The Cubs can clinch their first playoff berth since 2008 by ending the Pirates’ six-game win streak to start this three-game set in a potential NL wild-card game preview.
“We’ll hopefully celebrate tomorrow and have a good time”, said Lester, who like Maddon was not planning to stay up. And if Maddon slept through the night, he woke up to a nice surprise. They will also clinch a spot if the San Francisco Giants lose their game against Oakland Friday night.
On Friday, the Pirates hung on for their seventh straight win and increased their lead for the NL’s top wild card to 4 1/2 games over the Cubs.
The Cubs looked like legitimate contenders in beating the Pirates three times in roughly 50 hours and winning this four-game showdown series.
Neil Walker, the Pirates’ second baseman who tossed the ball to Kang to start the double play, chimed in: “We’re taught to go in hard; we’re taught to go in to get the guy off their feet”.
No matter, the Chicago Cubs did what they’ve done every time Arrieta has pitched over the past six weeks: they won.
Skipper Joe Maddon opted to pull Castro from third and bring in speedy outfielder Quintin Berry to run for him with Jorge Soler and Javier Baez expected to come to the plate next.
Still, it was a somber day in what has been, for the most part, a special season for the Pirates. He gave up two first-inning runs, continuing a trend of putting his team in an early hole as his first-inning ERA for the season is now 5.59. The Pirates added a run in the eighth against Pedro Strop when Jordy Mercer reached on a wild pitch as he struck out leading off and scored from third on a grounder by Starling Marte. Still, you’d like to stand behind your young starter who displayed a ton of potential just a year ago.
The postseason-bound Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to use this weekend to ensure they won’t open the playoffs there.
CC Sabathia (5-9, 4.80 ERA) looks to build on his late-season resurgence as the Yankees continue a four-game series against the White Sox. The 31-year-old is coming off a solid outing, as he held the Los Angeles Dodgers to two runs and struck out nine over seven innings in a win last Saturday, but he hasn’t posted consecutive quality starts since July. Lester is 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA and 21 strikeouts in his career against the Pirates.