Cubs thrilled to give fans playoff games at Wrigley Field
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The Cubs haven’t come close to checking off the big boxes on their postseason to-do list. Except this one: Assuring a home playoff date.
Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Monday is the first postseason game at Wrigley Field since the errors-around-the-horn Game 2 loss to the Dodgers in the 2008 division series.
“That was something that everyone in the organization wanted, from ownership to the front office to the players,” team president Theo Epstein said. “We really wanted to give our fans a playoff experience at Wrigley because of how supportive they’ve been and what they’ve had to go through the last three-plus years.”
After three tanked seasons that resulted, in part, in the first-round draft selections of rookie sensations Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs arrived at least a year early by most projections — but only after sweating out a wild-card victory in Pittsburgh.
“That was one of the things I was thinking about afterwards in Pittsburgh,” Epstein said. “I hope this is the start of a magical, deep run into October. But we also know it means giving our fans playoff baseball at Wrigley and how exciting that’ll be, how much they deserve it. It’s a great feeling.”
Bryant, the presumptive NL Rookie of the Year, might be the Cub most looking forward to playing at home for the first time in two weeks, after nine consecutive road games.
He’s 2-for-30 with nine strikeouts since the Cubs’ last home game Sept. 28, including 0-for-11 in the playoffs.
“I’m definitely excited to get back home and get some good food in Chicago and all that stuff,” said Bryant, whose home cooking includes a .311 average, .408 on-base percentage and 1.037 on-base-plus-slugging percentage at Wrigley Field. His slash line is .243/.333/.693 on the road.
“I think you always hit better at home just because you play more games there and you’re in front of your fans,” Bryant said. “I’ve hit some balls really hard, just right at people. I think in the playoffs, it’s definitely more pitcher–oriented.”
Maddon wasn’t kidding about having breakfast at Wrigley on Sunday.
Buffet tables were set up behind home plate and along the third-base line with an array of food and beverages, including a carving station and hot offerings.
“It was actually breakfast on Wrigley,” Maddon said with a smile.
The large video screen also was showing the Bears-Chiefs game, as Maddon suggested a night earlier.
One more victory by the Cubs would give them 100 for the season, including the playoffs, which would be a 70-year first for the franchise. The 1945 team won 98 games in the regular season and three in the World Series loss.
υ The only home postseason clincher in Chicago baseball history was the White Sox’ Game 6 World Series victory in 1906 — against the Cubs.
Contributing: Toni Ginnetti
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