It is hard to find the motivation to describe this one. It was a loss that is eveyr bit as painful as the scoreline indicates. The Cubs lost total control over their fate. I suppose that isn't completely true because they do still control their fate, but the possibility of the nightmare scenario of a game 163 tiebreaker for the division. Then having to play in the Wild Card game and if the Cubs are lucky a game 1 in the NLDS in quick succession.
The game started out so promisingly. Cole Hamels was spectacular to start the game. He retired the first nine Cards in order. He had a "mere" three strikeouts in his first turn, but it was again that elite Hamel shoving on the mound. I don't know what is different about pitching in Chicago for Hamels, but any hope the Cubs have rests on the revived starting pitching.
The Cubs struck first with a little help from the Cardinals defense. Miles Mikolas was every bit as good as he has been this season. Ben Zobrist hit a one out single to give the Cubs a glimpse of hope, but Anthony Rizzo flied out for the second out. Javier Báez hit a pop fly that Yairo Muñoz raced to catch but helplessly watched in clank off of his glove. The ball skipped away from Tyler O'Neill allowing Zobrist to race home for the first tally. Mikolas would scatter another four hits over eight strong innings. He didn't allow an earned run in the quality outing.
Matt Carpenter started the fourth inning, and hit an easy bouncer for the apparent first out. However, Victor Caratini reached out a little too far and was called for catcher's interference. José Martínez drew a walk, and Paul DeJong smacked a run scoring single into left field. The game was tied with the go ahead run in scoring position. Hamels punched out Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina for the first two outs. The Gyork Store was out of hits in the fourth as Jedd Gyorko grounded into the final out.
The fifth inning began with Hamels plunking Harrison Bader. Muñoz drew a walk to again give the Carinals two on with no outs on zero hits. Mikolas struck out swinging, and Matt Carpenter battled Cole Hamels in the next at bat. Carpenter took a close 2-2 pitch that the home plate umpire flinched on. Instead it was called ball 3, and on the next pitch Carpenter drove in the go ahead run. Hamels pitched through the seventh inning allowing just three hits.
The Cubs placed runners on, but twice hard hit balls turned into lineout double plays in back to back innings. In the third inning Daniel Murphy poked a one out single, but he was erased on Ben Zobrist's lineout double play. The bottom of the fourth inning saw Kris Bryant hit a ball right at Matt Carpenter for an inning ending double play. The Cubs did not draw a single free pass in the game. The Cubs only managed a single single after the fourth inning. The sixth inning lead off base hit from Daniel Murphy was the last gasp of the sputtering offense.
The Cubs bullpen tandem of Steve Cishek and Jesse Chavez pitched two scoreless frames to keep the Cubs in the ballgame, but the offense couldn't manage anything. Carlos Martinez slammed the door on the Cubs. It is a final in Milwaukee and it is indeed a tie a top the National League Central. Super.
The Cubs had the division for most of the season, but they find themselves tied heading into game 162 of the season. So a potential third straight National League Central crown might be this for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. Or maybe win 95 will push the Cubs straight into the NLDS for a fourth straight year.