It’s October and the Cubs will be playing the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game. The Pirates split the day-night doubleheader with the Cardinals on Wednesday. The Cardinals won the NL Central and the Pirates reduced their magic number to two to host the one-game playoff Wednesday, Oct. 7. The Pirates are off Thursday and take on the the Reds this weekend at PNC Park. The Cubs wrap up their series in Cincinnati Thursday (11:35am CDT) and will spend the weekend at Miller Park.
Starlin Castro had a September to remember that ended with a 4-for-5 night Wednesday that included a double, a home run, two RBI and three runs scored. Castro has hits in nine of the last 10 games he played in with four multi-hit performances. Castro actually leads the team with 12 games of three or more hits this season.
Starlin Castro has not only accepted his new role with the Cubs, he has excelled at it. Castro played in 23 games in September and hit .426/.452/.750 with five doubles, a triple and five home runs for a 1.202 OPS. Since the break, Castro is batting .309/.332/.482/.813 with 13 doubles, a triple and six home runs.
Due to the way he has performed at the plate over his last 48 games, Castro is batting .269/.300/.379 in 147 games this season with 21 doubles, two triples and 11 home runs for a .679 OPS … just a remarkable turnaround.
The Cubs were 19-9 in September, the best record in baseball. With the numbers Starlin Castro put up in September, could the Cubs sweep the NL awards for the month? Jake Arrieta and Kris Bryant should repeat as the National League Pitcher and Rookie of the Month
Jon Lester made his final start of the regular season Wednesday. And it was a good one. Lester retired the last 20 batters he faced after giving up a run on two bloop hits and a sac fly in the first inning. Lester did not allow a baserunner after the second inning and left after eight innings.
Lester also contributed at the plate with a two-out walk in the third inning that flustered Anthony DeSclafani and led to the Cubs first two runs. Lester was on base twice and scored two runs.
Over his last six starts, Lester was 3-2 with a 2.36 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. After the break, Lester went 7-4 in 14 starts with a 3.04 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
For the regular season, Lester was 11-12 in 32 starts with a 3.34 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Lester allowed 83 runs, 76 earned, on 183 hits with 47 walks and 207 strikeouts in 205 innings.
After the game, Lester was not willing to call his start Wednesday his last one of the season. Lester told the beat writers, “We have a few more to go.”
Jon Lester became just the second lefty in the history of the franchise to record 200 or more strikeouts in a single-season. And Lester etched his name in the Cubs History Book when he passed Ken Holtzman for the most strikeouts by a southpaw in a single-season. Holtzman struck out 202 batters in 1970. Lester finished the season with 207 strikeouts.
Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta are just the fourth set of teammates in Cubs’ history to record 200 strikeouts in a single-season … Kerry Wood and Mark Prior (2003), Kerry Wood and Matt Clement (2002) and Ferguson Jenkins and Ken Holtzman (1970).
Wrigley Field Wild Card Viewing Party
Reports surfaced earlier this week that the Cubs were trying to get permission to open Wrigley Field for the NL Wild Card Game to show the game on the video boards if the Cubs did not host the game.
The Cubs announced Wednesday there will not be a Wild Card viewing party at Wrigley Field. The team decided to “put the plan on hold.”
Julian Green said in a statement the Cubs “explored the idea of hosting a NL Wild Card viewing party for fans at Wrigley” but there was not enough time to “successfully execute an exceptional guest experience while actively preparing for potential postseason play.”
News and Notes
• Addison Russell ranks fourth in Major League Baseball in defensive runs saved at second base and at shortstop according to Mark Simon. That makes Russell one of the top five defenders in all of baseball at two different positions.
• Don’t forget to Vote for Anthony Rizzo.
• Click here for a podcast from ESPN Chicago of David Ross interviewing Anthony Rizzo.
• Jon Heyman reported Wednesday RHP Justin Masterson had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. Masterson is expected to be fully recovered by Spring Training.
And last, but not least, here is Tom’s IBWAA ballot for the 2015 season.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs granted Michael Bowden free agency
2013 – Cubs granted Eduardo Sanchez free agency
2008 – Cubs dropped the first game of the NLDS to the Dodgers 7-2.
2002 – Cubs released Jesus Sanchez
1985 – Mitch Atkins, born
1972 – Milt Pappas won his 11th straight game as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 3-0 at Wrigley Field
1967 – Chuck McElroy, born
1956 – Vance Law, born
1940 – Cubs selected Bob Scheffing from the Cardinals in the Rule 5 draft
1938 – Cubs clinched the NL Pennant with a 10-3 victory over the Cardinals in the second game of a doubleheader at St. Louis. Charlie Root pitched a complete game and Billy Herman had four hits.
1932 – Babe Ruth’s Called Shot … Legend has it that Babe Ruth pointed toward the Wrigley Field bleachers and reportedly called his shot. Ruth hit a home run in the fifth inning off Charlie Root in the third game of the World Series. Ruth and Lou Gehrig both hit two home runs in a Cubs 7-5 loss to the Yankees.
1924 – In the first Chicago baseball game ever broadcast on radio with Sen Kaney at the mike for WGN, the Cubs beat the White Sox 10-7 in the City Series opener at Wrigley Field. Second baseman George Grantham drove in four runs with a two-run homer and a two-run single. Whitey Sheely belted two home runs for the White Sox. Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched a complete game for the Cubs, collected two singles and scored two runs. The Cubs lost the series to the Sox, four games to two.
1920 – Grover Cleveland Alexander and the Cardinals Jesse Haines both went the distance in a Cubs 3-2 victory at Wrigley Field that lasted 17 innings.
1908 – Ed Reulbach pitched his fourth straight shutout, 6-0 victory over the Reds, and tied a club record set by Mordecai Brown earlier in the season.
1906 – Ed Reulbach won his 12th straight game in a Cubs 4-3 victory over the Phillies in a game that was called after six innings due to darkness in Philadelphia. Cubs won the first game 4-0 behind Carl Lundgren’s two-hit shutout.