That was fun. Shall we do it again on Friday in St. Louis?
The Cubs behind Jake Arrieta, Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 to win the National League Wild Card Game. It was the Cubs first postseason win since game 4 of the 2003 NLCS and it broke a streak of nine straight losses.
The Pirates have done nothing against Arrieta all season long and tonight was no different. So when Fowler led off the game with a single to center field, then stole second and scored on a Schwarber opposite field single, things looked very good for the Cubs. But when Fowler singled again with one out in the third inning and then Schwarber crushed one into the Allegheny River to make it 3-0, things looked hopeless for the Bucs.
Arrieta cruised along and with one out in the top of the fifth, Fowler hit a long fly ball that just reached the seats in right-center field to make it 4-0.
Here's where the game got ugly. Pinch-hitter Travis Snider led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a single. Kris Bryant had moved to third base when Austin Jackson replaced Tommy La Stella in the lineup and he made a juggling catch on a hard line drive off the bat of Gregory Polanco. Next up, Arrieta hit Josh Harrison with an 85 mph slider (remember that) and the Pirates got their first rally of the game going with Andrew McCutchen coming to the plate. McCutchen hit a groundball to shortstop Addison Russell that he bobbled and was ruled an error. A tough error, if you ask me. But now the bases were loaded and Cubs fans began to sweat.
One guy who didn't sweat was Arrieta. He got the next batter, Starling Marte, to hit another ground ball to Russell and this time he turned it into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
After that double play, the Pirates gave up. As proof of them throwing in the towel, Pirates reliever Tony Watson threw one right at Arrieta's rear end in retaliation and frustration. Both benches cleared and Sean Rodriguez, who had been pinch-hit for in the third inning, threw a punch in the scrum and was ejected. He then went 12 rounds with the Gatorade bucket and fought it to a draw. The Gatorade bucket quickly got its own Twitter account.
After that, the game was all but over. The Pirates could do nothing off Arrieta and he went the distance for a shutout.
Al was at the game and he'll have a full recap of the experience Thursday morning at 7 am CT. I can't wait.