Cubs' playoff chances nixed as Lovable Losers drop their eighth straight


by - Senior Writer -
For the first time in the Joe Maddon era, the Chicago Cubs will miss out on the postseason this year. (Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports)
For the first time in the Joe Maddon era, the Chicago Cubs will miss out on the postseason this year. (Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports)

PITTSBURGH — Not long after the Milwaukee Brewers (88-70) clinched the final National League postseason berth via a 9-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds (73-85) at Great American Ball Park, the Chicago Cubs (82-76) appropriately gave up what proved to be the winning run for the Pittsburgh Pirates (67-91) on Wednesday. Losing their eighth game in a row for the first time since 2012, the Cubs were taken for two runs in the bottom of the eighth at PNC Park and ultimately fell by a final score of 4-2.

In order to have any chance of reaching the postseason, the Cubs needed to win their final five games and keep their fingers crossed that the Brewers would lose their final five games. However, the Brewers took care of business on Wednesday night, thereby earning a spot in the playoffs and squashing what little remained of the Cubs' playoff aspirations. Playing in front of a sparse crowd, the Cubs and the Pirates squared off in the second installment of a 3-game series. The Pirates also won the series opener, meaning that the Cubs are slated to lose their third consecutive series.

During the course of the game, Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist were both replaced, as Cubs manager Joe Maddon was assuredly aware of the beatdown that the Brewers were issuing to the Reds. Along with the injured Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, Rizzo and Zobrist will likely not take the field for the Cubs again this season. Cubs starter Jon Lester toed the rubber for the final time in 2019 and pitched six innings, in which he gave up two runs on eight hits and struck out four. Pirates starter Dario Agrazal also allowed two runs to score in six innings of work, and he got taken for six hits while striking out five.

Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber led the charge for the Cubs. Playing in his hometown, Happ went 2-for-3 at the dish and drove home both of the Cubs' runs. Willson Contreras smacked a triple to deep left-center field in the top of the second, and Happ proceeded to score Contreras via a hard-hit single that rolled through the infield and into right field. Schwarber, who has been one of the few bright spots for the Cubs during their recent skid, made an impact on offense and defense. In addition to going 2-for-4 with the bat, Schwarber gunned down a runner at the plate with a perfect throw from left field in the bottom of the second and laid out for a spectacular catch in the bottom of the eighth.

Unfortunately, the baserunning woes that have plagued Schwarber all season long were unavoidable, as Schwarber was thrown out while attempting to turn a deep single into a double in the top of the fourth. Soon afterward, the Pirates came through with a pair of 2-out hits and garnered a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Erik Gonzalez recorded an RBI double, and Jake Elmore followed that up with an RBI base knock. Happ went on to tie the game at 2-2 with a leadoff blast in the top of the seventh. The 408-foot shot out to center field chased Agrazal from the game.

Schwarber and Cubs center fielder Jason Heyward nearly collided when attempting to chase down a towering shot hit to deep left-center in the bottom of the seventh. Thankfully, the outfielders avoided running into one another, as the ball dropped in for a 2-out triple off Cubs reliever Brandon Kintzler, who returned from injury and pitched for the first time in over two weeks. The runner was left stranded, though, but the Buccos were able to push a couple of runs across in the next frame. With one out and men on first and second in the bottom of the eighth, Cubs reliever David Phelps threw two wild pitches in short order, with the second one enabling the lead runner to score.

As fate would have it, the Pirates scored the go-ahead run mere minutes after Milwaukee collected the final out and punched its ticket to the postseason. Gonzalez then hit a fly ball to shallow left field that Schwarber was able to make a tumbling catch of, but the baserunner at third tagged up and scored, leading to the 4-2 final tally. The Cubs will not take part in postseason play for the first time since 2014, as Maddon led the Cubs to the playoffs in each of his previous four seasons on the job. With four games remaining on their schedule, the Cubs are going to have to settle for playing for nothing but posterity to close out a disappointing 2019 season.

Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates
Sep 25, 2019 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago (82-76) 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 6 0
Pittsburgh (67-91) 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 - 4 9 1
W: Michael Feliz (4-4) L: Brad Wieck (1-2) S: Keone Kela (1)

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