A Tip of the Recap — 9/11 (Cubs 9, Astros 5)

Cubs record: 91-51, 1st NL Central, (16 games up)

Cubs Magic Number: 5

W: Jake Arrieta

L: Mike Fiers

MVP: The Cubs

The Chicago Cubs closed out their series against their former division foes with a bang, taking it to the Houston Astros with a 9-5 win.

They started scoring quickly when Dexter Fowler led off the game with a walk and Kris Bryant doubled down the left field line to plate Dex with no outs.

In the second, Addison Russell and Javy Baez smacked back-to-back singles, followed by a David Ross RBI sac fly, followed by a wild pitch to make it 3-0 Cubs.

In the top of the 3rd, Jorge Soler kept the scoring streak alive with a one-out solo blast. Ben Zobrist followed that up with a walk and Russel and Javy repeated themselves with back-to-back singles to make it 5-0. Piling on, Albert Almora Jr. singled to center and the ball got away from Marisinick, which allowed both Addy and Baez to score, making it 7-0. Enough already. It wasn’t, though, as Rizzo singled to lead off the top of the 4th and Russell homered to make it 9-0.

Jose Altuve homered in the bottom of the 4th, but that was the only damage done until the 6th, when the Astros tried to make it interesting. Arrieta hit George Springer, Alex Bregman doubled to make it 9-2, and Altuve singled to keep the threat alive. Bregman came around to score on a wild pitch, A.J. Reed walked and Arrieta’s night was done. Justin Grimm came in and walked one to load the bases, but got out of it without allowing any further damage. Grimm gave way to Trevor Cahill, who pitched a clean two innings before giving up back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the 9th. Travis Wood finished the game for the Cubs’ 91st win.

On the night, Jake was good, but not spectacular. He pitched 5.1 innings and allowed four hits, two walks, three strikeouts and three earned runs.

The good

The Cubs are firing on all cylinders, and that is very, very good because it almost certainly means that they will have no problem staying focused as they look to finish the season strong. With a dwindling magic number, these games are essentially meaningless, so seeing the Cubs take it to every team they play is a great sign.

Clearly, this group of players gives it their all when they are in the game, so it will be up to Joe Maddon to give them rest. When momentum can help counter some of the randomness of the playoffs, one of the hurdles moving forward was going to be keeping their eye on the prize and not coasting when it comes to the NLDS. One game doesn’t dictate the rest of the season, but I think it’s safe to say the Cubs will keep their blinders on and try to end the year on a good note.

The bad

Jake Arrieta was shaky at the end, but the score was 9-0 at one point. This was an all-around win.

Coming attractions

The Cubs head to St. Louis as they look to celebrate clinching the division in hostile territory. Our favorite baby bears throw “Mr. Best ERA in Baseball,” Kyle Hendricks in game one Monday night against the Cardinals’ star free agent signing, Mike Leake. The Professor will look to improve upon his 2.07 ERA while shaving two off the Cubs magic number as we inch ever close to the end of the season.

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