Wednesday, October 7, 2015
By: Alec McChesney
On a night where there were not expected to be many runs at all, the Chicago Cubs wasted no time getting on the board. After a single and a stolen base, Dexter Fowler was knocked in by Kyle Schwarber to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The duo was at it again in the third inning. After another single by Fowler, the rookie (Schwarber) launched a monstrous home run giving the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Dexter Fowler continued his tear, hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning putting Chicago up four. Four runs was more than enough for Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta. Coming into the night, Arrieta was 16-0 when his team scored three or more runs on the season.
Arrieta took the four run lead and never looked back. He was electric all game, striking out eleven batters, allowing only four hits while walking zero. He became the first pitcher in postseason history to throw a 9-inning shutout while eclipsing ten strikeouts and walking none. For the most part, this was a very anti-climatic baseball game. However, the Pirates were not going to go down without a fight (literally). In the seventh inning, reliever Tony Watson drilled Arrieta in the hip with a 93 MPH fastball. This was in retaliation to Arrieta hitting two Pirates earlier in the game.
Arrieta and Watson entered into a classic stare down and immediately, the benches cleared. Fortunately, no extra activities really took place. The teams met on the first base line, argued and yelled and were ultimately separated. Sean Rodriguez was the lone player who was ejected for his part in the "brawl". Rodriguez was replaced in the third inning by Pedro Alvarez and let all of his frustrations out onto the Gatorade cooler before being sent to the showers.
Arrieta was able to retire the ninth in order and the celebration began in Chicago and in Pittsburgh. For the first time since 2003, the Chicago Cubs won a playoff game. And for the first time in the history of baseball, the Chicago Cubs and the Saint Louis Cardinals will play in a playoff series. The National League Divisional Series begins on Friday night in Saint Louis. Jon Lester will take the mound for the Cubs; he will be up against John Lackey, who will start game one for the Saint Louis Cardinals.