The Cubs and White Sox wrapped up their rivalry on Sunday in the closing game of a three game set down at Sox Park on a hot and humid afternoon. Chris Sale was opposing Dan Haren and while the Cubs came in winners of nine in a row for the first time since they last qualified for the postseason, most people thought the win streak would be brought to an end at the hands of Chris Sale who far from disappointed. Sale made the white hot Cubs look foolish as he not only struck out 15 batters matching his season high, but also carried a no-hitter into the middle of the game before it was broken up by a solid single to left off the bat of Dexter Fowler.
The Cubs were due for a loss at some point, but the timing couldn’t have been worse as they’re now trailing the Pirates by 2.5 games for first in the National League Wild Card after Pittsburgh completed a sweep of the first place Mets in Queens. The White Sox on the other hand were trying to keep themselves somewhat alive in the American League Wild Card as they trail the Orioles by 4.5 games. The White Sox embark on a huge West Coast trip this week as they start a four game series against the Angels of Anaheim tonight and close the week in Seattle.
The White Sox managed to retain the “Crosstown Cup” by tying the series 3-3 this year and winning it last year. Apparently this thing is like the Ryder Cup and doesn’t change hands unless one team wins the series outright. In any event the Cubs somehow couldn’t catch the Pirates despite having won 9/10 and 15/16. To Pittsburgh’s credit they themselves have been playing phenomenal ball despite losing the first two games at Busch Stadium last week. The Pirates have rattled off a four game win streak and are winner in eight of their last ten games to keep the Cubs at bay. The Cubs still have a comfortable 3.5 game lead on the Giants, but don’t expect San Francisco to lay down after the four game sweep at Wrigley. The Giants are themselves winners of four in a row and have a big week ahead that could be beneficial to the Cubs if Chicago were to go on another spotless home stand. San Francisco has their run of NL Central opponents starting tonight in St. Louis with a four game weekend set in Pittsburgh before hosting the Cubs next week. Madison Bumgarner will start Friday in Pittsburgh after pitching a complete game yesterday to blank the Nationals.
Overall the Crosstown Cup was a small blip on the radar for the two Chicago teams with the most notable thing being a beer can thrown at Cubs C/OF Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs took two of three and Chris Sale dominated the Sunday Matinee. Not to much to see here in terms of unpredictability. From this point on it’ll be a battle for either team to make the playoffs. The Cubs have a much better chance of making the play-in game, but to this writer that still isn’t making the playoffs. To finish the season 20+ games over .500 and losing in Pittsburgh to Gerrit Cole in a one game playoff is considered a good season, but not a successful one at this point. In order for the Cubs to make great strides Maddon has got to get his team into the LDS.
To this point it still remains that because of Chris Sale, and especially after what he showed yesterday against the hottest team in baseball, it’s hard to dispute the fact that the White Sox would have a better chance in a one game playoff than would the Cubs. The Cubs need to leapfrog the Pirates and have that game in Wrigley. Gerrit Cole pitches tonight for the Pirates against the Diamondbacks at PNC. That should bump the Pirates lead in the Wild Card to three games over the Cubs. The Cubs start a three game series against the Tigers on Tuesday.