The Cubs gained ground in the division Saturday with the 5-4 win over the Cardinals and put the pressure on the Pirates to beat the Dodgers in order to maintain their place at the top of the NL Wild Card race. Francisco Liriano outpitched Clayton Kershaw and the Pirates won 3-2.
The Cubs lead for the second Wild Card increased to 10 full games when the Diamondbacks shutout the Giants again.
The Cubs will enter play Sunday one game behind the Pirates in the standings and five games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Joe Maddon reiterated his team’s goal. “Our biggest concern is to catch them. Pirates first, the Cardinals second. We have time to do that and that’s where our focus is.”
When Kris Bryant followed Jorge Soler in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game with a solo homer that almost ended up on Waveland Avenue, Bryant matched Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams franchise record for the most home runs by a rookie in a single season. Billy Williams hit 25 home runs in 1961.
Kris Bryant said he was humbled by just being mentioned in the same sentence as Billy Williams. Bryant has gotten to know him this season due to his involvement with the team.
Billy Williams played in 146 games in 1961 and batted .278/.338/.484 with 20 doubles, seven triples and 25 home runs for a .822 OPS. Williams was the NL Rookie of the Year.
In 138 games this season, Kris Bryant has hit .275/.369/.499 with 29 doubles, five triples and 25 home runs for a .868 OPS.
Here is another look at the play Addison Russell made to end Saturday’s game, this one received the Statcast treatment. Russell is so smooooooth at shortstop. And the video includes Pat Hughes’ call.
News and Notes
• Starlin Castro has hit safely in nine of the 10 games he has started this month. And Castro has multiple hits in six of those 10 games. Castro is batting .405/.432/.714 (17-for-42) with a double and four home runs over his last 14 games with a 1.146 OPS.
• Anthony Rizzo talked about the Cardinals throwing at him Friday prior to Saturday’s game. Rizzo admitted he wanted to kill someone after he was hit according to Comcast SportsNet.
• ESPN Chicago: Hector Rondon, Joe Maddon ejected as Cubs hold on versus Cardinals
• Comcast SportsNet reported that Joe Maddon was tirade-free after ejections against the Cardinals.
• Travis Wood is gaining confidence as Cubs’ season hits most pivotal point according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• Jimmy Nelson will not make his scheduled start against the Cubs on Tuesday. Nelson was struck in the head by a line drive Thursday and was released from the hospital on Saturday. Nelson is scheduled to be re-examined by a neurologist on Monday. The Brewers announced they will cover Nelson’s spot in the rotation with a bullpen day.
• Joel Sherman reported Royals’ missing piece is missing what made him a commodity.
• According to a report from Paul Sullivan, ‘The Plan’ is falling into place for Theo Epstein and the Cubs.
• Kris Bryant delivered the quote of the day following the 5-4 win over the Cardinals on Saturday. Bryant said, “We don’t just want to settle for the Wild Card. We want it all.”
This Day In Cubstory
2009 – Cubs suspended Milton Bradley for the remainder of the season.
2008 – The Cubs won the National League Central Division title with a 5-4 victory over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Jim Edmonds caught the last out in a game that was started by Ted Lilly and saved by Kerry Wood. It was the Cubs second division title in two seasons, and marked the first time since 1906-08 the Cubs went to the post-season in consecutive years.
1972 – Milt Pappas won his 200th game with a 6-2 complete game victory over the Expos at Wrigley Field. Pappas became the first pitcher to reach 200 victories without a 20-win season.
1953 – Ernie Banks hit the first home run of his career off Gerry Staley in the eighth inning, but the Cubs lost 11-6 to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
1953 – Gene Baker made his Major League Debut, joining his double play partner, shortstop Ernie Banks. Banks and Baker played together with the Kansas City Monarchs.
1932 – The Cubs clinched the National League Pennant with a 5-2 victory over the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Guy Bush pitched a complete game for his 19th victory of the season. Kiki Cuyler delivered a bases clearing triple in the seventh inning.
1932 – Billy Herman collected his 200th hit of the season in the Cubs 5-2 victory over the Pirates.
1924 – Grover Cleveland Alexander won his 300th game in a 7-3 victory in 12 innings over the Giants in New York.
1882 – Larry Corcoran pitched his second no-hitter, a 5-0 victory over Worchester at Lakefront Park.