Hey, Hey, Holy Mackerel. No doubt about it. The Cubs are on their way. Hey! Hey!
Today, the Cubs did something they had never done in the 140-year history of the franchise. They clinched a playoff series at home by hitting three more home runs and defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-4 and winning the best-of-five series, 3 games to 1.
The Cubs are going to hit today, they're going to pitch today, they're going to field today.
Many of us had hoped that Jason Hammel would turn out to be a hero today, but no one expected him to contribute the way it did. After Hammel gave up a lead-off single to Matt Carpenter and a two-run home run to Stephen Piscotty, it looked like today was going to be a struggle.
Come what may, the Cubs are going to win today!
But then the Cubs rallied in the second inning. With two on and one out, Miguel Montero had the chance to give the Cubs the lead. But he struck out, and his striking out kept Hammel in the game. Instead of pinch-hitting for his starter, manager Joe Maddon sent Hammel to the plate and he lined John Lackey's first pitch up the middle for an RB single. That kept the inning alive for Javier Baez, who lined Lackey's first pitch to him into the right field bleachers for an opposite field, three-run home run. Lackey's start with three days rest would only last three innings. Then again, Hammel's start with 11 days rest would also only last three innings as both managers went to the bullpen early.
Hey, hey, holy mackerel. No doubt about it. The Cubs are on their way!
You knew it wouldn't be easy. Nothing against the Cardinals is. The Cardinals tied it back up in the sixth inning when Jason Heyward and Jhonny Peralta singled to open up the inning. It looked like the Cubs were going to get out of it when Trevor Cahill struck out Randal Grichuk and Kolten Wong. But then weak-hitting backup catcher Tony Cruz lined a double to right field on a 1-2 pitch to get the Cardinals to within a run. Pinch-hitter Brandon Moss then singled to right field to tie up the game. It would have been worse, but Cardinals Killer Jorge Soler gunned Cruz out a the plate.
They've got the hustle. They've got the muscle. The Chicago Cubs are on their way!
Then in the bottom of the sixth inning, Anthony Rizzo choked up on an 0-2 pitch against left-hander Kevin Siegrist and he clobbered the ball for a go-ahead solo home run. Two innings later, Kyle Schwarber connected off Siegrist for a massive moonshot onto Sheffield Avenue to make it 6-4.
The Cubs put up a threat in the top of the ninth after Kris Bryant led off the inning with a triple. But a failed safety squeeze and a Chris Denorfia bases-loaded, two-out grounder to short ended the threat with the Cubs clinging to a two-run lead.
Rondon came in and pitched the ninth inning for the save. There was much rejoicing.
Maddon went through eight pitchers today. After Hammel, he went to Justin Grimm, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, Fernando Rodney, Clayton Richard, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon for the save.
I've got to go to a parent-teacher conference right now, but I won't need to drive. I'll be able to fly all the way there.