It's a bummer that the Cubs weren't able to clinch the division in St. Louis. But it's also not a bummer at the same time.
I said earlier this week that, really, it doesn't matter. Sure, it would've been nice to have it wrapped up at Busch Stadium in front of a fan base that is, at times, insufferable. But that's really only for petty reasons I suppose.
What's most important is that the Cubs clinch and clinch soon. Today, Anthony Rizzo assisted their cause by helping the Cubs beat the Cardinals and bring their magic number down to just 1 game. That means that they'll have a chance to clinch tomorrow against the Brewers at home. That will be fun.
But for today...
Would you believe me if I told you that Martinez started this game by striking out the side? Sure you would. Then would you also believe me if I told you that Jon Lester had the first RBI of the game? No? Well, he did. Don't call me a liar.
It came in the top of 2nd after Javier Baez hit a double with no outs to get things started. Lester than was able to knock a ball just over second base to get Javy in. Here's your stat of the day:
#Cubs Lester now has 6 RBI, 5 this season
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 14, 2016
Or what about this one:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) September 14, 2016
In the top of the 5th, with Jason Heyward on, David Ross put an absolute charge into a ball. It came on a 1-1 count and ended up over the center field wall and onto the grass in the middle of the seats at Busch. It was his 9th homer of the year, but more importantly it put the Cubs up 3-0 (also the telecast said the homer traveled 429 feet).
This was the game of Rossy, apparently. Earlier in the 1st inning, Ross caught Aledmys Diaz trying to steal 2nd. Then again, in the bottom of the 5th after his homerun, Ross was able to nail another runner (this time Randal Grichuk) trying to swipe 2nd. The Cardinals challenged the 2nd caught-stealing, but lost. Ross is everywhere.
After striking out twice in the game, Anthony Rizzo was down 0-2 to Carlos Martinez in the top of the 6th. The count didn't matter and there would be no such strikeout this time around as he crushed a line drive homerun to right field. This put the Cubs up 4-0 and was Rizzo's 30th of the year. Watch it here:
Jonathan Broxton took over for Martinez in the top of 7th. Martinez started out strong as I mentioned up top, but he started getting knocked around the 3rd time through the lineup. His final line was 6.0 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 4 R, 9 K.
Lester had a little bit better outing (understatement). He was lifted after 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K, and no runs. His ERA is now second best in the majors only to...Kyle Hendricks.
Jorge Soler was brought in to pinch-hit for Lester and was able to get on base. Kris Bryant then hit a liner to Grichuk who tried to dive but was unable to come up with the ball as it trickled to the wall. Soler scored and Bryant ended up on third. It wouldn't matter what base KB ended up on, though, as Rizzo crushed another homer to right and brought the score to 7-0. Statcast had it over 400 feet and leaving the bat at 110 mph (!).
That would be all they needed in this one as they shut out the
mighty Cardinals, hold them to just 3 hits, and decrease their magic number.
Cubs win, holmes.
Jon Lester, baby
He was absolutely brilliant today. But it wasn't just on the mound, he got the game started with his RBI single (he even hit another ball pretty hard right at the left fielder in his next at-bat). He also looked pretty spry getting off the mound defensively, making a couple great plays to get the runner at first. Guess he didn't want to be outdone by Kyle Hendricks, eh (sorry, just got back Toronto)?
What didn't he do? No seriously. I can't think of anything that catcher should do that he didn't do. He caught a great game from Lester, hit for power, and picked off two runners on the bases. That's a solid game.
Here's some food for thought:
Jason Heyward batting .667 since September 14.
— Dan Travis (@riley_daddy) September 14, 2016
Also, he reached 3 times in today's game. I'm really hoping for just about anything out of him at this point offensively. I want to see him succeed so bad and, if he does, this lineup will be even tougher for opposing pitchers this postseason.
Three Stars of the Game:
Third Star: David Ross (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI)
He did everything right.
Second Star: Jon Lester (8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K, and no runs)
Absolutely brilliant today. 8 innings of shutout ball.
First Star: Anthony Rizzo (2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI)
Dingers get you stars.
Magic number: 1