CHICAGO – For the second time in three days, the Cubs showed their ability to hit. Once again, “Ricky’s Boys Didn’t Quit.”
But the north siders early efforts were just a little to much for the south sider’s spirited late inning run to attempt to win an American League Central division championship.
The Cubs used a six-run inning in the second to jump out to a lead they wouldn’t let go, but it came very close in the end. The White Sox, who trailed 10-2 with two outs in the eighth inning, scored six runs in that frame and the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate.
But Andrew Chafin was able to stop the threat, striking out Nomar Mazara with a man on to seal a 10-8 victory to end the regular season for both clubs.
With the victory, the NL Central Division champion Cubs finish 34-26 and have the third seed in the National League. They’ll host the Marlins in the three-game Wild Card series starting on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the White Sox finish a game better at 35-25, but losses in seven of their last eight games left them on the outside looking in at a home series in the Wild Card round. Instead, the seventh-seeded team will hit the road to face the Athletics starting on Tuesday.
The ending seemed a foregone conclusion for most of the afternoon as the Cubs’ bats built a big lead. Kris Bryant’s second homer in as many days, a solo shot, and a two-run long ball by David Bote put the visitors up 3-0. Cameron Maybin’s two-RBI single chased Reynaldo Lopez, who finished a difficult season 1-3 with a 6.49 ERA.
Billy Hamilton Jr. added the sixth run with his speed, stealing home after pitcher Carlos Rodon threw to first in an attempted pickoff of Maybin. When Jose Abreu’s throw went towards second to catch him in a rundown, Hamilton took off for the plate and beat the throw to make it 6-0.
Hamilton would hit his first homer with the Cubs in the fourth inning to make it 7-0 and he’d score another run in a two-score frame in the seventh to make it 10-1.
The White Sox mounted a rally in the eighth against Brailyn Marquez, who was making his major league debut. The top prospect in the Cubs’ system had his struggles, walking the first two batters, throwing a wild pitch, then allowing a run on a Yasmani Grandal ground out.
After striking out Jose Abreu, Marquez walked Edwin Encarnacion, then allowed runs on a single, wild pitch, and then a double to Mazara to cut the lead to 10-5. Duane Underwood Jr. would allow two singles after replacing him, the first by Adam Engle that drove in a run, but he got out of the inning with a four-run lead.
Yet Underwood couldn’t get a clean start to the ninth, with a single by Yoan Moncada and a two-run homer getting the White Sox within two. After two quick outs, he allowed a single to Luis Robert and was pulled for Chafin.
He was finally able to put the game away with the strikeout of Mazara, and it was painful for the team. Had they rallied back to win the game, they would have won the American League Central division title since the Twins lost to the Reds.