It’s that time of year again folks. We’ve weeded out all the country club fans, all the people who buy a ticket to a summer game at Wrigley just so they can get a picture with the squad for Instagram, all the posers, they’re all gone. We’re back to just the people who ride or die with this bunch, and there’s no other way I’d rather have it. Would we like to be up by 20 games right now? Yes. Would we like to have clinched a spot in the postseason by now? Of course. But there’s something about digging in the trenches and grabbing your lunch pale that makes me tingle. Something about rolling up the sleeves that just gets me all riled up. Three game lead with 16 games left, 11 of those 16 against either the Cardinals or Brewers, and it all starts with the redbirds coming to the North side for a weekend series at Wrigley. You can’t script it better than that folks.
(Current update on our boys for all of you that have watched a little too much Football the past couple weeks)
We just swept the Mets by a combined 80 runs or something. Yeah, before that we got swept by the Brewers, that just can’t happen, but I will say this: Any time you can stick it to the Mets at Wrigley you do it. I don’t care how bad the Mets are or who pitches, you make that franchise pay for the sins of Daniel Murphy every chance you get. The thing about September baseball when you’re in the hunt is that you simply have to let yesterday be yesterday. There’s no time for a slump, no time to fall in to a funk. To bounce back from getting swept the way this team did the past couple of days shows you why they’re a Championship baseball team.
Now, in the spirit of letting yesterday be yesterday, we’re on to St. Louis. Some quick bullets to set the stage for this weekend
- This is the first time the Cubs and Cards play in September with both teams leading the division or the other within three games of 1st place since 2003.
- The Cubs carry an 8-4 series lead against the Cards in to the weekend. More importantly, the Cubs have owned the Cardinals at Wrigley so far this year, going 5-1 thus far.
- The Cardinals enter the weekend tied with Milwaukee in the wild card race. Both teams are 2.5 games behind Colorado.
Here’s the lineup for today
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 15, 2017
Would I love to see Albert Almora in there? Absolutely. But the thought process with the lefties today is that left handed hitters have a .772 OPS against Martinez compared to the .593 posted by righties. Jon Jay over Ian Happ is questionable, especially due to Jay’s recent struggles. But I do believe you’re going to need Jon Jay down the stretch here, so I’m not going to get mad about that.
As for the pitching match up, it’s the young flame thrower against our old cowboy. I’m the first guy ready to rip John Lackey to pieces, but over his last 10 starts he’s working with a 3.67 ERA. Trending up at the right time, and he’s historically matched up well against his old team. As for Martinez, Carlos owns a career 3.19 ERA at Wrigley. Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, and Anthony Rizzo have historically been problems for Martinez, but he’s also owned Kris Bryant. As long as Lackey can locate his pitches instead of tossing batting practice, I think we could have a little bit of a pitcher’s duel on our hands this afternoon.
Listen, all the sabermetrics are great. The lineups support what the numbers say, the history lesson as to match ups is all well and good, but enough of all that. This is Cubs Cardinals in mid September with the division on the line. This is about 41,000 strong willing our boys to victory. This is about sweatshirts and Old Style Beer. This is about recognizing its that time of year to remind everyone why it is you wear the crown. It’s that the time of year to get yourself in to “one pitch, one at bat, one inning at a time” mode, and that all starts this afternoon.
Cubs. Cards. Let’s go