The White Sox needed a win on Sunday to keep their chances alive for their first AL Central crown since 2008.
The Cubs, resting regulars like Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ, Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward had different plans, beating the South Siders 10-8 to conclude the regular season.
Adbert Alzolay was sharp in five innings, José Quintana threw two shutout innings in relief and rookie Brailyn Marquez made his big league debut.
Kris Bryant kick-started the scoring with his second home run in as many days, carrying over Saturday’s hot return from his oblique ailment
Quick takes from the game:
Alzolay makes his case
If there isn’t already a spot for him, Alzolay has shown in his last two outings that he’s deserving of a spot on the Cubs’ first-round postseason roster.
After throwing four innings of one-run ball on Tuesday, the rookie threw five solid innings in a start Sunday. Alzolay allowed a run on two hits, the extent of the damage being an Adam Engel home run in the fifth. He walked just two while striking out eight — a career-high.
With no in-series off days this postseason until the World Series, pitching depth will be key for every team. If Alzolay isn’t on next week’s roster, we’ll likely see him at some point. He’s at least given the Cubs something to think about over the next few days.
Welcome to The Show
Cubs top pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez made his debut in the eighth inning Sunday after being promoted from their South Bend site.
Marquez appeared (understandably) amped up, missing up and out with fastballs early. The 21-year-old walked three of the seven batters he faced, also throwing two wild pitches and allowing a single and a double.
Marquez showed his high potential, striking out José Abreu with an elevated 99 mph fastball and getting Yasmani Grandal on a broken-bat 6-3 ground out. He was charged for five runs on 33 pitches.
Billy Hamilton’s value to the Cubs postseason roster was on full display Sunday.
With Hamilton on third in the second inning, Cameron Maybin attempted to steal second. Sox pitcher Carlos Rodón slide-stepped and threw to first baseman José Abreu, who threw a relay to shortstop Tim Anderson at second.
Hamilton took off for home on Abreu's throw, and while Anderson's throw home was on time, Hamilton slid in safely to make it 6-0. He also stole second in the seventh, advancing to third on the same play due to a wild pitch.
One run is often the difference in October, making Hamilton’s speed a potent weapon for the Cubs for close, late-game situations, should he make their roster(s). He finished the day 2-for-4 with two stolen bases and a home run, his first since Aug. 29, 2018.
The Cubs locked up the NL’s No. 3 seed by winning the division on Saturday. And with the Marlins’ win over the Yankees Sunday, the Cubs will take on Miami in the first-round of the playoffs next week.
The series is a best-of-three, and all three will be played at Wrigley Field.