Cubs Momentum: Finally Beating the Cardinals

The Chicago Cubs have done the impossible already this season. This rambunctious, young group of players was supposed to be at LEAST a year out from doing any damage in the National League. Their road to the NLCS has not been an easy one, and no matter who they face for the National League Championship, it won’t be an easy road to get to the World Series. With all of the focus on the road ahead, the rest of the baseball world will largely ignore the huge stepping stone this Cubs team took in winning the NLDS. The Cubs managed to do the impossible and beat an extremely talented St. Louis Cardinals team.

The point of this article isn’t about putting down the Cardinals. I have nothing but respect for their organization and the way they operate. The club and the majority of their fans have handled the NLDS loss in an extremely classy, supportive way. This series is about so much more than one playoff race ending and another continuing. This was the baseball equivalent of the little brother finally beating his big brother in a game of one-on-one. Sure, the loss stings; nobody likes to lose, but from what I can tell the Cardinals and most of their fan base is genuinely happy for the Cubs organization and their fans and would love to see their plethora of curses finally come to an end. It’s great for our sport.

This was an extremely entertaining series to watch. In game 1 John Lackey threw an absolute gem of the game holding the Cubs to no runs over 7.1 innings (he no-hit them for 6) and saw the Cards knock around the Cubs bullpen in a 4-0 win in St. Louis. The Lackey vs. Lester matchup was easily the best pitching duel of the entire series. Lester pitched one heck of a game too. He started much shakier than Lackey though and it ended up costing him as he gave up 3 ER over 7.1 innings.

In a huge surprise the Cubs took game 2 behind a HUGE outing from youngster Kyle Hendricks. He also looked shaky in the first inning but shored up and ended up giving up only 3 ER and out-dueling Jaime Garcia who gave up 5 runs (none earned) in 2 innings in a Cubs 6-3 W to even the series up 1-1. Garcia would end up leaving after the second inning due to issues with a stomach virus.

In Game 3 the most overlooked fact of the series happened. Sure records were broken and there was a TON of offense for both teams, but people seem to be looking past the fact that the Cards knocked around Cy Young favorite Jake Arrieta a lot more than anyone expected them to. If you told me that would happen before the game I would’ve never expected for Chicago to pull out a win in game 3. They did though, and it took every last one of their MLB record 6 home runs in a postseason game to put the Cards away 8-6 and set up a potential series clincher at home with Jason Hammel on the mound.

The excitement was palpable in an electric game 4. Cubs fans had every right to be worried going into this game. Jason Hammel has looked GREAT at times this season, but most of those moments were before the All-Star break and he hadn’t pitched in 11 days. The Cubs were also facing John Lackey again, albeit on only 3 days’ rest. Lackey was the man that shut down the Cubbies in game 1 and St. Louis fans had every reason to believe he would do it again. The Cubs got to him early and often as he gave up 4 runs in only 3 IP in a 6-4 Cubs victory.

This was the first time in team HISTORY that a playoff series has been clinched at home and only adds to the magical run these youngsters have had, and the Cubs momentum has played a large part in that. No matter what happens in the NLCS the team that advances definitely deserves to be in the World Series, but one can’t help but hope for just a little more Cubs magic. A few more huge hits from unsung hero of the NLDS Jorge Soler. A few more terrific performances from the starting rotation. A few more Kyle Schwarber BOMBS. The win would be great for a fan-base that has beyond starved for a championship season.

These Cubs are more than capable of winning 8 more games this postseason but face some of the stiffest competition the rest of the way. They’ll either play a Mets team that they swept during the regular season (This is not the same Mets team that the Cubs faced during the regular season. They’ve been downright SCARY in the second half.) or an LA Dodgers team that sports the best 1-2 punches at the top of their rotation in baseball. (Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke) I’ve said it before that these aren’t your father’s Cubs, but all the skill in the world needs some luck too. All we can ask for is just a little more Cubs’ magic.

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