The Chicago Cubs came one step closer to clinching their second straight NL Central in defeating their division rival St. Louis Cardinals 10-2 last night at Busch Stadium. The win officially eliminated St. Louis from NL Central contention, though the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers are still alive in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot following the Colorado Rockies’ loss to the Miami Marlins.
But last night was all about the Cubs, who strung together 12 hits as a team and jumped on St. Louis early. Tonight’s game can be the winner and given how Chicago has been playing, the team’s foot is on the proverbial gas pedal.
Chicago at the plate
The star of the Cubs’ offense last night was none other than reigning MVP Kris Bryant, who is batting .333 since August 1 and has raised his batting average on the year to .297. Bryant was 3 for 4 with a home run last night and also scored a pair of runs. Javier Baez also added a three-run homer, his 23rd of the year.
Another star, however, was infielder Addison Russell. This man has had a down season for several reasons but was the man of the hour in the first inning last night. After Chicago loaded the bases against St. Louis starter Luke Weaver, Russell lined a double down the right field line that cleared the bases and gave Chicago an early 3-0 lead. That lead became 4-0 after Russell was doubled home by Jason Heyward.
Russell also made the highlight reel after falling into the stands chasing a pop fly. He made the catch but at the expense of a fan’s nachos! Naturally, ever the gentleman, Russell bought the fan new nachos.
Throw in a pair of hits from Ben Zobrist, and the Cubs’ performance at the plate gave fans plenty of hope heading into October.
Chicago on the mound
Veteran lefty Jon Lester was just what Chicago needed him to be in spite of his entering the game with a 4.56 ERA. Lester provided six innings of excellent pitching and gave up just one run while scattering five hits, including two walks and four strikeouts. His record thus improved to 12-8 on the season and he will surely be Chicago’s Game 1 starter in any playoff series.
Cardinals starter Luke Weaver, on the other hand, was not so great. He entered last night’s game having gone 6-0 with a sub-2 ERA in his last six starts but was lit up for eight earned runs on seven hits in just three innings of work. His ERA ballooned from 2.05 to 3.23 and only 39 of his 65 pitchers got thrown for strikes.
Chicago will look to seal the deal later tonight when righty Jake Arrieta (14-9, 3.43 ERA) takes the mound against St. Louis ace Carlos Martinez (12-11, 3.63 ERA). The first pitch is set for 8 p.m ET, so be sure to tune in!
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