Yes, I know the Cubs’ first postseason game will be in September, the 30th to be exact, but you know what I mean. October baseball every year is fun, and this year after a 60-game sprint of a season and 16 teams playing through the 10th month of 2020, anything and everything might happen, including this:
“If they’re passing out a trophy, I want it,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I don’t care if it’s a five-game season, this is competition. It’s what we enjoy doing. It’s why we suit up.— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) June 29, 2020
“I don’t know what the parade will look like, but we’ll adjust that when we get there.”
Damn right. The Cubs have just as good a chance as anyone to win the World Series trophy this year, and it’s the championship available, so go for it!
They tuned up with a 10-8 win over the White Sox that shouldn’t have been that close. But the Cubs did have quite a bit of fun along the way, so let’s have a look before wrapping things up for the 2020 regular season and looking ahead to the postseason.
The Cubs exploded for six runs in the second inning, beginning with this home run [VIDEO] by Kris Bryant, his second in as many games.
KB is definitely hot at the right time:
Kris Bryant's 2020 season:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 27, 2020
5 RBI in first 32 games
7 RBI in last 2 games
One out later, Victor Caratini singled and David Bote gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead [VIDEO].
The Cubs weren’t even close to being done in that second inning. The homers must have rattled Reynaldo Lopez, because he followed that by walking the bases loaded. Cameron Maybin sent two of those runners home [VIDEO].
That hit left Billy Hamilton on third base... but not for long. Maybin got picked off and as soon as the throw toward second, Hamilton took off for the plate [VIDEO].
Right there, that’s why Billy Hamilton on this team. He can be a disrupting force on the basepaths during the postseason, and as we saw in Pittsburgh, he can also run down balls in the gaps and turn them into outs. He’s a very valuable player and I think he will provide all of the above in postseason games.
Hamilton wasn’t done having himself a game, either. He homered in the fourth. Wait, what? [VIDEO]
That was Hamilton’s 22nd career homer, but his first since 2018. Believe it or not, he’s never hit an inside-the-park homer, and that one left the yard, and since it doesn’t happen often, let’s look at the Statcast numbers:
That’s good stuff, Billy, well done! More fun facts about Hamilton:
It had been 760 days since Billy Hamilton hit a home run. Solo shot in the 4th puts the Cubs up 7-0 on the White Sox.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 27, 2020
While all this was going on, Adbert Alzolay had an outstanding outing, five innings, allowing two hits and one run (a solo homer by Adam Engel), with a career-high eight strikeouts. Two great outings don’t make a career, but Alzolay does appear to have figured something out and if he can keep that up, that might even make a difference in this year’s postseason. It puts him in the mix for the 2021 rotation, too.
The Cubs added three more in the seventh. Hamilton singled and stole second, his second swipe of the day. Kyle Schwarber walked and then this wacky play happened [VIDEO].
Two runs scored and Kris Bryant, who hit the ball about 55 feet, wound up on third, where he scored on this single by Javy Baez [VIDEO].
During all this, Jose Quintana entered the game in relief of Alzolay, and put two scoreless innings on the board. That’s important, too; even if Q isn’t stretched out enough to start in the postseason, he can put up valuable innings in relief, particularly against lefty-heavy teams.
Brailyn Marquez, just called up to the big leagues for the first time Sunday, made his major-league debut in the eighth inning. You could tell he was a bit nervous as he walked the first two hitters he faced and three overall in the inning. He flashed a good fastball and also looks like he has a decent slider. He wound up getting touched up for five runs, but if that has to happen, better with a huge lead like this game. Duane Underwood Jr. had to be summoned to end the messy frame.
Underwood then made the game way too close in the ninth by allowing a two-run homer to Yasmani Grandal, and allowed a two-out single and had to be relieved by Andrew Chafin, who struck out Nomar Mazara to end it.
The Cubs pretty much gave back to the White Sox what happened at Wrigley in August. The Sox took two of three that weekend, hitting 12 home runs and outscoring the Cubs 18-7. This weekend, the Cubs took two of three, hitting eight home runs and outscoring the Sox 25-18. The overall Cubs vs. Sox series, since 1997, now stands at 63 Cubs wins and 65 Sox wins, and the run differential is extremely close: Cubs 569, Sox 581.
The Cubs’ 34-26 record is a .567 winning percentage. That would equate to 92 wins in a 162-game season, a perfectly fine year. The Cubs won the NL Central in 2017 with 92 wins and got to the NLCS that year.
Now, here’s the postseason news. The Cardinals won Sunday, so they’re in, clinching the No. 5 seed. That also means they won’t have to play their makeup doubleheader vs. the Tigers tomorrow. The Cubs will play the Marlins in their wild card series beginning Wednesday at Wrigley Field. Game times for that round have not yet been set, I’ll post about those when they’re available, likely sometime Monday. With the White Sox loss and a win by the Indians Sunday, the Sox dropped to third place in the AL Central and the No. 7 seed. They would have faced the Twins, the AL Central champs, but when the Twins lost to the Reds Sunday, though, Minnesota fell to the No. 3 seed. The Sox instead head to Oakland to face the A’s.
The Brewers lost to the Cardinals, but they claimed the No. 8 seed because the Giants lost their Sunday game to the Padres. That means four NL Central teams are included in the NL field of eight. Here are all the postseason matchups.
I’ll have all the details of times and TV channels tomorrow, as well as coverage as the Cubs prepare for their first postseason in two years.
Who knows? Maybe David Ross and his team will get that trophy they’re passing out.