The Cubs’ season ends on a sour note with a 2-1 loss to the Rockies in the 2018 NL Wild Card Game. There will be no more playoff games or World Series aspirations for the club this year after back-to-back losses the past two days.
Jon Lester deserves a good deal of credit for keeping the Cubs’ season alive Tuesday even when the bats were cold. The left-hander allowed just one run and struck out nine in six pressure-packed innings to hand the game off to the bullpen with the deficit still close.
Then in the eighth inning, Baez came through as you expect from an MVP candidate by uncorking a line drive to center field to knock in pinch runner Terrance Gore for the game-tying run.
However, the Rockies came through in the 13th inning with an RBI single from Tony Wolters that put them ahead for good in the longest playoff game in Wrigley Field history.
Cubs fans surely won’t forget this game anytime soon, sadly for the worst reasons. Relive it below if you dare.
Final score: Rockies 2, Cubs 1
Rockies 2, Cubs 1: Javy Baez strikes out on a high slider. The Cubs’ season comes down to one more out.
Rockies 2, Cubs 1: Terrance Gore chases a 3-2 pitch out of the zone for a strikeout.
Rockies 2, Cubs 1: Another weird sequence with a pitch that almost hit Terrance Gore but instead narrowly missed him and hit the umpire. It was initially ruled a hit-by-pitch and Gore was awarded first base, but a video review of the HBP overturned the call. Gore has a 3-2 count.
Rockies 2, Cubs 1: Jorge De La Rosa steps in to strike out David Dahl for an inning-ending strikeout, but now the Cubs have three outs to score or their season is done. It’s now or never.
Rockies 2, Cubs 1: Tony Wolters puts the Rockies ahead in the top of the 13th with an RBI single off Kyle Hendricks.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: And now comes the danger. Back-to-back singles by Trevor Story and Gerardo Parra put the potential go-ahead run on third base with two outs.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Kyle Hendricks gets off to a proper start with a pair of quick outs on D.J. LaMahieu and Nolan Arenado.
Twelfth inning: Cubs 1, Rockies 1
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Kris Bryant strikes out looking for the final out of the 12th inning. Hope you’re not getting tired yet!
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Cole Hamels’ work ends with the Cubs turning to Justin Wilson and Kyle Hendricks, who team up for a 1-2-3 inning.
Eleventh inning: Cubs 1, Rockies 1
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Victor Caratini comes in after the chaotic scene of The Hug and grounds out to first base. We’re headed to a 12th inning of increasingly weird baseball.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Following a brief break for Willson Contreras to be checked by trainers, he grounds out in a fielder’s choice that ends with Javy Baez in a bear hug with Nolan Arenado. The Cubs have one more out to try to capitalize here and end this.
The hug heard round the world pic.twitter.com/0QwhYWckxa— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) October 3, 2018
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Albert Almora Jr. successfully bunts Javy Baez over to second base, then Baez starts eyeing third but Drew Butera is able to get there in time to cut it off. Cubs have the game-winning run on second base with one out.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Javy Baez draws a leadoff walk to open the bottom of the 11th.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Danger dodged! Cole Hamels gets the groundout from David Dahl to end the frame.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Kris Bryant tries to go to second base with a grounder to his left but the throw isn’t there in time to beat a hustling Gerardo Parra. Bases loaded.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Cole Hamels induces a pop-up from Trevor Story for a big second out in the inning, but walks Gerardo Parra to put two on with two outs. Now comes Ian Desmond.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Nolan Arenado gets on base for the first time Tuesday night with a one-out single up the middle.
Tenth inning: Cubs 1, Rockies 1
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Okay maybe Terrance Gore isn’t going to save the day.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Trevor Story makes a huge stop for the second out in the bottom of the 10th. That means the Cubs will bring up Terrance Gore – yes, Terrance Gore – with two outs.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: A rare relief appearance for Cole Hamels, who came through in the top of the 10th with a shutout inning despite allowing a one-out single to Carlos Gonzalez. He finished off the inning to cheers with a strikeout of Pat Valaika.
Ninth inning: Cubs 1, Rockies 1
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Kyle Schwarber strikes out, then Jason Heyward grounds out. We’re heading to extra innings at Wrigley.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Willson Contreras walks with one out to put the game-tying run on base. Kyle Schwarber is coming up as a pinch-hitter. Contreras was hyped:
Bat flipping on TWO walks? It's not called the mild card, fam. pic.twitter.com/LNrhvvYTLk— Cut4 (@Cut4) October 3, 2018
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: A big fist bump from Pedro Strop and the crowd goes wild after he strikes out Ian Desmond to get out of the inning.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Trevor Story hits a one-out single to put the go-ahead run on the base paths, then Gerardo Parra moves him up to second with a fielder’s choice to first base.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Pedro Strop makes his grand return on the biggest stage to try to get the Cubs to the bottom of the ninth and opens with a strikeout.
Eighth inning: Cubs 1, Rockies 1
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: Albert Almora Jr. couldn’t come through with a hit at the right time, instead striking out with Javy Baez standing on third base to end the inning. It’s all tied up heading to the ninth.
Cubs 1, Rockies 1: JAVY BAEZ!! The Cubs’ MVP candidate delivers with a game-tying RBI double to right-center field. The Cubs aren’t going down without a fight.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Terrance Gore pinch runs for Rizzo and steals second base. He’s now in scoring position with Baez at the plate.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Anthony Rizzo cracks a line drive up the middle with two outs for a single to bring Javy Baez to the plate with the game-tying run on first base.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: The Cubs are down to their final four outs after a Ben Zobrist groundout and Kris Bryant strikeout.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: A big double play holds up after a review to end the top of the eighth inning.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Drew Butera, one of the Rockies’ worst hitters, draws a walk to open the top of the eighth against Randy Rosario. Not an ideal start there.
Seventh inning: Rockies 1, Cubs 0
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Jason Heyward strikes out on a 2-2 count with the bases loaded. Crushing out there. We’re onto the eighth inning.
Adam Ottavino brought the heat:
Adam Ottavino's pitch to strike out Jason Heyward was tied for his hardest pitch of the year.— Daren Willman (@darenw) October 3, 2018
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: An apparent third out by Tommy La Stella takes a stunning turn when the umpire rules interference on Rockies catcher Drew Butera, who just entered the game this inning. The Cubs now have the bases loaded with two outs and Jason Heyward stepping up to the plate.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Adam Ottavino enters the game to pitch against Willson Conteras and promptly throws a wild pitch that pushes Albert Almora Jr. into scoring position, then Contreras draws the walk. Two runners on with two outs.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Trevor Story makes a stunning diving catch to save a Daniel Murphy single that would’ve put a runner in scoring position. The Rockies’ infield defense has been stellar in this game.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Albert Almora Jr. improves to 2-for-3 in the game with a one-out single.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Chris Iannetta flies out to left field to wrap up Jesse Chavez’s latest shutout inning. It’s fair to say the pitching staff has gotten its job done so far.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: The Cubs’ defense comes through again with Kris Bryant throwing out Ian Desmond trying to tag up to second base on a fly ball deep to left field.
Sixth inning: Rockies 1, Cubs 0
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Anthony Rizzo double play. That went from very loud to very quiet in a moment. Yeesh.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: After a Ben Zobrist strikeout, the Cubs get a big break when David Dahl misplays a pop fly in right field off the bat of Kris Bryant. The Cubs now have runners on first and second with one out and the crowd waiting to burst.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Ian Happ, pinch-hitting for Jon Lester, delivers with the leadoff walk to open the bottom of the sixth. Expect there to be some discussion about the decision to pull Lester after this one, regardless of what happens from here.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Big, big strikeout of Matt Holliday to end the inning with the crowd going wild. There’s some energy in the building.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Welp. Trevor Story hits a two-out double into the gap.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Jon Lester keeps dealing by inducing two consecutive grounders to open the bottom of the sixth. He’s in a groove.
Lester has retired 17 of 19 since the first two batters of the game.— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) October 3, 2018
Fifth inning: Rockies 1, Cubs 0
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: We’re settling into a pitcher’s duel as Kyle Freeland needed just eight pitches for another 1-2-3 frame. He’s needed just 55 pitches to get through five innings.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Jon Lester delivers a 1-2-3 inning of his own punctuated by a groundout from Charlie Blackmon. He’s thrown 69 pitches so far.
Fourth inning: Rockies 1, Cubs 0
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Kyle Freeland keeps rolling with another 1-2-3 inning through the middle of the Cubs’ batting order. The home team still hasn’t advanced a batter to second base yet.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Jon Lester gets a favorable call on a 3-2 pitch to strike out Ian Desmond, then induces a soft grounder from David Dahl to wrap up the frame. The Cubs lefty has struck out six through four innings.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Matt Holliday channels his past postseason greatness with a one-out double to get the Rockies into scoring position.
Third inning: Rockies 1, Cubs 0
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: A quick 1-2-3 inning for Kyle Freeland, who needed just nine pitches to get through his third inning of work.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Charlie Blackmon singles with one out but Jon Lester responds by striking out D.J. LeMahieu and inducing a grounder from Nolan Arenado to get out of the inning.
Second inning: Rockies 1, Cubs 0
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: After Daniel Murphy grounds into a fielder’s choice, Willson Contreras cracks a line drive into center field that Charlie Blackmon runs down. Each team gets a strong defensive play from its center fielder this inning.
From @ESPNStatsInfo : Charlie Blackmon had a catch probability of 57 percent on the Willson Contreras lineout. By that metric, that's his 2nd-most unlikely catch this season, according to Statcast— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) October 3, 2018
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Albert Almora Jr. making good things happen again with a single to lead off the bottom of the second.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Albert Almora Jr. makes the first big defensive play of the game with a jumping catch at the warning track in center field. He tracked the ball perfectly and saved what undoubtedly would’ve been an extra-base hit for Colorado.
First inning: Rockies 1, Cubs 0
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Javy Baez is struck out with a nasty off-speed pitch to end the inning.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Call overturned, Zobrist is safe at first. Javy Baez at the plate with two outs.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Kris Bryant strikes out and Anthony Rizzo flies out to right field, then we get some drama. Ben Zobrist is called out on a pick-off throw to first base but the replays show it’s incredibly close. Joe Maddon is challenging the call.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: A much different start than a day ago with Ben Zobrist smacking a single up the middle to lead off the Cubs’ night at the plate.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Jon Lester limits the damage with back-to-back strikeouts of Trevor Story and Matt Holliday to strand a runner on third base. A strong rebound from the Cubs starter after stumbling out of the gate.
Rockies 1, Cubs 0: Colorado gets on the board with a sacrifice fly from third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Cubs 0, Rockies 0: Not a good start for Jon Lester and the Cubs. Charlie Blackmon walks to open the game then D.J. LeMahieu hits a ball into the gap that gets lodged in the ivy for a double. The Rockies now have runners on second and third with no outs and their best hitters coming up.
Before the game
The Cubs put their World Series hopes on the line Tuesday night against the Rockies in the 2018 NL Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field. The one-game, winner-take-all showdown will send one team to face the Brewers in the NLDS starting Thursday, while the other will have a long offseason ahead to wonder what could’ve been.
Action starts at 7:08 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ESPN.
Jon Lester takes the mound for the Cubs in a matchup of left-handed starters against Colorado’s Kyle Freeland. Lester has posted a 2.55 ERA in 25 career MLB postseason appearances (including 21 starts) and finished the 2018 regular season strong with a 1.71 ERA in 47.1 innings over his final eight outings.
The pressure will be on against a good team that’s sending one of its top starters to the mound. Freeland, a 2014 first-round pick, recorded a 2.85 ERA with 173 strikeouts and 70 walks in 202.1 innings during the regular season. He’s been unhittable against lefties all season by allowing a .185/.264/.255 batting line to them.
As a result of Freeland’s dominance of left-handers, Joe Maddon is turning to a righty-heavy lineup for the must-win game. Ben Zobrist leads off, Albert Almora Jr. moves into the fifth spot and David Bote makes his postseason debut in the eighth spot. The usual suspects of Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo join Zobrist at the top of the batting order.
How to watch NL Wild Card Game
Time: 7:08 p.m. CT
Live stream: WatchESPN