Jason Hammel gets the start Saturday as the Cubs face the Pirates in the second game of their three-game series. Here’s the lineup:
In case you missed it, the Cubs did clinch a postseason berth late Friday thanks to the Giants losing to the A’s. The Giants now are mathematically eliminated.
The Cubs are back in the playoffs. Despite losing to the Pirates earlier Friday, the Cubs secured a postseason berth because of the Giants’ loss to the Athletics. That game ended about midnight Friday, and that’s when the party started. Some of the Cubs players stayed awake and posted messages on Twitter:
Jason Motte: “This is what you work all offseason, spring training and season for. #PostseasonBaseball here we come!!! #GoCubsGo”
Dexter Fowler: “I’ve never been happier for the @Athletics! #playoffbound”
If the season ended today, the Cubs would play the Pirates in the National League Wild Card game on Oct. 7 at PNC Park. Does home field advantage matter?
“It’s not, in my mind,” Chicago catcher David Ross said Friday. “That’s my personal opinion. We play good at their place.
We’ve played pretty strong in Pittsburgh.”
This is the first time the Cubs have reached the playoffs since 2008.
— Carrie Muskat
Despite losing to the Pirates on Friday, the Cubs could still clinch a playoff spot if the Giants lose to the Athletics in Oakland. Chicago’s magic number is one. Most of the Cubs will likely be asleep, though. The Cubs and Pirates meet at noon CT on Saturday at Wrigley Field, and the early wake-up call doesn’t leave much room for late night celebrating if the Cubs do advance. It would be their first trip to the postseason since 2008.
Chicago manager Joe Maddon didn’t plan on staying up.
“We have a noon game [Saturday],” Maddon said. “Probably when I have to go to the bathroom at night, I’ll check.”
He’s not alone. Did Jon Lester plan on staying awake?
“No chance,” Lester said. “We’ll show up [Saturday] and hopefully celebrate and have a good time and let these guys who have never experienced this really enjoy it. I know we have another week or so to go. A lot of things can happen. Not too many guys get the chance to play in the postseason.”
The Cubs do party pretty hard after wins, celebrating with loud music and disco lights.
“We’re not a team that misses out on a celebration,” Chris Coghlan said. “We’re a team that celebrates.”
The 40,432 fans at Wrigley Field on Friday were hoping to spray champagne. Not yet.
“Maybe somebody will celebrate on their own,” David Ross said. “I’d rather wait until [Saturday]. These old bones don’t get up too early after a late night of drinks. I’ll probably watch the [Giants] game. We’ve got a nooner [Saturday]. I’d rather celebrate after. We can sleep in after Saturday night for Sunday. That’s my hope.”
Chris Denorfia can’t wait.
“I’ve been knocked out [of the playoffs] the last day of the season twice in my career,” Denorfia said. “That’s as close as I ever got. I’m looking forward to hopefully wrapping this up.”
If the Giants do lose, and the Cubs are at their respective homes, how will they party?
“Maybe via text?” Maddon said.
— Carrie Muskat
Jon Lester takes the mound Friday in the first game of the Cubs’ three-game series against the Pirates. The Cubs can clinch a playoff berth with a win Friday. Here’s the lineup:
La Stella 2B
Lester, has 192 strikeouts this season, third-most in a single season for a Cubs lefty in franchise history. He’s 10 away from Ken Holtzman, who set the mark with 202 strikeouts in 1970. Lester has recorded four double-digit strikeout games this season, a franchise mark for a left-hander. Lester’s 192 strikeouts this season are tied for seventh-most in the NL with today’s opposing starter, Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole.
The Cubs have won 13 of their last 17 home games, and 20 of the last 26.
On Thursday, the new Kerry Wood Cubs Field was dedicated. The new $5 million ballpark, located next to Lane Tech High School, will provide a much needed baseball diamond in the city of Chicago. The project, which has been in the works for nine years, was a combined effort of Wood, the city of Chicago, the Park District, the Cubs, Turner Construction, and Chicago public schools. It will be available to both high school teams and for the public through the park district.
Wood, who was drafted out of high school at the age of 17, said he felt like a big leaguer when he first stepped onto the high school field in Texas. Chicago kids didn’t have that opportunity, and when they played in the Illinois High School Association playoffs, they had to go to the suburbs. What was key was creating a regulation pitching mound. The scoreboard is designed similar to the Wrigley Field marquee. Cubs historians know Lane Tech was home to Phil Cavarretta, who played and managed the Cubs, so the location of the new diamond is perfect.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, Cubs Charities board chair Laura Ricketts, and others took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony. The field is positioned perfectly so fans can see the Chicago skyline over the center field fence.
“This is a great day for my family and I, and an even greater day for Chicago area high school baseball players,” Wood said.
On Sept. 23, 1986, Jim Deshaies started for the Houston Astros in what turned out to be a record-breaking day. Deshaies, now the analyst on the Cubs television broadcasts, struck out the first eight batters he faced, and finished with a complete game two-hitter in a win over the Dodgers.
“It’s September of ’86, and we’re on the verge of clinching a division that we weren’t supposed to win and there was a
great vibe going on in Houston,” Deshaies said Wednesday on the anniversary of his event. “I had missed my previous start with a tender elbow, I believe. By some twist of fate, I struck out the first eight guys in the ballgame.
“The best story associated with that is what happened the next two days,” Deshaies said. “I go complete game, two-hitter, strike out the first eight. So for one day, I’m kind of like the hero. Next day, Nolan [Ryan] comes out, eight innings of one-hit ball, and strikes out 14. I think Charlie Kerfeld pitched the ninth.
“That night, after the game, I’m shaving next to Alan Ashby, and I make some crack to Ashby, ‘Geez, you think Nolan, with
all that he’s accomplished, would let me have the limelight for more than 24 hours.’ And I swear to God this is true, Ashby
says, ‘Well, I’ve got a feeling Scotty will show you both up,’ and Mike [Scott] comes out the next day and throws a no-
hitter to clinch the division, so we go two-hitter, one-hitter, no-hitter in three days and Mike’s no-hitter is over the
Giants. [Ashby] was very prophetic.”
Was one pitching working for Deshaies that day?
“I threw high fastballs,” he said. “I wasn’t a hard thrower, but I had deception and a sneaky fastball. I used to throw a lot of high fastballs and have swings and misses up there. When I had good games, that was my best pitch. The more memorable sequence was Pedro Guerrero had a long at-bat — I think double-digit pitches at-bat. He kept fouling pitches off. I finally struck him out looking. I finally threw him a change up on 3-2, and he took it. It was called a strike — it was probably a ball. Dave Pallone was the [home plate] umpire. He had a pretty generous zone, so that helped. The other thing is I finished with 10 strikeouts. I had eight in a row to start the game and only ended up with 10.”
Does he celebrate the anniversary of his record eight Ks to start a game?
“My wife [Lori] actually wished me happy anniversary today,” Deshaies said. “Every now and then I’ll get a text. I got a text from an old teammate today, Jimmy Pankovits. As long as we were teammates the rest of that year, every game, once somebody put the ball in play, he’d come down and give me a high five and say, ‘OK, your record is safe.'”
Last year, the Met’s Jacob deGrom tied the mark with 8 straight Ks to open a game.
“It’s OK that it’s tied,” Deshaies said. “The ninth guy for me popped up. His ninth guy was the pitcher who got a base hit.
So I claim tiebreaker status, however, he did go on to win the Rookie of the Year. He may have a more legitimate claim to
— Carrie Muskat
On Tuesday, there was a penguin, flamingo, snow leopards and some other animals at Wrigley Field for the Cubs players and their families. On Wednesday, the Cubs players got to meet Bibi, a 2 1/2 year old cheetah. Cubs pitcher Travis Wood was giving Joe Maddon some grieve for not having animals in the clubhouse this year. The Columbus Zoo was behind the animal project.
“This time of the year, things tend to get a little bit up tight and I don’t want that at all — there’s no reason to be,” Maddon said. “These little sojourns from the normal moment I think are good for everybody.”