In a battle between two National League Central Division rivals, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card game on Wednesday night.
It’s pretty strange to see two teams who won 95+ games this season meeting in a one-game playoff to advance to the Division Series, but with the St. Louis Cardinals winning the division, these two rivals had to battle it out to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Going into the game, many felt that this would be a pitchers’ duel between Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole, two of the best pitchers in baseball. However, this game was one-sided from the start, as the Cubs got to Cole early on in the ball game.
In his postseason debut, Kyle Schwarber definitely made his presence felt. After leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler led off with a single and stole second base, Schwarber drove him in with an RBI single to give the Cubs the lead just two batters into the game. Schwarber wasn’t finished, as he blasted a two-run homer in the third inning to extend the lead.
With the Cubs leading 3-0, Fowler had his chance to shine, as he hit a solo home run to extend the lead. Fowler was 3-for-4 on the night with three runs scored, making him the third player in Cubs history to have three hits and three runs scored in a single postseason game. He joins Phil Cavarretta and Andy Pafko as the only Cubs to accomplish the feat.
In the bottom half of the seventh inning, tensions flared between the two teams. Earlier in the game, Arrieta hit both Josh Harrison and Francisco Cervelli with pitches, and Pirates’ reliever Tony Watson retaliated. He drilled Arrieta with a first pitch fastball, causing both benches to clear.
Only Sean Rodriguez was ejected, as he attempted to throw a punch during the altercation. He had already been removed from the game before his first at-bat, as Pirates manager Clint Hurdle pinch hit Pedro Alvarez for him.
Arrieta gets plunked, benches immediately empty in Pittsburgh pic.twitter.com/h37ywXn3YU
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 8, 2015
However, nothing could phase Arrieta during this ball game. The Cy Young Award candidate was absolutely dominant, showing why he is one of the front-runners for the award. He pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout to lead his team to the National League Division Series.
The Pirates missed a great opportunity in the sixth inning, as they loaded the bases with only one out. Arrieta was able to work out of the jam, forcing Starling Marte to ground into an inning-ending double play. Other than that, the Pirates had a lot of trouble getting their offense going against Arrieta.
The Cubs now turn their attention to the NLDS, as they will match up against another division rival, the Cardinals. That series will start on Friday night in St. Louis, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 PM on TBS.