While the Cubs were engaged in a back-and forth battle against the White Sox on Saturday, the Brewers did them a favor.
The Cubs clinched the NL Central title when Milwaukee beat St. Louis 3-0 on Saturday. The Cubs ended up losing 9-5 to the White Sox, but they'll still head into the playoffs with the No. 3 seed in the National League and home field advantage through the best-of-three Wild Card Series.
“When you start reaching some of your goals,” Cubs manager David Ross said before the game, “it's a little badge of honor that you get when you put in the work and are able to reap the rewards on the back end of the season. But the way I feel about this group would not change whether we win the division or not. I'm really proud of these guys.”
When the Cubs clinched a playoff berth earlier this week, they ensured that for the fifth time in six years, the Cubs were headed to the postseason. In that time, they’ve been to the National League Division Series and NL Championship series three times each and won the World Series once.
“It's been a special six years,” Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber said Saturday. “And we don't want to be known just for breaking the curse; we want to keep doing this thing.”
Before the 2015 season, when the club added Jon Lester and David Ross as a free agents, and Kris Bryant and Schwarber made their MLB debuts, the Cubs had missed the playoffs for six straight years.
“What this group has done is really taken the narrative of the organization and turned it upside down,” Ross said of the Cubs’ core. “And really, that that started with the top, Theo (Epstein) and Jed (Hoyer) and the front office, and their plan and vision and getting the right guys.”
Last season – when the Cubs missed the playoffs for the first time in the Joe Maddon era — and the year before — when they lost the Wild Card Game to the Rockies – were disappointments for a fan base and organization that had become accustomed to success.
“It didn't feel too good,” Schwarber said. “And we want to be able to go out there, take care of business.”
With a 10-0 blowout victory against the White Sox on Friday, the Cubs shrunk their magic number to one. So, when the Cardinals lost on Saturday, they were ready to reap the rewards.
“I think the front office, and the people associated with this team and the players and the coaches that have been part of this this magnificent run that these guys have gone on for such a long period of time,” Ross said, "are going to be really proud. They're going to look back and say, ‘Man, we we've done something.'
“And I don't think that the end of the script is written yet for this group.”