Sitting in my customary season seats throughout a steady downpour with one of my closest friends, I was hoping for a miracle to end the regular season at Wrigley. Guy-time over a beer with one of my guys at a ballgame is one of my favourite things to do. A lot can get done. And we were both hoping the Cubs could get it done at the park today. Before hopping aboard the red line this morning, I wrote about the Cubs season boiling down to seven must-win games, starting with this one at home against the Cardinals and finishing with six games on the road against Pittsburgh then back again against the Cardinals one more time in St. Louis. At the beginning of the season when I picked this game to attend, I had hoped we would be fighting for an NL Central division crown if not already leading it. A week ago, our playoff chances were over 77%. As of this morning, after five straight losses, it had crashed down to 9%. All we had was hope and the talented Cubbies, but it wasn’t looking good.
Then Darvish delivered, pitch after pitch, inning by inning, as the air around us was wet, he was heating up. He pitched another gem, fanning 12 Cardinals batters, giving him 27 in his last two starts, both games I had attended, including 8 straight K’s in the last game against the Reds. For the first time since 1908, a Cubs pitcher struck out at least 12 batters in three straight games. He was pitching better than he had all season.
We were safely perched in our spot under the overhang while much of the downpour avoided us. Candidly, there were many empty seats today. Perhaps may Cardinals fans had taken off, driving back to St. Louis knowing their next season had been delivered. Perhaps it was Cubs fans deciding to stay home, scared of the train wreck that was happening to their season. Perhaps it was the rain. Nevertheless, I took in everything I could for our last game this season. I walked past Ernie Banks to get inside Gallagher Way like I had done so many times the past two years. I took in the giant big screen as I waited in line to get inside Wrigley, then walked up the stairs from Gate 4, to walk up to the 300-level seating where my seats were. I took in the salute to the military like the Cubs always do in the fourth. We especially loved the moving tribute to Gary Pressy, the longtime Cubs organist who played for the last time in three decades after 2,633 consecutive games — Cal Ripken Jr would have been proud. Gary threw out the ceremonial first pitch then led us for the 7th inning stretch as we cheered him on. Everything was going right for us.
After a spotting Darvish with a 2-1 lead with Castellanos’ homer in the sixth, we were ready for a much needed win to stop our losing streak. The Cards had other ideas. Pinch-hitter Martínez nicked a ball off Almora’s glove in deep center for a triple, then Fowler sac fly’d him home. Edman followed that with a single, then stole second. Then Goldschmidt lined a double along the left-field line to send Edman home. 3-2.
That was all she wrote.
The Cubs had lost six straight. I had attended three of those games. Watched every inning of the three I had not attended. I watched in admiration Rizzo hobbling around the bases, a warrior if I ever saw one. I watched in hope then anguish as Javy came up to pinch-hit yesterday for one last bit of unclaimed magic. I watched Bryant go down for a season-ending sprain, joining Rizzo and Baez on the list of the injured Cubbies. I watched Darvis pitch a gem. I watched losses pile up. Not since 1921 had the Cubs been swept in a four-game series against the Cardinals at Wrigley. Chicago had become only the second team in MLB history to be swept in a four-game series at home with each loss being a one-run defeat. And the five straight one-run losses had not happened since July 1915.
It was a epic collapse no matter which way we looked at it.
Six games to go.
GO ADVENTURE. GO TRAVEL. GO LIVE.
ALWAYS BE EPIC.SIX to GO. Go CUBS Go.GO ADVENTURE. GO TRAVEL. GO LIVE.
ALWAYS BE EPIC.