Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.
The Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of their final series 7-3 thanks in large part to Ben Zobrist. The veteran led the way with two home runs and three RBI to move the Cubs to 102 wins on the season. Manager Joe Maddon has given Zobrist significant rest since the Cubs have clinched the best record in the National League and it has certainly helped. He now has 11 hits in his last 22 at-bats including 2 home runs and 8 RBI. Anthony Rizzo also contributed to the victory with 2 RBI. Jake Buchanan got his first MLB start since 2014 and showed he is more than capable of being a major league pitcher. He threw five innings of shutout two-hit ball. The win moved the Cubs record against the Reds this season to 14-3.
The Reds finally got a little revenge by beating the Cubs 7-4 in their second-to-last game of the season. This game was set-up for Jon Lester to earn his 20th win of the season, which would be a career first. Unfortunately, he let the opportunity slip by and labored through five innings in which he gave up five runs for the first time since July 9. The loss was his first in the second half and prevented him from slamming the door on a Cy Young season. Joe Maddon used a lineup that he admitted might be the one he uses to open the National League Division Series on Friday night. Notably, the lineup featured Kris Bryant playing in left field and Javier Baez playing third base. Maddon also had Jason Heyward in the lineup at right field.
The Cubs finished the regular season on a high-note winning their 103rd game of the season after beating the Reds 7-4 in a wild comeback win. The Cubs were headed towards their second loss in a row down 4-3 and down to their final strike when Matt Szczur doubled in two runs to make it 5-4 and Miguel Montero followed with a two-run shot to put the game out of reach. Kyle Hendricks had a chance to end the season with a below 2.00 ERA, but unfortunately he couldn’t become the third Cubs pitcher in nearly 100 years to accomplish the feat. Instead, he finished his season ERA with a 2.13 average, which is still good for the ERA title.
In the end, the Cubs showed that the magic that was there at the beginning of the year was still there at till the end of the regular season. Now, they and all the fans on the North Side and around the globe hope that the magic will continue for one more month.