The Cubs split Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader with the Pirates. At the end of the long day of baseball, the Cubs did not gain or lose ground to the Pirates in the Wild Card race. The Cubs gave back game one and Jon Lester pitched the Cubs past the Pirates in the nightcap.
The Giants lost 9-8 to the Reds in 10 innings and fell 7 ½ games behind the Cubs, eight in the loss column, while the Cardinals topped the Brewers 3-1 in 10 innings.
The Cubs will enter play Wednesday night in Pittsburgh four behind the Pirates and seven back of the Cardinals with 18 games left on the schedule.
Even with the sizeable lead for the second Wild Card in the National League, Theo Epstein doesn’t take it for granted the Cubs will make the playoffs after what happened to the Red Sox four years ago.
“Until you get the little ‘c’ next to your name in the standings, nothing is assured. After living through 2011, I don’t take anything for granted. I’m aware of how momentum in September can take on a life of its own and affect the standings, so it’s important to keep focused on that day’s game, keep knocking your wins, storing them, and take care of your own business and things will be okay.”
The Wild Card Games
Among the topics Theo Epstein discussed with the beat writers prior to Tuesday’s twin bill with the Pirates was the one-game Wild Card format. And Epstein said he proposed “making the Wild Card format a three-game series with the first two played as a doubleheader.”
Epstein acknowledged the one game “is really good for TV, but maybe there’s other ways to appeal to TV, give them a little more substance to that round of the playoffs.” Epstein said the doubleheader was discussed before it was rejected.
Epstein pointed out that it is important to play the Wild Card round quickly so the teams that win their division do not sit too long and “get cold; it’s not fair to them.” Epstein thinks “the commissioner and his people have a really good feel for sort of how to appeal to people and also what’s fair and respects the integrity of the regular season.” And he feels that “they’re open-minded” enough that it “evolves over the years, maybe in the next CBA.”
Theo Epstein is fine with the way the game is now.
Quotes and Reports – Game One of Doubleheader
• Joe Maddon: “We’ve lost that games several times already.”
• Joe Maddon: “We have to do a better job in the latter part of the game with the bullpen. The walks are killing us. We have to do a better job of forcing the other team to beat us as opposed to self-inflicted wounds.”
• Justin Grimm told the Sun-Times he is “trying to be too fine with pitches, needs to be aggressive again.” Grimm said, “I’ve just got to find my confidence.”
• Jason Hammel: “Pretty embarrassing. It pisses me off. I’m a starter … set the tone … and I haven’t done it in a while.”
• The Sun-Times: Cubs lost on ugly eighth versus likely playoff foe.
• Comcast SportsNet: October issues for Cubs exposed in game one loss to Pirates.
Quotes and Reports – Game Two of Doubleheader
• Jon Lester: “When I signed here, I envisioned winning a World Series. Not just playing September baseball.”
• Sun-Times: Jon Lester pitches a fall classic for Cubs in big win over Bucs.
• Comcast SportsNet: This is nice for the Cubs, but Jon Lester signed up to win the World Series.
News and Notes
• From Christopher Kamka: Jon Lester has 11 starts this season of seven-plus innings in which he has allowed one or no runs, the most such starts in a single season for a Cubs lefty since Ken Holtzman had 11 in 1969. The most strikeouts in a season by a Cubs lefty: 202 by Ken Holtzman (1970), 195 by Hippo Vaughn (1917), 185 by Jon Lester (2015) and 185 by Dick Ellsworth (1963).
• Javier Baez pinch hit in the ninth inning of game one Tuesday and stepped into the box wearing a protective extension on his batting helmet. Baez wore the same extension in the night game and was asked if he was okay after the Cubs 2-1 victory. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Baez is “wearing the face guard on his batting helmet because he had some dental work done.” Baez said it was “no big deal.”
• Kyle Schwarber entered play Tuesday with 16 home runs in 52 big league games. Schwarber is the first player in Cubs’ history to hit 16 homers in his first 52 games in the majors.
• The Tribune reported Anthony Rizzo is big reason for Cubs’ turnaround, dreams of taking team to promised land.
• Ken Rosenthal attempted to sort out the NL Central Division.
• For the Cubs the question remains, according to ESPN Chicago, what about the pitching depth?
• According to the Tribune, Addison Russell is the George Harrison of the Cubs’ rookies and Russell’s move to shortstop coincided with surge at the plate.
• Scott Boras knows what 20 wins could mean for Cubs and Jake Arrieta according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• According to a report from the Tribune, Gerrit Cole has bigger things on his mind than facing Jake Arrieta in a Wild Card game.
And last, but not least, former Giants, Cubs and Reds skipper Dusty Baker will be a post-season analyst on TBS joining Pedro Martinez and Gary Sheffield in pre- and post-game shows.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Jake Arrieta allowed one hit in a 7-0 victory over the Reds, a Brandon Phillips double in the eighth. Arrieta struck out 13.
2013 – Cubs released Cody Ransom
2000 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 50 and joined Mark McGwire as the only two players in MLB history to hit 50 or more home runs in three straight seasons.
1998 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 63 in a 6-3 victory over the Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium. Sosa drove in all six runs and the 63rd longball of the season was a Grand Slam.
1992 – Cubs beat the Phillies 14-9 and Greg Maddux earned his 18th win of the season. Andre Dawson collected four hits, including a home run. Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson and Rick Wilkins hit home runs. Mark Grace was charged with an error, ending his streak of 102 games without an error.
1972 – Ellie Hendricks drew five of the Cubs 15 walks and Burt Hooton hit a Grand Slam off Tom Seaver in an 18-5 Cubs victory over the Mets at Wrigley Field.
1961 – Mark Parent, born
1960 – Mel Hall, born
1935 – The Cubs posted their 12th win in a row with an 8-3 victory over the Giants behind Lon Warneke.
1934 – Phil Cavarretta made his Major League debut. Cavarretta went 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter for Billy Jurges. Cavarretta was just 18 years old.
1909 – President William Howard Taft was among the crowd of 27,000 at West Side Grounds as Christy Mathewson and the Giants edged Mordecai Brown and the Cubs 2-1.