2018 Chicago Cubs
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2018 Chicago Cubs / Franchise: Chicago Cubs / BR Team Page
Clinched Wild Card: October 1, 2018, vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Managed by Joe Maddon
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2018 Chicago Cubs were considered one of the strongest teams in the majors when the season opened, after reaching at least the National League Championship Series for three straight years and winning the whole shebang in 2016. They opened the year with a bang against the Miami Marlins on March 29th, as lead-off hitter Ian Happ hit a homer off Jose Urena on the first pitch of the season. They went on to win the game, 8-4, but then lost three of the next four games, including a marathon 17-inning contest on March 30th. Part of the problem was the Cubs' inability to score runs, as they were shut out in back-to-back games on April 1-2 and were striking out at an alarming rate: 58 times in those first five games, a new National League record. They righted the ship after that and finished April in first place with a record of 16-10, but soon hit a rough patch, losing their first five games in May and beginning to lose ground in what was a four-team race in the NL Central, with only the Cincinnati Reds out of the running.
The Cubs began to get rolling at the end of May. Beginning on May 27th, they won 11 of 13 games to move from fourth place, 4.5 games out of the lead, to within half a game of first place on June 7th. On June 11th, they defeated the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, 7-2, in extra innings, to take over first place for the first time since the beginning of May.
From August 16-21, the Cubs played a string of five games in which they scored exactly one run - and that run came as the result of a solo homer. They managed to win a couple of 1-0 contests in that stretch, but many observers found it emblematic of what baseball had become in 2018 - and not in a good way: a game in which strikeouts, walks and homers, the so-called "Three True Outcomes", are the only action to take place, at the detriment of the fans' enjoyment of the game.
The season went down to the final game, as the Cubs were tied with the Milwaukee Brewers heading into the game of September 30th, with the division title winner also getting home field advantage through the NLCS, and the loser having to host the Wild Card Game, betting its entire season on the results of that context. The stakes were therefore extremely high, with the Cubs hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. The Cubs trailed early, but then came back to win easily, 10-5; as the Brewers also won handily, the two teams had to meet in a one-game playoff at Wrigley on October 1st, with the winner claiming the first seed in the NL postseason bracket, and the loser hosting the Wild Card Game at home. Things did not go well for the Cubs in those final days with everything on the line. Their inability to score runs, which had plagued them periodically dring the season, came back to haunt them with a vengeance, as they were limited to just three hits by the Brewers's pitchers in the playoff game and lost, 3-1. Then in the Wild Card Game, they only managed to score once in 13 innings and were defeated by the Colorado Rockies, 2-1. A season that had looked very promising until the last days of September was suddenly over, and the Cubs only had themselves to blame, having squandered countless opportunities over those hectic final few days.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Javier Baez, Willson Contreras and Jon Lester
- NL Gold Glove: Anthony Rizzo (1B)
- NL Silver Slugger Award: Javier Baez (2B)
- Associated Press: "Yelich, Brewers beat Cubs 3-1 for NL Central title", ESPN.com, October 1, 2018
- Carrie Muskat: "Cubs seek return to World Series in '18: After falling short last October, Chicago eyes title run", mlb.com, February 26, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Cubs enjoying pressure from Brewers in battle for NL Central title", USA Today, September 29, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Under pressure: Cubs, Brewers meet again Monday with NL Central title on line", USA Today, September 30, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Winter is here: Stunned Cubs prepare for change after shocking postseason elimination", USA Today, October 3, 2018.