in Milwaukee. Unless changes are made, here is how the starters for final six games of the regular season lines up:
- Sept. 29: Reds – Dan Haren
- Sept. 30: Reds – Jon Lester
- Oct. 1: Reds – Jason Hammel
- Oct. 2: Brewers – Jake Arrieta
- Oct. 3: Brewers – Kyle Hendricks
- Oct. 4: Brewers – Dan Haren
Jake Arrieta would be able to start the Wild Card game on Oct. 7 on regular rest.
The playoff-bound Chicago Cubs had a very good regular season at Wrigley Field and saw an increase in attendance even with the bleacher construction that took place early in the year.
2,959,812 fans walked through the gates at Wrigley that is an increase of 307,699 from a year ago (2,652,113 in 2014).
The left field bleachers did not open until May and it was June before the bleachers in right field was ready for occupancy. Without a doubt, the Cubs would have drawn over 3 million had the bleachers been ready in April.
The Cubs finished the regular season with a 49-32 record at Wrigley, the most home wins for the Cubs since the 2008 team went 55-26.
According to multiple reports Monday, Tom Ricketts said the team is talking about opening Wrigley for the Wild Card Game if the Cubs play the Pirates at PNC. Ricketts said Monday no plans are in place but the Cubs are considering it.
News and Notes
• The Cubs honored Willson Contreras and Ryan Williams prior to Monday’s game. Contreras and Williams are the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.
• Kyle Hendricks stated his case for the post-season Monday night according to ESPN Chicago.
• Dale Sveum was back at Wrigley on Monday night and talked to the beat writers about the playoff-bound Cubs. Sveum was the Cubs’ skipper when the team acquired Jake Arrieta and he admitted Monday he did not understand at the time how the Orioles could give him up. Sveum is the reason Chris Bosio and Mike Borzello were hired by the Cubs and joked Monday that without Bosio and Borzello the team might have lost 125 games in 2012. And when asked about the Cubs winning 90 games this season, Sveum said, “I don’t know if anybody would have saw it coming that fast.”
• With Monday’s shutout of the Royals, the Cubs have shutout the opposition 20 times this season, the fourth time since 1914 the Cubs have pitched 20 shutouts in a single season. The Cubs shut out the Pirates and Royals on back-to-back days, two playoff-bound teams. The 20 shutouts for the 2015 pitching staff is the most for a Cubs team since the 1969 squad had 22 shutouts. Christopher Kamka broke down the starters for the 20 shutouts: Jake Arrieta (8), Kyle Hendricks (4), Jon Lester (3), Jason Hammel (2), Travis Wood (1), Dan Haren (1) and Tsuyoshi Wada (1).
• MLB officials have been inspecting Wrigley Field in anticipation of home playoff games according to a report from the Tribune.
• The Cubs lead the majors in walk-off wins this season, the 13 walk-off victories are the most for a Cubs team since 1932.
• According to CBS Chicago, the Cubs are the talk of the town after clinching post-season berth.
• The Mariners hired Jerry DiPoto to be the team’s GM on Monday.
And last, but not least, Starlin Castro’s walkup music is so catchy, Alyson Footer reported, that everyone at Wrigley Field claps along.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Cubs granted Eli Whiteside free agency
2011 – Cubs granted Brad Snyder free agency
2001 – Cubs hit three home runs on three consecutive pitches from the Astros’ Dave Mlicki. Fred McGriff, Rondell White and Todd Hundley hit back-to-back-to-back jacks in Cubs 6-2 win over Houston.
1993 – Donnie Dewees, born
1991 – Cubs traded Damon Berryhill and Mike Bielecki to the Braves for Yorkis Perez and Turk Wendell
1988 – Cubs traded Jody Davis to the Braves for Kevin Blankenship and Kevin Coffman
1986 – Greg Maddux squared off against Mike Maddux in the first game in big league history started by brothers. Greg beat Mike and the Phillies 6-3.
1974 – Ron Santo played his final game in the big leagues. During his 15-year career, Santo hit .277/.362/.464 with 365 doubles, 67 triples, 342 home runs and a .826 OPS.
1960 – Rob Deer, born
1957 – Craig Lefferts, born
1945 – Paul Gillespie became the first of only two players in baseball history ever to hit home runs in their first and last big league at bat. The Cubs reserve catcher went deep against the Giants at the Polo Grounds on Sept. 11, 1942 and ended his career with a home run at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.
1935 – Augie Galan played his 154th game of the season for the Cubs without hitting into a double play. Galan set the Major League record in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals at St. Louis.
1926 – Charlie Root limited the White Sox to four hits as the Cubs won the City Series opener, 6-0, at Wrigley Field.