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Which way will the ball bounce for the Chicago Cubs? –The Denver Post

I woke up Sunday morning to a text message from a Chicago Cubs fan who had a sleepless night after watching their 13-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I guess the good Lord doesn’t want the Cubs to win,” the text reads.

He was referring to Harry Caray’s 3-2 win over the Montreal Expos on August 2, 1984, before the current Cubs players were born. Expos star Pete Rose hit a closer liner to Lee Smith that deflected through the air and was caught on the fly by shortstop Dave Owen, who threw to first for a game-ending double play .

“The Cubs win, the Cubs win, how lucky,” Caray shouted. “The good Lord wants the Cubs to win.”

39 years later on Saturday night, when the Cubs were on the verge of beating the Diamondbacks in 13 innings before Emmanuel Rivera hit a line drive that deflected off reliever Hayden Wesneski’s right elbow and through the air toward the save- short Dansby Swanson.

Instead of running and attempting a game-ending catch on the ricochet, Swanson inexplicably dropped the ball to try to throw Rivera to first base. He couldn’t control it and the tying run scored.

“Oh, no,” Marquee analyst Jim Deshaies said of the unfortunate turn of events, in decibels far lower than Ron Santo’s famous “Oh, no” during a botched match in the wild race. -cards from 1998.

The Diamondbacks then won 7-6 on Gabriel Moreno’s RBI single, sending the Cubs to their fourth straight loss, and followed that up with a 6-2 victory Sunday, sweeping the series and taking the league’s second wild card spot. national. The Cubs were tied for third place on Monday with the Miami Marlins.

“Looking back, if I could have gone in and tried to dive and catch it, that probably would have been the better move,” Swanson told reporters of the ball that deflected off Wesneski. “I was setting myself up to try to catch and throw to first base, but obviously in hindsight I would have tried to dive and catch it in the air.”

Whether a higher power guided the diversion to Owen in 1984 or allowed the diversion to Wesneski to rebound on Saturday is a question best left to theologians. But I know the Cubs won the National League East by 6 1/2 games in 1984, so the wild win over the Expos in early August wasn’t crucial in the grand scheme of things.

It remains to be seen whether the crushing 13-inning loss to the Diamondbacks will affect the 23-year-old Cubs in the postseason. But if they miss the playoffs by one game, it’ll be easy for fans to turn around in anger — after watching the Cubs relievers blow leads in the 10th, 11th and 13th innings in a agonizing loss.

The Cubs can make it moot by making the playoffs.

They still have good shooting, but not as good as September 6 when they trailed the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central by 1 1/2 games and held a 3 1/2 game lead over the Marlins to the second wild match. map stain.

They begin their final six-game homestand of the season Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates and finish this weekend with three games against the Colorado Rockies, the worst team in the league. The ball is in their hands.

Marquee Sports Network postgame hosts Ryan Dempster and Carlos Peña pointed out after Sunday’s loss that if you told fans in late June, when the Cubs were 10 games under .500, that they would be in the wild-card race with two weeks to play, most people would have been happy.

That’s one way of looking at things.

The other reason is that the Cubs were firmly in control of the second wild card spot before losing eight of their last 10 games to the Diamondbacks and Rockies, scoring a combined 23 runs in those eight losses.

Bellinger, their most valuable player, hit .205 during that 10-game stretch with a .564 OPS. He carried the team in July and August, but must take over over the next two weeks if he plans to play in October. The championship atmosphere he and Swanson brought to the clubhouse during spring training will now be tested.

With the possibility of a Wild Card Series at Wrigley Field dwindling, this could be the last time Cubs fans see the team that gave them the most entertaining season since 2018, when they faced the Brewers for the match 163 and subsequently lost the wild card. game against the Rockies.

Kyle Hendricks, the last remaining Cubs player from the 2016 champions, could make his final start at home Thursday against the Pirates. Hendricks has a $16 million club option for 2024 that could be picked up, but who knows? Hendricks’ comeback season proved to doubters that he’s far from done, but he’ll be 34 next year and the Cubs have younger, cheaper options for the rotation.

This could also be the end of watching Bellinger and Marcus Stroman in blue pinstripes, so expect a standing ovation or two for a few fan favorites.

Bellinger, who arrived in Chicago with modest expectations and emerged as the best signing of Jed Hoyer’s presidency, is clearly headed toward free agency and a huge payday. It’s unclear whether Hoyer will have the courage to give him the largest contract in franchise history — after doing so with Swanson’s $177 million deal last winter. Rest assured, Cubs fans will try to convince Bellinger that this is where he belongs.

Stroman, who is pitching in relief without any minor league outings after recovering from his fractured rib cartilage, should also receive an enthusiastic reception. The Cubs obviously would have fallen even further than 10 games under .500 without Stroman’s dominant performance over the first two and a half months, including the “Stropener” on Opening Day. With an opt-out clause he’s supposed to exercise if he proves he’s healthy, Stroman could pitch for Wrigley for the final time as a Cub.

Also on the schedule this week will be the highly anticipated debut of Bellinger heir apparent Pete Crow-Armstrong, the Cubs’ hottest prospect since Kris Bryant in 2015. Crow-Armstrong showed off some leather on his first road trip, but is still looking for his first. hit after starting 0 for 8.

Recall that Ryne Sandberg began his career with the Cubs in 1982 with no hits in his first 20 at-bats and 1 for 32. Sandberg did well, as did Crow-Armstrong.

Seasons come and go, each leaving its own mark on Cubs fans. Some end with a promise and others with pain.

Whether we remember this one as a new beginning or an agonizing ending, this is why we can’t stop watching.



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