With a 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Cubs are getting closer and closer to a spot in the Wild Card playoffs, led by a nearly flawless Jake Arrieta and some impressive hitting from Anthony Rizzo and Chris Denorfia.
The Cubs are now three games behind the Pirates as both teams are unlikely to catch up with the St. Louis Cardinals, but this also means the Cubs jump over the San Francisco Giants for one of the two Wild Card spots, that might end up going to the two teams from the same division.
Arrieta improved to 12-6 with a 2.50 ERA after a fabulous 7-inning performance in which he allowed just two hits, walking three batters and striking out five, leaving the mound after 109 pitches. Tommy Hunter, followed by Justin Grimm, had no problem keeping the win intact in the first of two games between the teams after the first intended encounter was postponed.
J.A. Happ lasted less than five innings, allowing eight hits and four runs in his start, carrying on with the poor form he’s had for Seattle before the trade that brought him to the Pirates. It was his first appearance for Pittsburgh, and it was far from what he and the team were hoping for when they made the trade.
The first run for the Cubs came in a loaded bases situation, giving Jorge Soler the opportunity to walk and start the scoring. Although the Pirates got out of that situation, two runs thanks to Starlin Castro and David Ross got the wheels going in the third inning to make it 3-0.
Another double from Castro made it 4-0 in the 5th and the 6th inning brought an RBI single from Soler, helping Kris Bryant reach home.
This is the first time since 2008 that the Cubs have been in a pennant race. It might end badly for them, as we still have almost two full months to go, but after so many years of being pretty much at the bottom of the division, the progress is starting to show, and there’s very little doubt anymore about where all this is going to end up.