Fan interference contributed to a Pittsburgh rally, but Chicago had already qualified for postseason play thanks to a St. Louis loss.
It was an eerily familiar scene at Wrigley Field as a Cubs player reached out to grab a foul ball for an out, only to have a fan snatch it away. The result was more positive on Wednesday than it was after the Steve Bartman incident in 2003, as Chicago rebounded from losing a 6-4 lead and came back to win, 7-6, in 10 innings.
Steve Bartman pt. 2??? pic.twitter.com/nd0iQ6nL5e— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) September 27, 2018
There was one on and one out in the ninth when Francisco Cervelli hit a pop-up just to the side of the netting on the first-base side of the field in foul territory. Anthony Rizzo raced over and got his glove in position to catch the ball but a fan, unaware of Rizzo’s proximity, reached out and caught it barehanded.
Social media exploded with mentions of the Bartman incident, which happened on a foul ball in the 2003 playoffs, but just like in that game it was a failure of the Cubs’s pitching staff on Wednesday, as much as anything to do with the fan, that really caused the brief implosion. After the fan gave Cervelli new life, Pittsburgh’s catcher doubled, and then he and Kevin Newman both scored on a double by Starling Marte that tied the game.
If the Cubs had lost, which would have allowed the Brewers to leapfrog into first place, it could have resurfaced some very painful feelings in Chicago, but they were able to win it in the 10th thanks to a walk, a sacrifice bunt and a walkoff single by Albert Almora Jr.
The Cubs game, while dramatic, came after both the Cubs and Brewers had already clinched playoff spots thanks to Milwaukee’s win over St. Louis. In that game, the Cardinals tried to get around the Brewers’ candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award, Christian Yelich, by walking the slugger five times, but that backfired as he scored both of Milwaukee’s runs in a 2-1 victory.
Travis Shaw handled all of the Brewers’ offensive production, hitting singles in the third and fifth innings — both of which drove in Yelich — and the Brewers got some luck in the bottom of the eighth inning with a bizarre play in which Jose Martinez hit a single that, through a comedy of errors, nearly drove in the tying run. Instead, Adolis Garcia, a pinch-runner, tripped as he came around third base and then was tagged out at home despite Erik Kratz seemingly not seeing him coming for a moment.
National League Wild-Card
The Brewers came into the day with a three-and-a-half-game lead over the Colorado Rockies for the top wild-card position, while the Rockies had a half-game lead over the Cardinals for the second spot.
To keep pace with the Brewers meant the Rockies needed a win, and they delivered in a big way with a 14-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
It was a dominant effort by Colorado, with their starting pitcher, German Marquez, striking out the first eight batters he saw, and 11 over all. The Rockies’ hitters did most of their damage in a seven-run fifth inning, with David Dahl homering for a third consecutive game.
The win increased the Rockies’ lead over the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot to one and a half games.
National League West
The Los Angeles Dodgers came into the day leading the Colorado Rockies by a half-game.
In what has been the most competitive division race all month, the Rockies took a half-game lead over the Dodgers with their 14-0 hammering of Philadelphia. The Dodgers lost their lead after falling to Zack Greinke and the Diamondbacks, 7-2.
American League Wild-Card
Both the Yankees and the Oakland Athletics have clinched wild-card spots, but the Yankees entered the day with a two-and-a-half-game lead over Oakland for home-field advantage.
Neil Walker’s three-run homer in the first inning gave the Yankees an early lead, but their pitching let them down and a late comeback came up just short in an eventual 8-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Yankees got just four innings from Masahiro Tanaka, who allowed six hits and four runs (three earned), while striking out four. Tampa Bay’s opener, Ryan Stanek, put his team behind by allowing Walker’s home run, but the Yankees did not score again until a four-run rally in the top of the ninth inning that came to a crashing halt when Miguel Andujar popped out to third with runners on the corners.
The loss reduced the Yankees’ lead over Oakland to one and a half games after the Athletics beat Seattle, 9-3, behind a Matt Olson grand slam.