By: Alex Patt
The Chicago Cubs have won the National League Central title for the second-consecutive year and will play in October for the third time in three years. Their magic number went to zero with a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, and the celebration was on. The magic number went down to one on Monday night after taking the first game in St. Louis, and they failed to clinch Tuesday as they fell 8-7 in game two. The Cubs would have clinched Wednesday no matter what due to the Brewers 6-0 loss to the Reds, but they took care of business before that game was over.
It was a satisfying win, seeing as the Cardinals tortured the Cubs for years as they won many World Series and division titles in front of them, but now the tables have turned. The Cardinals fans Busch Stadium were drowned out by “Lets go Cubbies” chants by the thousands of people in blue in the stands as they watched their team clinch it in enemy territory. Ben Zobrist said that they intended to clinch in St. Louis, and that is what they did.
Looking at the game recap, the Cubs sent John Lackey to the mound to face Michael Wacha. The Cardinals struck first in the second inning with an RBI single by Paul DeJong and threatened to get more before Lackey escaped without further damage. Wacha was cruising the first six innings as he was throwing 98-99 MPH smoke past the Cubs bats, striking out eight in that span. However in the 7th the Cubs finally got to him with five runs which included Addison Russell hitting the game-winning three run home run, and RBIs from Jason Heyward and Tommy LaStella. Things got a little scary in the bottom of the 8th inning with Hector Rondon and Brian Duensing loading the bases, but Carl Edwards Jr. got Dexter Fowler to pop out to Heyward. It all ended in the 9th with two outs and one on as Wade Davis got Randal Grichuk to fly out to deep center to seal the deal.
The locker room was full of spraying bottles of cheap booze but the players still love it. Guys like Jose Quintana got to do it for the first time and others not getting sick of it what so ever. Rizzo certainly isn’t! There was also an awesome moment when the Cubs teammates commemorated John Lackey’s 6.0 IP, 1 run, 3K evening with a shower of beer. Jon Lester said, “Probably his [Lackey’s] last regular season start..” which indicates that Lackey may indeed be retiring after this year is over. But his performance tonight cannot go unnoticed as he pitched really well only giving up two hits and one run.
The Cubs have one more game in St. Louis and a three-game set with the Reds to close out the 2017 regular season. After that it is on to Washington D.C. to take on the Nationals. That starts a week from today. No records are at jeopardy for the remainder of the season, so the last four games are completely meaningless.