Column: Which way will the ball bounce down the stretch for the Chicago Cubs?

I woke up Sunday morning to a text from a Chicago Cubs fan who had a sleepless night after watching their 13-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I guess the good lord doesn’t want the Cubs to win,” the text read.

He was referring to Harry Caray’s call of a 3-2 win over the Montreal Expos on Aug. 2, 1984, before any of the current Cubs players were born. Expos star Pete Rose hit a liner off closer Lee Smith that deflected into the air and was caught on the fly by shortstop Dave Owen, who threw to first for a game-ending double play.

“Cubs win, Cubs win, what a lucky break,” Caray yelled. “The good lord wants the Cubs to win.”

Flash forward 39 years later to Saturday night, when the Cubs were one out from beating the Diamondbacks in 13 innings before Emmanuel Rivera hit a line drive that deflected off reliever Hayden Wesneski’s right elbow and into the air toward shortstop Dansby Swanson.

Instead of running in and attempting a game-ending catch off the ricochet, Swanson inexplicably let the ball drop to try and throw Rivera out at first base. He couldn’t get a grip on it, and the tying run scored.

“Oh, no,” Marquee analyst Jim Deshaies said of the unfortunate turn of events in decibels much lower than Ron Santo’s famous “Oh, no” call during a blown game in the 1998 wild-card race.

The Diamondbacks then won 7-6 on Gabriel Moreno’s RBI single, sending the Cubs to their fourth straight loss, and followed up with a 6-2 win Sunday, sweeping the series and taking over the second National League wild-card spot. The Cubs were tied for the third spot entering Monday with the Miami Marlins.

“In hindsight, if I could have come in and tried to dive and caught it, that probably would’ve been the best move,” Swanson told reporters of the ball that deflected off Wesneski. “I was setting up to try and catch and throw to first base, but obviously, in hindsight, would have tried to dive and catch it in the air.”

Whether some higher power guided the deflection to Owen in ’84 or allowed the deflection off Wesneski to bounce Saturday is a question best left to theologians. But I do know the Cubs won the National League East by 6 1/2 games in 1984, so the wild win over the Expos in early August wasn’t crucial in the big scheme of things.

Whether the crushing 13-inning loss to the Diamondbacks affects the ’23 Cubs in the playoff push remains to be seen. But if they miss the playoffs by one game, it will be an easy one for fans to look back on in anger — having watched Cubs relievers waste leads in the 10th, 11th and 13th innings in an excruciating loss.

The Cubs can make it moot by making the playoffs.

They still have a good shot, albeit not as good as on Sept. 6 …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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