Threeve--Cubs 3 Pirates 0

This one raised the blood pressure on more than a few occasions, but Jon Lester showed once again why he has been worth every penny and then some. The game started inauspiciously with Pablo Reyes hitting an infield single. Javier Báez was able to get to the ball but his throw was offline to Anthony Rizzo to allow Reyes to reach. Lester was fighting his command for most of the night despite a fairly big zone from the home plate umpire. Josh Bell hit a fly ball that Ian Happ tracked down the ball. Francisco Cervelli walked to load the bases. José Osuna swung through a 2-2 pitch for the second out, and a groundball to Báez allowed Lester to escape the bases loaded jam.

Trevor Williams has been very good for the Pirates down the stretch, but the Cubs offense was able to put traffic on the bases often against Williams. Ben Zobrist hit a one out double in the first inning, but remained planted at second base with two outs to end the inning.

Lester was in trouble again in the second inning with Colin Moran hitting a double into left center. Jordy Mercer hit it hard but right at the statue of Daniel Murphy for the first out. Trevor Williams bounced out to Báez and Reyes to Bote for the final out of the inning.

The Cubs half of the second started with a strange play as an easy pop fly ball off the bat of Kyle Schwarber landed a few feet in front of Starling Marte in center. Schwarber didn't bust out of the box and had to settle for a single on the play. Ian Happ hit a single into center to give the Cubs a pair of runners with no outs. Williams punched out Willson Contreras and Jon Lester, and once again the Cubs were in danger of blowing a scoring chance. David Bote pulled a 3-2 pitch down the third base line to clear the bases. Bote reached third on the play, but was left there when Murphy's flyball was caught by Marte.

Lester's pitch count continued to rise quickly. He walked Josh Bell with one out in the third inning. Bell moved into scoring position by stealing second with two outs. Lester looked like he was finally settled in the fourth inning with two quick outs, but Jordy Mercer hit the second infield single for the Buccos. Stubborn Jon didn't give in against the pitcher when perhaps he should have and walked Williams. Lester struck out Reyes for his third and final punchout of the evening to end the fourth.

The bottom half of the inning saw Ian Happ walked to start the inning but was thrown out trying to steal second. It may have been a busted hit and run but either way it was the first of many outs on the basepaths for the Cubs. Contreras pulled a double down the left field line. That spark of life was wiped out when Contreras was easily thrown out on Jon Lester's single. David Bote walked to extend the inning. Daniel Murphy singled up the middle to drive in Lester when the throw was offline. The Cubs now had a three run lead.

Lester did settle in and retired the next six batters he faced to pitch six scoreless frames. The Cubs threatened in the fifth inning. Báez doubled with one out, but he was thrown out when he foolishly tried to advance on a groundball hit to Mercer. Báez at least made the Cubs third TOOTBLAN of the night interesting with a rundown lasting long enough for Schwarber to advance to second this time. An Ian Happ strikeout ended the fifth. That would be it for Williams.

Steve Cishek pitched a clean seventh inning which was a nice sight for sore eyes. Carl Edwards Jr. was given the eighth inning and it wasn't quite as smooth. Starling Marte drew a lead off walk, and things got dicey when David Bote's error allowed Bell to reach. This brought noted Cubs killer Cervelli to the plate, and as expected bounced into a rally killing 6-4-3 double play. Osuna flew out to end the threat.

The Cubs threatened a couple more times but were unable to add to their lead. They probably should have been able to in the eighth inning. Ian Happ reached base yet again with one out. Terrance Gore entered the game and did Terrance Gore things by stealing second on the next pitch thrown. Gore took off again while Contreras was in the batter's box, and Contreras bounced to second on the play. The rare time the Cubs weren't aggressive as Gore didn't attempt to take home on the play. Jason Heyward struck out on a pitch comically far out of the zone to keep a save opportunity for Jesse Chavez.

Chavez has been amazing in a Cubs uniform, and that continued with a fairly drama free ninth inning. A two out single was the only blemish, but an easy groundball out to Rizzo ended the game. The Cubs still control their own destiny.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Random Reference
The magic number is down to threeve.

Comments

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  • The Cubs got it done when it counted. Let's hope they can keep it going against the Cards.

  • That one actually felt pretty easy to me. Lots of fretting about beating Williams tonight, but anything is possible. Look at this season, there really isn't any reason we should be here in first place, but here we are.

    Anyone seen video of the #WrigleyRallyRat from last night's game? Check it out if you haven't, it's hilarious, especially the fans' interaction/reaction. It's a decent metaphor for this season. Facing adversity, setback after setback, but ultimately success due to extreme perseverance.

    Threeve, in some combination. Three victories would be ideal, both to remove any drama and to eliminate the DirtyBirds, crushing their hopes and dreams. Three more, for now. We got a pretty mellow one tonight.

    Thank you! May I have another?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Cervelli coming to the plate with a chance to tie the game with one swing and no outs wasn't exactly pressure free in my estimation, but we've discussed my feelings about Cervelli for a while here. Also the Cubs should have blown the game open earlier if not for giving away two outs in one inning on the basepaths

  • In reply to Mike Banghart:

    There were certainly tense and frustrating moments. The outs given away on the bases. Lester's early pitch count and all the traffic he allowed. And my bottom tightened a bit when Edwards was facing Cervelli after the inning-opening free pass and bad hop. But I just felt calm, especially considering the circumstances. Hard to explain, just happens sometimes.

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    Yes You May!!

  • Yes, the Magic Number for clinching the division is 3. If the Cubs win the division, via any possible combination of 3 Cubs wins and 3 MIL losses, will also have homefield advantage in the NL playoffs.

    There are still 3 teams (StL, LAD, COL) in contention for the last 2 NL playoff spots, and any of 5 teams (Cubs, MIL, StL, LAD, COL) could meet in the WC game. The only thing assured is that either the Cubs or MIL will host that game.

  • Sorry to step on your toes a bit, but it was the funniest thing I could think of at 11 o'clock.

  • Well....they did what they needed to do and that is all we can ask....all we could hope for.....good job!

    Lester wasn’t sharp but he gutted it out....11 years in a row now with 30 starts? Best signing Epstein ever pulled here.

    I am loving me some Jesse Chavez. Our version of a St Louis find and the guy has just been major league since coming here. Pounds the zone and just says go ahead....try.

    This year just hasn’t felt the same....to me they just haven’t played as well as the past years but yet here they are, looking at right around 95 wins and in the playoffs. I want this division so bad! It still looks very possible somebody will be playing Monday somewhere....just hope it ain’t us!

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    That is baseball. You can’t expect everyone to have a career year the same year. Also you can’t expect everyone to be healthy the entire year. That is what happened in 16. This is why it is so hard to repeat. How many teams in the last 25 years have won 2WS in 3 years????

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    By my count, 3 teams. But those good stretches have accounted for 2 out of 2, 4 our of 5, and 3 our of 5, so 12 of those 25 years are accounted for already. Subtract the strike year, so if you wanna get technical about it, it’s happening exactly half the time. Not so difficult I guess... how’s that for the contrarian point of view?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Starting in 92.
    Blue Jays 92 and 93
    Yankees 3 in a row
    Giants every other year 3 times. 10, 12, 14

    3 teams have won 2 WS in a 3 year span? That doesn't seem like half the time? Unless I am missing some teams.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Blue jus dominated for 2 year span

    Yankees won 4 out of 5 so dominated for 5 year span

    Giants won 3 out of 5 so dominated for a 5 year span

    So 2+5+5=12

    There was a strike year, so only 24 seasons, therefore half of the seasons were dominated by 3 teams. What’s so hard to understand there?

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    3 teams "dominated" in a 25 year span. How many teams are in the MLB? That is a hard feat to do. What is hard to understand that very few teams can win multiple WS in a short period of time?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I agree. Good post. Lester has been huge. I wasn’t excited when they traded for Chavy but he’s been great for us. I was super stoked for Hamels acquisition, then Murphy. So I’m 2 outta 3. Ha ha. And how bout Bote... He cooled off before last night, but he’s filled in for Bryant pretty admirably.

    Your right about not feeling the same as 2016. Plenty of reasons why... 3 FA signings either hurt or erratic. Seems games are closer, not putting games away..., 5 game division lead down to 1 w/less than week to go, etc...

    But there’s a host of reasons why it’s not the same.

  • Lester = Huevos Grande

    Love that guy. He had nothing last night and went 6 innings and 0 ER. Amazing.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Lester will always be the guy that signed and believed. But, he looked like Yadi lumbering in on that single last night !!!!

  • The Cubs fan in me wants to see them win out, obviously.

    The baseball fan in me is salivating at the theater of a Cubs-Brewers tie, and a 3-way tie among COL-LAD-STL.

    Cubs Brewers play in, loser goes to the WC.
    Dodgers Rockies play in, loser faces the Cardinals for the final WC spot. Longshot, but it's possible LA or COL could play 3 straight play-in games on 3 consecutive days.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I get the suspense and excitement, but I just can't get on board with this scenario. For the Brewers, just winning the WC is success. For the Cubs, it represents (IMO) a failure. This team has the talent, experience, management and money to dominate. I'd really like to see them take control of their own destiny.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    Right? How terrible ( but great for us fans) would it be for Colorado to end up tied w the Dodgers.

    Monday. Rockies @ Dodgers for NL West ( assume Rockies L)

    Tuesday Rockies @ Cardinals for 2nd WC ( assume Rockies W)

    Wed Rockies at Brewers Wild Card game ( Assume Rockies W)

    Thur and Friday at Wrigley vs the Cubs

    Not even counting Sunday game in Colorado vs the Nats and possibly Mad Max !

    5 games in 5 days in 5 diff cities !

    How crazy would that be? Doubt it happens as I don't think the Cards are going anywhere but fishing.

  • This team is pretty awesome! There are new guys stepping up for each of the last three wins now.

    Thursday, Bote had the clutch two out, two run triple to give the Cubs the lead, and Lester came through with 6 no-run innings. Maybe not dominant, but masterful.

    On Wednesday, it was Q's turn to pitch solidly enough to hand the game to the pen with a 4 run lead. Heyward hit the huge homer, 3 RBIs total, and Almora with the game-winner (again with two outs).

    The previous win, it was the two Kyles who were the heroes.

    Who will step up this weekend? It will be fun to see.

  • Nervous about this cardinals series, they are desperate and play the cubs tough. Would like a sweep to have momentum heading into October and so there’s no possibility of tiebreaker games.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Break their back today and they just lay there the next two. Need to jump on them early and often this afternoon.

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