Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.
The Cubs (100-56) used a familiar formula to get their 100th win of the season–strong pitching, big hits, and great defense. This time the pitching was from Cy Young candidate Kyle Hendricks and utility superstar Javier Baez.
Hendricks pitched six innings of shutout ball, which helped move his record to 16-8. Even more so, Hendricks dropped his ERA to an MLB-leading 1.99 average. He is the only ERA qualifier to have a sub-2.00 average this season.
Javier Baez had his best offensive game of the season going 2-5 with a grand slam and knocking in a career-high six runners. Kris Bryant also got into the act by hitting a two-run shot in the sixth inning to give him 39 home runs and 100 RBIs on the season. The win gave the Cubs their first 100-win season since 1935.
John Lackey looked like he wrapped up the fourth spot in the playoff rotation in the Cubs 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lackey held the Pirates to just one run on five hits over five innings of work. The veteran has been in a battle with Jason Hammel for the final spot in the playoff rotation; however, Lackey has created a significant separation between the two over the last month that it would be a surprise if he doesn’t earn the final spot.
Chris Coghlan had the big hit of the game hitting a shot of the wall with the bases loaded, which drove in three runs. Dexter Fowler also had a big hit with a two-run double. Felix Pena got the final two outs in the ninth inning to earn his first MLB save. The win pushed the Cubs win total to 101, which is their highest since 1910.
The Cubs (101-57) dropped the third game of the series to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-4. Jake Arrieta struggled in his last outing of the regular season as he only went five innings giving up seven runs on 10 hits, both season highs. It was certainly not a performance that would bring confidence into the playoffs.
The game was the John Jaso show as the Pirate first baseman became the first player to hit for the cycle at the 16-year old PNC Park. Jaso did the majority of his damage off of Arrieta. He hit a single in the second inning, a three-run home run in the fourth, and a double in the fifth. Jaso completed the cycle by tripling in the seventh off of Pedro Strop. In total, Jason went 4-4 with 5 RBI and two runs scored.
In the final game of the series the Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates fought to a 1-1 tie… A tie? In baseball? Yes, the teams played to the first tie since 2005. The game went into a rain delay in sixth inning and since the outcome did not affect the playoff race the game was called. Willson Contreras collected two hits and scored the Cubs only run. Reliever Rob Zastryzny made his first major league start. He gave a solid performance pitching three plus innings while only giving up one earned run.
The Cubs move on to Cincinnati to take on the Reds in the season finale series before they wait for their opponent in the National League Division Series.