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Chicago Cubs Clinch Central Division, Take NL Central Back-To-Back Years

Chicago Cubs Clinch The Division lawood1981 - Via - Flickr


Chicago Cubs Clinch The Division, Take NL Central Back-To-Back Years

The Chicago Cubs clinch the division!

This season, the Chicago Cubs came in as World Series Champs, something they have not done since they headed into the 1909 season. Many felt they would be hit hard by a ‘World Series Hangover’ and not be the same team as they were in 2016. That was true, at least for the first half of the season. Heading into the All-Star Break they were below .500 with a 43-45 record. The Cubs were in luck as they were in second place in the division.

Since the All-Star break, they have gone 46-24 and have outscored opponents by 118 runs. They have held control of first place in the division since July 26th after taking it over from the Milwaukee Brewers. Thursday evening, the Cubs had one major goal after coming close to doing it the night before and that was to get the win. A 3-run Addison Russell home run and a strong performance by John Lackey led the way for the Cubs. The Cubs defeat the St. Louis Cardinal 5-1, clinching the National League Central Division for the second consecutive season.

Game Recap

John Lackey headed into Thursday’s matchup with a bit of uncertainty for his future as the playoffs near. His game plan was to prove it to the Cubs why he belongs on the playoff roster as well as help the Chicago Cubs clinch the division.

Michael Wacha battled with Lackey through the first six innings only giving up two singles, one came off the bat of Jon Jay to lead off the game. Wacha did hit Anthony Rizzo in the first inning and Rizzo was not too pleased but he didn’t react.

Cardinals score first during the second inning on a Paul DeJong single to center field scoring Jedd Gyorko and advancing Jose Martinez. Lackey ends up escaping the inning with only down that lone run. Lackey ends up going six innings allowing 2 hits and one earned run with two walks and three strikeouts.

It wasn’t until the third time around in the order that Cubs really got to Wacha. Rizzo starts the seventh off with a single and then Ben Zobrist gets himself a single, putting runners at the corners. Addison Russell takes Wacha deep for a three-run home to take the lead.

“Not so fast,” said the bottom half of the order. Javier Baez doubles and head home on Jason Heyward single to right field. Matt Bowman comes into pitch. Tommy La Stella comes in to pinch hit for Lackey with runners on base. La Stella doubles with two strikes to Dexter Fowler, scoring Heyward from second. Rene Rivera advanced to the third but was left stranded. All five runs were charged to Wacha. Cubs lead 5-1.

Wacha does not return. He allowed five runs over six innings while giving up seven hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.

During the eighth inning, the Cardinals had two outs and runners in scoring position after Greg Garcia was able to beat out a possible double play. C.J. Edwards came in and ended up walking Tommy Pham. Edwards got Dexter Fowler to fly out to Heyward with bases loaded to end the inning.

John Lackey’s performance earned him his 12th win of the season.

Cubs bullpen combined for three hits, no runs, one walk and three strikeouts over the final three innings. Thus, the Chicago Cubs clinch the division.

Central Division Title

Cubs have now won the NL Central Division in back-to-season which is something that is rather rare for the ballclub. The last time they have done such a thing was the 2007 and 2008 season when Lou Pinella was the manager. It’s also the first time a defending World Series Champion has won their division the following season since the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies.

This also only the second time in the history of the organization making it to the playoffs in three straight seasons, last time was from 1906-1908.


Cubs have won all four of John Lackey’s starts this season against the St. Louis. “He’s had good success in this ballpark. He’s pitched well against this team. And he likes this time of the year,” Maddon added. During the Cubs celebrations, reporters have reported seeing the team toasting Lackey as tonight’s start could be his last career regular-season start. He has been in the league since 2002 going 188-146 and has made the nine-time (this year will be his tenth) and has won three World Series titles, 2002 with the Anaheim Angels, 2013 with the Boston Red Sox, and 2016 with the Chicago Cubs.

Cubs are back at it tomorrow for the season series finale. Kyle Hendrick (7-5) will pitch in his final regular game of the season. For the Cardinal, Lance Lynn is looking to make a statement as he is heading into free agency this offseason.

For more on the matchup checkout:

Chicago Cubs defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1, The Chicago Cubs clinch the division for the second consecutive time.