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CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs have already clinche
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panxing18 Offline
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CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs have already clinche

d a spot in the National League playoffs.But as they begin their final regular-season series against the rival St. Louis Cardinals on Friday at Wrigley Field , the Cubs realize they need to be in the right mentality as they push for their third straight NL Central title.After a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, the Cubs lowered their magic number to three to clinch the division title. More important, the win increased their lead over the idle second-place Milwaukee Brewers to one game in the Central.Article continues below ...While the Cubs’ postseason berth has already been secured, they are hoping to hold off the surging Brewers for the title. That will make the next three games against the Cardinals critically important.“I think these are all playoff games to get us ready for October,” Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. told reporters Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Cubs will continue to play without shortstop Addison Russell. Major League Baseball extended his administrative leave through Sunday as Russell remains under investigation for alleged domestic violence against his ex-wife.The Cubs have also been hampered with injuries, which makes finding a way to stick together for the next three days even more important. “(It’s) all hands on deck,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo told reporters, according to the Tribune. “We got to figure out how to win.”Kyle Hendricks (13-11 Hector Rondon Jersey , 3.49 ERA) will start for the Cubs on Friday and will be in search of his third straight victory.Hendricks has allowed just one earned run in three of his four starts in September and has at least worked into the seventh inning in each of his past two starts. He is 4-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 career stats against St. Louis.While the Cubs have plenty at stake, the Cardinals still have plenty of incentive. After being swept by the Brewers punctuated by a tough-to-swallow 2-1 loss on Wednesday, St. Louis could still find their way into the wild-card picture if they can find a way to get back on track in Chicago.But knowing the Cubs will be looking to still capture the division title, the Cardinals know what they’re up against.“In my mind, we have to win all three games — that’s all there is to it,” Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright told reporters on Wednesday, according to the team’s official website.“We had ourselves in a good spot and we just got beat three games by a good team over there and we did not make the pitches we needed to, make the plays we needed to, didn’t hit the way we needed to and that’s a good way to lose a baseball game Anthony Gose Jersey , lose a series and get swept against a good team. You’ve got to capitalize and we had our chances certainly.”Wainwright will look to snap the Cardinals’ three-game skid when he takes the mound in Friday’s series opener. Wainwright (2-3, 4.08) has allowed four earned runs in two of his three September starts and will attempt to get St. Louis started in the right direction against Chicago, against whom he has a 15-9 career record in 44 outings (35 starts) with a 3.94 ERA. MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jorge Lopez was so calm on the mound that Royals catcher Salvador Perez didn’t even realize the rookie had a perfect game going until the late innings.The right-hander came within three outs of perfection before Max Kepler walked leading off the ninth and Robbie Grossman followed with a single in Kansas City’s 4-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night.“I was so close and I think my heart accelerated a little bit,” Lopez said.The 25-year-old made just his seventh big league start, his fifth for Kansas City since he was acquired from Milwaukee in the late-July trade that sent Mike Moustakas to the Brewers.Lopez (2-4) retired his first 24 batters before walking Kepler on a 3-1 fastball. Grossman then smacked a clean single to center field on a 1-2 changeup.“It was the first time he had to go to the stretch the whole game,” Grossman said. “He made some quality pitches against me. I just got enough of the last changeup and hit it up the middle, and luckily missed his glove.”Lopez was removed after 110 pitches, 11 more than his previous high.Ehire Adrianza hit a sacrifice fly off Wily Peralta, who retired Joe Mauer and Jorge Polanco on flyouts for his ninth save , completing the one-hitter.Lopez struck out four and went to five three-ball counts before the walk, including his first three batters of the game.“Last inning was when I got all the emotion,” Lopez said. “I should have not thought about it, like, ‘Let’s just get another inning.’ But that’s experience from what we learned, and next time it will help get another win for the team.”His perfect-game bid was preserved when Jorge Polanco’s fourth-inning liner was caught by right fielder Jorge Bonifacio with a jump in front of the warning track, and when Jake Cave’s liner was snagged by left fielder Alex Gordon with a sliding grab in the fifth.“Gordy saw the ball, looked at (center fielder Brian) Goodwin and looked back up and couldn’t find the ball,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He was like Francisco Liriano Jersey , ‘I’m just going to run and hope I find it again,’ and he did and made the catch. When he told me that I was like, ‘OK, this might be one of those nights.'”Lopez was trying to become the second pitcher since at least 1900 to throw a perfect game within his first 10 major league starts. Charles Robertson was perfect in his fourth start with the Chicago White Sox in 1922.Kansas City has never thrown a perfect game and there haven’t been any in the majors since Seattle’s Felix Hernandez threw the 23rd in history, against Tampa Bay on Aug. 15, 2012. The gap between perfect games is the longest since Catfish Hunter’s for Oakland against the Twins in 1968 and Len Barker’s for Cleveland versus Toronto in 1981.Bret Saberhagen pitched Kansas City’s most recent no-hitter, against the Chicago White Sox in 1991. There have been three no-hitters in the major leagues this year, by Oakland’s Sean Manaea, Seattle’s James Paxton and a combined effort by four Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers.Hunter Dozier hit an RBI single in the sixth off Jose Berrios (11-11) , who gave up one run and three hits in six innings.Whit Merrifield had a run-scoring single in a three-run seventh off Tyler Duffey and scored on Adalberto Mondesi’s double. Gordon added an RBI single against Andrew Vasquez.“I just sat there; I didn’t want to move,” Yost said. “My heart started pounding I think in about the eighth inning. When we scored those runs it made me feel better. Really wanted to get the fifth run there to try and give us a little more leeway in that situation going into the ninth.”RUNNING OUT OF TIMEMinnesota moved closer to elimination from the AL Central race. Cleveland’s magic number is five for clinching a third consecutive division crown.BERRIOS BOUNCES BACKBerrios was winless with a 6.56 ERA in his previous five starts, with 13 walks in 21 2/3 innings. After making his first career All-Star appearance, the right-hander had gone 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA in eight starts since the break. “We talked about the mental aspect of the game and I thought he was in a good place,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “I thought he was in attack mode for the most part.”TRAINER’S ROOMTwins: An MRI cleared 3B Miguel Sano of any issues with his sore leg stemming from a slide into second base last week. Molitor hopes Sano could be ready to return in the next couple of days. … 1B-DH Tyler Austin (back) is out for the weekend series, but Molitor hopes the former Yankees prospect is able to return next week when New York comes to town. “Maybe the Yankees will be a little bit of motivation for him,” Molitor said.UP NEXTRoyals: RHP Ian Kennedy (1-8, 5.13 ERA) will be activated from the disabled list to start Sunday’s series finale. Kennedy has been out since July 10 with a left oblique strain.Twins: RHP Chase De Jong will make his first major league start of 2018 and his first for Minnesota since he was acquired from Seattle on July 30 in a trade that sent left-handed reliever Zach Duke to the Mariners. De Jong was 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in seven games for Seattle in 2017.
02-22-2019 05:12 AM
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