Morning Rewind, 10/8: Jake Arrieta is a man on fire
By JOHN DORN
The Chicago Cubs won their 98th game last night, including the postseason -- something the franchise hasn't accomplished since 1945. That season, 60 years ago, also counts as the last time the North siders played in a World Series game.
These Cubs still have some hurdles to climb, but there's no doubt that this is their best chance since anybody in their dugout -- 61-year-old manager Joe Maddon included -- has been alive.
They made their NLDS berth official Wednesday night in the most long-awaited Wild Card Game ever, at PNC Park against the 98-win Pittsburgh Pirates, who earned home field over Chicago by finishing a game ahead of the Cubs. But by the time Jake Arrieta toed the rubber a little after 7 p.m. local time, it became clear as day: The game could've been played in Pittsburgh, Chicago or Mars -- it didn't matter. The NL Cy Young contender wasn't letting his side go home after a single postseason game.
Some three hours and 113 pitches later, Arrieta polished off his fourth complete game shutout of the season, out-dueling Gerrit Cole, who was bounced after allowing Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler to drive in four Chicago runs.
Chicago did have a bit of navigating to do -- but more around Pirates fists than baserunners. Arrieta, who hit two Pittsburgh batters previously, got plunked in the hip by reliever Tony Watson. The benches and bullpens cleared, but the only real threat to human life was Sean Rodriguez, who barely resisted turning green and ripping his jersey at the seams, even after returning to the dugout -- where the Gatorade cooler took the brunt of the outburst.
After finishing 2015 as the second-best team in all of baseball, the Pirates are going home. The Cubs now move on to an NLDS matchup against the first-best team in all of baseball: St. Louis, winners of 100 games throughout the regular season.
But this postseason, the Cubs are already rolling. And it'll take more than just talent to stop them.
Cubs 4, Pirates 0
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