Cubs Win in a Playoff Atmosphere, Huge Swing Game, Zobrist's Non-Hit, and Other Bullets

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Cubs Win in a Playoff Atmosphere, Huge Swing Game, Zobrist’s Non-Hit, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Wrigley Field was in full-on playoff mode last night, with fans on their feet for big at bats as early as the fourth inning. The synchronicity with which fans get up as soon as strike two is registered with two outs in a big inning always makes me smile. After the fact, of course, because in the moment, I’m just one of tens of thousands of folks banging their hands together and hollering unintelligible, guttural yaws, knowing full well that we’re WILLING the next pitch to be a strike.

  • That was certainly the case when Justin Wilson was summoned with two outs and the bases loaded in the 7th. It was nuts:

  • Last night’s win sets up a huge swing game today in the series finale against the Brewers: if the Cubs win, they go up 3.0 games (four in the loss column), and make the Brewers’ task of coming back extremely unlikely. If the Brewers win, they’re down just a game (two in the loss column), and this thing is still very much up for grabs. Incredible that a single game could move the needle that much, but such is the case with late-season head-to-head match-ups.
  • Pedro Strop had the perfect line about the tight race, to “That’s the fun part of the game. If you don’t have somebody to fight, it’s not going to be fun.” If only we as fans could so thoroughly adopt that perspective.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • I know it doesn’t “matter,” but Ben Zobrist got screwed by a ruling last night on a clear hit. A grounder up the middle took Jonathan Schoop far to his right, deep in the outfield grass, and he was very much NOT clearly going to make the play when the ball went under his glove. He’s in a batting title race (I know, I know – I already said it didn’t matter – but it’s just a cool thing), and he deserves that hit.
  • Joe Maddon agreed (NBC Sports Chicago): “I’d like to rally for one change in scoring right now. I think if a second baseman’s playing on the outfield grass and a ball is hit to him and he’s not able to complete the play, the left-handed hitter should get a hit on that play. If you want to create some kind of fairness or standard in the game, you’ve already put the guy at a disadvantage by putting the fielder at such a depth situation. And then when he has to run that far and attempt to make a play and then [the hitter doesn’t] get rewarded and to penalize the defense, I don’t think that’s accurate …. It’s tough — they go out there and they’re already set up defensively. I’m not complaining because I was involved in the [inception of the] shift thing several years ago. But if the guy can’t make a play and he starts on the grass and ends on the grass, you gotta give that guy a hit, ’cause that is no longer a routine play.”
  • Today is a big day for Brandon Morrow:

  • Be guarded with your hope, though: even if today goes well, and even if his simulated game goes well, his appearance with the Cubs will have to be pre-planned, and artificially limited. That’s when we’ll *really* know if he’s actually going to be able to contribute in a meaningful way in the final two weeks of the season and on into the playoffs.
  • Drew Smyly was bummed to be shut down before he had a chance to contribute to the Cubs this year, but it definitely sounds like it really was just a matter of the timing not working out, rather than any kind of real issue with his arm. There’s no reason not to expect he’ll be fully healthy for next year. Whether he wins a rotation spot at that point, of course, is not something any of us can realistically predict at this point.
  • Kyle Hendricks has been very good for a while now:

  • And he’s basically been his normal self all year:

  • There is a lot of wonder that surrounds the Cubs these days, but there’s not much that could top this:

  • So that’s what the waffle iron was about (RIP):

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.