The Cubs used small ball, a two-run blast from Jorge Soler, a solid effort from Kyle Hendricks and excellent performances out of the pen from Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill and Hector Rondon on Saturday to even the National League Division Series with the Cardinals at a game apiece. Four of the Cubs six runs in Game 2 scored without a ball leaving the infield. And the Cubs took the lead in the second inning on back-to-back squeeze bunts.
Game 3 is Monday at Wrigley Field in what is now a best of three series.
The Cubs did what they had to and split the two games at Busch Stadium. Anthony Rizzo said after Saturday’s game the Cubs do not plan on going back to St. Louis.
Jake Arrieta faces Michael Wacha in Game 3 and Jason Hammel is still penciled in to start Game 4 on Tuesday at Wrigley.
Reports from Game 2 of NLDS
The Cubs made it a best of three series Saturday when they stunned the Cardinals and the Busch Stadium crowd with back-to-back squeeze bunts while taking advantage of the Redbirds’ mistakes in the second inning. The Cardinals won a lot of games during the regular season doing exactly what the Cubs did to them on Saturday.
- Comcast SportsNet: Sitting Kyle Schwarber pays off for Joe Maddon in Game 2
- Comcast SportsNet: Cubs put the pressure back on Cardinals with Jake Arrieta up next
- ESPN Chicago: Joe Maddon has magic touch with bullpen as Cubs tie Cardinals
- The Sun-Times: Cubs bullpen flushes Friday, locks down big playoff win Saturday
- Jayson Stark: Joe Maddon’s Chicago Cubs put a squeeze on October
- ESPN Stats and Info: The Cubs are the first team to have two squeeze bunts in the same post-season game.
- ESPN Stats and Info: Kyle Hendricks became the first Cubs pitcher to drive in a run with a sacrifice bunt in the post-season since Ed Reulbach in Game 2 of the 1906 World Series.
- Joe Maddon told the beat writers Saturday that “he thinks of Don Zimmer when small ball stuff works.”
Dexter Fowler is one of the big reasons for the Cubs success after the break and he set to become a free agent in November. The Cubs will make a qualifying offer ($15.8 million) to Fowler and it’s likely he will turn it down and hit free agency. Fowler was asked about returning to the Cubs for next season.
Fowler told the Tribune he has not thought about beyond this season. He is focused on the playoffs and helping the Cubs win games.
Fowler said, “I believe God has a process and at the end of the day if this is where I need to be, this is where I need to be. I’m taking it day by day, and right now I’m just focused on winning.”
Jed Hoyer said Fowler has been a great fit for the Cubs and doesn’t know what the future holds with him. It’s not the right time to discuss it but the Cubs would love to have him back.
Dexter Fowler saw the seventh most pitches in baseball this season according to Bill Chuck. And while he hit only .250 for the year, he had an on-base percentage of .346 and he batted .272/.389/.463 after the break with a .852 OPS.
In three post-season games, Fowler is 5-for-13 with a double, a home run, two RBI and four runs scored … and 5-for-9 with a double, a home run, two RBI and four runs scored in the two games the Cubs have won. As Fowler goes, so does the Cubs.
Jorge Soler has made quite the impression in the first two games of the NLDS. With the way Soler has looked at the plate he is forcing Joe Maddon to play him.
In five plate appearances in the NLDS, Jorge Soler is 2-for-2 with a double, a home run and three walks.
Jorge Soler credited Manny Ramirez for his turnaround. And Maddon pointed to Ramirez being in Soler’s “ear all the time.”
Soler said Saturday, “Before I got hurt, it felt like I was swinging at too many bad pitches, and when I came back, I’ve been talking to Manny Ramirez about how to stay in the zone and he’s helped me out a lot with that. Right now, I’m just trying to get my at bats and working good counts and trying to get ahead in counts.”
Manny Ramirez told ESPN Chicago that Soler is more relaxed and said he talks to Soler “all the time about being ready and staying patient.”
Maddon indicated when he saw Soler go from first to third in the ninth inning of Friday’s game he knew Soler was ready for the post-season.
According to Ace of MLB Stats, Jorge Soler became the youngest Cuban-born player in baseball history to hit a home run in a post-season game when he launched the two-run shot to center off Jaime Garcia in the second inning of Saturday’s game.
NLDS Game 4
Game 4 of the NLDS is Tuesday and the Cardinals may have to go a different route for a starting pitcher.
Lance Lynn was scheduled to start Game 4 but Mike Matheny used him for the third inning Saturday. The Cardinals said Lynn would likely start Game 4 despite pitching Saturday because it was Lynn’s throw day. Matheny could turn to John Lackey on short rest depending on what happens Monday in Game 3.
Jason Hammel is still a possibility for the Cubs to start Game 4, but not Jon Lester.
Joe Maddon said prior to Saturday’s game that the Cubs are not planning to start Lester on short rest for Game 4.
Cubs TV Ratings
The Cubs in the post-season is good business for TBS.
According to David Haugh, Game 1 of the Cubs-Cardinals NLDS “earned a 27.8 rating in St. Louis, the best local rating for an LDS Game 1 ever.” In Chicago, Game 1 had a 16.8 rating.
Game 1 between the Cubs and Cardinals was the most viewed NLDS Game 1 since 2008. According to TBS, there were 5.4 million total viewers for the opening game between the Cubs and Cardinals.
News and Notes
• Ken Rosenthal dug a little deeper on the Cubs’ issues with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi on Friday night. And what Rosenthal reported is rather interesting. Phil Cuzzi has been the home plate umpire in a Cubs game four times this season. Cuzzi was behind the plate when Trevor Bauer and Yordano Ventura faced the Cubs, plus the day Cole Hamels broke The Streak. According to Rosenthal, “the Cubs scored a total of one run, managed just 11 hits and struck out 42 times, a 33.1 percent strikeout rate compared to their 24.5 percent rate overall.” The Cubs strikeout rate with Cuzzi calling balls and strikes is “the worst by any team with any plate umpire this season.”
• Bruce Levine asked, will this Cubs team be burdened by the past, or bathe in its own self-created glory?
And last, but not least, Pedro Martinez named Jorge Soler his ‘Daddy’ for Saturday. Pedro explained, “Soler is a good looking young man, strong like a mule and he plays for the Cubbies.”
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Cubs officially broke ground on The 1060 Project, the Restoration and Expansion of Wrigley Field
2013 – Cubs granted free agency to Thomas Neal
1994 – Pirates selected Mark Parent off waivers from the Cubs
1984 – Max Ramirez, born
1951 – Cubs traded Jack Cusick to the Braves for Bob Addis
1948 – Phillies purchased Russ Meyer from the Cubs for $20,000
1929 – Cubs beat the Athletics 3-1 in game three of the World Series at Shibe Park. Guy Bush outpitched George Earnshaw for the Cubs only win in the series. The Cubs victory over the A’s was the first win for a NL team over an AL team in the World Series since 1926.
1911 – Frank Schulte was named the first National League MVP. Schulte and Ty Cobb received cars for being the first ever league most valuable players. The MVP award was known as the Chalmers Award and was sponsored by Chalmers Automotive, a Detroit based company.
1908 – Joe Tinker hit the first Cubs home run in World Series play in the 6-1 victory over the Tigers in game two of the series.
1907 – Cubs beat the Tigers 6-1 behind Orval Overall in game four of the World Series.
1906 – Cubs lost game three of the World Series 3-0 at West Side Grounds. White Sox’s Ed Walsh struck out 12 batters in the shutout.