The Rundown: Cubs Look Playoff-Ready in AZ, Hendricks Masterful Again, Yelich Has Historic Night

Powered by home runs from Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, the Cubs kicked off their final road trip of the season with a 5-1 win over the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Kyle Hendricks was magnificent, going 8 2/3 while allowing just one run in the victory. With the win, the Cubs reduced their magic number to win the Central to 10.

The Diamondbacks led the NL West when the month began, but fell to five games off the pace with their eighth loss in 10 games.

The Brewers beat the Reds 8-0 thanks to an historic effort from Christian Yelich, who became just the fifth player in MLB history to hit for the cycle twice in one season. The Brewers remain 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs and have a three-game lead for home field advantage in the NL wild card game.

  1. Cubs 88-62 .587
  2. Brewers 86-65 .570
  3. Braves 83-67 .553
  4. Cardinals 83-68 .550
  5. Dodgers 83-68 .550
  6. Rockies 82-68 .547

Cubs News & Notes

Hendricks was on last night and looks playoff-ready. He induced a swing rate of 58 percent, his highest mark in two seasons. According ESPN Stats & Information, his 25 first-pitch strikes were the second most of his career. “You see bad swings by good hitters” is how manager Joe Maddon described it afterward.

Daniel Murphy was not in the starting lineup last night. He’s sat against four of the six lefties the Cubs have faced since coming to Chicago.

Arizona announced that right-hander Matt Andriese is slated to start tonight’s game against the Cubs. Andriese started four games for the Rays before being traded to the Diamondbacks. Mike Montgomery will take the bump for the Cubs to make his career-high 17th start of the season.

With 26 stolen bases but just one hit (and 13 at-bats) over his five-year, 56-game MLB career, no player holds a more ultra-specialized role than Terrence Gore. Now think about how often major-league games are decided by one run and how pivotal results in one-run games can be to a team’s fortunes. Gore may find himself on the team’s playoff roster.

The Cubs have about $7M in luxury tax space if they want to make another move before the end of the season.

New this year, postseason tickets will be available exclusively as mobile tickets via the free MLB Ballpark app. For season ticket holders, once the app has been downloaded and linked to a valid season-ticket account, fans can expect to see their postseason tickets magically appear in the app as early as Tuesday, Sept. 25. You can download the app here, and then cross your fingers you will be able to score some tickets if you aren’t on a qualifying ticket package.

Tommy La Stella did not make the trip to Arizona. He is dealing with a sore back, so the Cubs decided it would be best for him to avoid two plane rides, but he should be available for the White Sox series beginning Friday.

How About That!

For the first time in 15 years, the National League has won the season series against the American League. Since interleague play began in 1997, the AL leads the all-time series 3,029-2,724 (.526).

The Cardinals hammered the Braves last night to take a half-game lead for the second wild card spot over the Rockies.

Last night’s loss to the Dodgers was doubly painful for Colorado, as they lost the NL West division lead and fell behind the Cardinals in the race to make the playoffs. The last week of this season is going to be crazy. Stock up on your favorite craft beer.

It gets worse for the Rockies: Trevor Story left the game after appearing to hurt his wrist on a swing in the 4th inning. Keep an eye out for an update on Tuesday.

The Orioles tied a franchise record with their 107th loss of the season and they still have 12 games to play. The 1988 team went 54-107. The Orioles are now 60 games out of first, the first time a team has reached this milestone since the 1962 Mets finished 60 1/2 games out.

Despite a win against that basically knocked the Phillies out of playoff contention, the Mets were mathematically eliminated from the postseason when the Cardinals beat the Braves.

Coming into Monday, Yelich ranked second in the NL in batting average (.313), ninth in on-base percentage (.381), third in slugging percentage (.556), second in OPS (.937), fourth in OPS+ (146), fifth in total bases (295), and fifth in WAR (5.3). The MVP candidate has been everything the Brewers could’ve possibly wanted when they acquired him from the Marlins last offseason.

Daniel Vogelbach hit a 9th-inning pinch-hit grand slam to give the Mariners a 4-1 victory over the Astros. Edwin Diaz picked up his 56th save to move into third place on the all-time list and is just six saves away from tying the major league record set in 2008 by Francisco Rodriguez.

Mondays Three Stars

  1. Christian Yelich – The Brewers outfielder was 4-for-4 with four RBI, hitting for the cycle for the second time this season. In 12 games against the Reds this season, Yelich has 24 hits, seven homers, 17 RBI and 12 runs.
  2. Kyle Hendricks – The Professor allowed just four baserunners across 8 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts last night in what was yet another must-win game and looks primed for a Game 3 playoff appearance.
  3. Michael Conforto – The Mets outfielder was 3-for-5 with a home run and 6 RBI in New York’s 9-4 victory over the Phillies.

Extra Innings

CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa has some advice for how to improve baseball without changing the game on the field. On his agenda? Removing local blackouts and making things generally cheaper.

They Said It

  • “We all know what KB can do here. t’s not the way he’s used to swinging. He’s still getting used to it. I know he’s going to hit. Having him in the lineup, it changes how the other team pitches to us. They have to pitch to him, [Anthony] Rizzo or me, or whoever is in between.” – Javier Baez
  • “When things get tough, we show up and grind and focus a little more. We trust each other in here. We know what we need to do to get the job done. It was just a matter of time, like what you saw today.” – Kyle Hendricks
  • “I think the quality of our bullpen is being overlooked. It would be nice if we could be one of those teams with the best bullpen ERA in the league — oh wait — that’s us, by a third of a run or something like that.” – Theo Epstein

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Alive by Pearl Jam. Six teams fighting for five playoff spots and it all may come down to the last day of the season. Wow.

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