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NL Wild Card

Deja adieu: Cubs' ace bounces Bucs

MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs' first step toward their ultimate goal of ending a 107-year World Series championship drought was contentious, yet also decisive.

Jake Arrieta weaved his routine spell, and rookie Kyle Schwarber drove in the first three runs -- two on a majestic 450-foot homer out of PNC Park -- and Chicago blanked Pittsburgh, 4-0, in Wednesday night's National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser to advance to face the Cardinals in the NL Division Series, which begins on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET on TBS.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs' first step toward their ultimate goal of ending a 107-year World Series championship drought was contentious, yet also decisive.

Jake Arrieta weaved his routine spell, and rookie Kyle Schwarber drove in the first three runs -- two on a majestic 450-foot homer out of PNC Park -- and Chicago blanked Pittsburgh, 4-0, in Wednesday night's National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser to advance to face the Cardinals in the NL Division Series, which begins on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET on TBS.

View Full Game Coverage

Shop for Cubs postseason gear

It was the first-ever postseason meeting between the Cubs and Pirates, two of baseball's most storied franchises. The Cubs move from one historic matchup to another against the archrival Cardinals, another team against whom they have not played in the postseason.

:: NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates -- Coverage ::

"We came out and we fought early," said Arrieta. "We got one on the board in the first, then we kind of settled in. We got a couple more a couple innings later, and from there, it was pound the zone and try to get as many outs as quick as possible."

'Different cat' Arrieta dominates Pirates

The Pirates did not go down without a fight. After a one-out, bases-loaded rally was snuffed out by an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the sixth inning, the benches cleared in the top of the seventh, when Tony Watson hit Arrieta with a pitch. Sean Rodriguez was ejected.

Arrieta threw a four-hit complete game, which was his intention, and struck out 11. What was his pitch count?

"It was infinity," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

"I wanted to finish what I started and be the guy to get the last out," Arrieta said. "That was the mind-set."

Despite familiarity, Pirates can't solve Arrieta

By ending a nine-game postseason losing streak that dated back to Game 4 of the 2003 NL Championship Series, Chicago advanced to the NL Division Series that begins in St. Louis on Friday. The Cubs' Jon Lester will face the Cards' John Lackey in Game 1 in the first postseason meeting of the longtime NL rivals.

Advancing to the NLDS also means that the Cubs will play at least one postseason game at Wrigley Field, with Game 3 scheduled for Monday.

"The most important thing is we get to play a game at Wrigley," Maddon said. "That was important to me."

Conversely, the Bucs dropped a second consecutive home Wild Card Game, this one short-circuiting a season in which they won 98 regular-season games, the Majors' second-most wins. In 2014, they dropped that Wild Card Game, 8-0, to the eventual World Series champ Giants behind a gem from ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

"We had some opportunities, just weren't able to key [in] on those," said Andrew McCutchen, who went 1-for-4. "[Arrieta] found a way to keep coming up with the big pitches when he had to."

Schwarber gave the Cubs an instant one-run lead off Gerrit Cole with a first-inning RBI single, and two innings later followed the second of Dexter Fowler's three hits with his homer. Fowler added a fifth-inning solo homer off Cole, who had not allowed the Cubs a home run in 27 previous innings this season and a total of only two in 58 prior career innings against Chicago.

Things don't go to plan for Cole vs. Cubs

"I couldn't really get into a good rhythm," said Cole. "I wasn't able to make pitches when I needed to. The two home runs were bad. I was trying to figure things out out there, trying to find something to go to, something to work. It's just one of those nights."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Tempers flared: Arrieta hit Francisco Cervelli in the fifth and Josh Harrison in the sixth, and the Pirates retaliated in the seventh, when Watson plunked him. Both benches emptied, and after plenty of shoving and shouting, the Bucs' Rodriguez was ejected. Home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson issued warnings to both sides. More >

"[Umpire John Hirschbeck] told me that Rodriguez was kicked out for them and the warning was issued and let's get through this thing, and I said, 'I'm with you man, 100 percent,'" Maddon said. "I was really surprised at what happened."

"I'm never trying to hit or hurt anybody," said Arrieta. "Balls were slick tonight. I just lost it a couple times. It kind of ran away from me. I expected that. They're going to take care of their own guys. It's understandable. Everything after that was fine."

Video: NL WC: Tempers flare after Arrieta is hit by a pitch

Electric crowd unplugged: For the second straight Wild Card Game, a jacked-up PNC Park crowd -- at 40,889, the largest ever -- was quickly subdued. Two batters into the game, the Pirates trailed, 1-0, as Fowler led off with a single, stole second and scored on Schwarber's opposite-field single. More >

Video: NL WC: Schwarber's RBI single gives Cubs early lead

Hit parade: Maddon's message to Fowler is "you go, we go," and the veteran followed that advice. In the first inning, he singled, stole second and scored on Schwarber's opposite-field single. Fowler set up Schwarber again in the third; he singled with one out, and the rookie launched a 2-1 pitch from Cole over the right-field bleachers to open a three-run lead. According to Statcast™, the ball came off Schwarber's bat at 111.34 mph and was launched a projected 450 feet. How far has he come? A year ago, Schwarber was playing in the instructional league in Arizona.

"It was a good feeling," said Schwarber. "It came off solid. It was a good situation to do it in. Dexter did a great job today getting on base and getting a homer. Hats off to him. Hats off to the whole team today." Video: NL WC: Schwarber pads lead with mammoth two-run homer

"He hit that ball, and I couldn't even celebrate, because I wanted to see how far it went," Chicago's David Ross said.

Pirates' big shot misfires: The Bucs had one wide-open window to get back in the game, loading the bases with one out in the sixth on Travis Snider's pinch-hit single, Harrison getting hit by a pitch and Addison Russell's error on McCutchen's grounder to short. Then Arrieta quickly shut it down, inducing Starling Marte into an inning-ending double-play grounder. More >

"Pushed a couple times late, squared a couple balls up," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said, "and they turned them into double plays. Arrieta was ahead of almost every count through five. The ball-to-strike sequencing didn't give us a chance to get many offensive counts."

Video: NL WC: Arrieta induces huge double play to escape jam

QUOTABLE
"Unbelievable gutsy performance by the team. [The] 4-0 [score] is misleading. There was a lot of drama in that game, a lot of emotion, a lot of tension. Jake had to find a second gear after all that drama in the sixth inning. ... We're on a nice little run here in October. Congratulations to the Pirates on a great regular season. They [ought] to feel they should be going on, too. It's a great organization. We're thrilled to keep this magical season going." -- Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations

"There's a lot of positives to take from this. The disappointment in losing this game is obviously something that we feel right now. But walking away from this season, we poured our hearts and souls into it. We grinded through a lot of stuff. We put up when we needed to put up. There's nothing to hang your head over when you're talking about that kind of stuff, talking about a team battling through a season. Wouldn't want to compete with any other guys. It really is like a family in here. It's probably used a little too often, but there's a lot of hard work. We do have a lot to show for it. But tonight, it burns." -- Cole

"I'm really excited. I know our guys are about the opportunity to play in St. Louis and then bring it back to Wrigley. How about that? We get a chance to bring it back to Wrigley. That's pretty solid." -- Maddon

Video: NL WC: Maddon on Arrieta's performance, Wild Card win

"Sports is hard. Life's not fair. You go out and play. You get beat, you move on. I thanked the guys for the incredible ride they took the coaching staff, the support staff, everybody in that clubhouse on this year." -- Hurdle

Video: NL WC: Hurdle on Wild Card loss to Arrieta, Cubs

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Fowler is the first Cubs player in postseason history with a home run, a stolen base and at least three hits and three runs scored in a game. It was his first game with three hits and three runs scored since June 9, 2013, against the Padres when he was with the Rockies.

Arrieta is the first pitcher in postseason history to fire a shutout while striking out at least 10 batters and walking none. The previous high for strikeouts in a no-walk shutout was nine, set by Cole Hamels in Game 3 of the 2010 NLDS.

WHAT'S NEXT
Cubs: Chicago moves on to face St. Louis in the NLDS, with Game 1 at Busch Stadium on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET (TBS). Lester will be on the hill opposite Lackey. Game 2 is on Saturday in St. Louis (5:30 p.m. ET, TBS), with the series moving to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Monday (time TBD, TBS). Game 4, if necessary, would be on Tuesday in Chicago (time TBD, TBS), and Game 5, if necessary, would be at Busch Stadium on Oct. 15 (time TBD, TBS).

Pirates: The Bucs' season is complete. They open the 2016 season at home on April 4 against the Cardinals.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Benches clear after Pirates plunk Arrieta

MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- All the Cubs wanted was to keep Jake Arrieta in the game. Emotions ran high and tempers flared in the seventh inning Wednesday night after their ace was hit by a pitch from Pirates reliever Tony Watson.

In the Cubs' 4-0 win over the Bucs in the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, Watson's first pitch to Arrieta sailed inside and hit the Chicago pitcher near the hip. Arrieta exchanged words with Watson as he headed up the first-base line, and benches cleared shortly after home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson issued a warning.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- All the Cubs wanted was to keep Jake Arrieta in the game. Emotions ran high and tempers flared in the seventh inning Wednesday night after their ace was hit by a pitch from Pirates reliever Tony Watson.

In the Cubs' 4-0 win over the Bucs in the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, Watson's first pitch to Arrieta sailed inside and hit the Chicago pitcher near the hip. Arrieta exchanged words with Watson as he headed up the first-base line, and benches cleared shortly after home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson issued a warning.

View Full Game Coverage

"[Arrieta] was just talking to [Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli], and I was trying to keep Cervy in the game, then all of a sudden everybody was around us," Watson said.

:: NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates -- Coverage ::

A mob of players formed up the first-base line. After the relievers sprinted in from the bullpen, order was restored and Arrieta took his base. Arrieta, working on a shutout, had hit Cervelli in the fifth and plunked Josh Harrison in the sixth.

"Well, you've got a pitcher that's dotting everything up, throwing four pitches for strikes and Cervelli gets pitched hot up top," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "So I don't think anybody was a fan of that. Josh got hit with a breaking ball. That's probably just a pitch that got away."

Video: NL WC: Hit batters lead to benches clearing

"I hit two guys, unintentionally," Arrieta said. "I'm never trying to hit or hurt anybody. Balls were slick tonight. I just lost it a couple times. It kind of ran away from me. I expected that. They're going to take care of their own guys. It's understandable. Everything after that was fine."

• Shop for postseason gear: Cubs | Pirates

Pittsburgh utility man Sean Rodriguez was the only player ejected following the brief fracas on the field. After his part in the incident, Rodriguez repeatedly punched a drink cooler before retreating to the Pirates clubhouse.

Video: NL WC: Rodriguez, Watson on benches clearing in 7th

Rodriguez was upset at Cubs catcher David Ross, who apparently grabbed him around the neck.

"Ross grabbed me by my throat," Rodriguez said. "When you're trying to calm things down, that's not how you go about it. That's above and beyond what can happen on the field."

Video: NL WC: Rodriguez takes out his aggression on cooler

Said Ross: "[Rodriguez] swung at me. It's just one of those things, like, 'Whoa.' It got serious fast. It really shocked me. I understand, I didn't mean to put my hand around his throat."

This was the 20th meeting between the two teams this season and first ever in the postseason. There already were some bad feelings left over from the Sept. 17 game when Chicago's Chris Coghlan slid hard into shortstop Jung Ho Kang, who suffered a season-ending torn lateral meniscus in his left leg.

"We're not here to fight those guys," Ross said. "That's not what we came here to do. Unfortunately, it got a little ugly for a minute. We're happy for these guys. It's a good group.

"It's one of those things where we're out there protecting our guy, they're protecting their guys. [Arrieta] hit two guys on accident, in my opinion. It's a hostile environment and sometimes temper flares."

Video: NL WC: Arrieta on getting plunked, benches clearing

The concern for the Cubs was that Arrieta would get hurt or ejected. The right-hander stayed in and completed a four-hit shutout to help the Cubs advance to the NL Division Series.

"That's why we went out there -- and not to protect him, [because] he doesn't need protecting," Ross said. "Just get out there and calm things down. You don't want Jake's temper to go up and you'd hate for something to happen to Jake and get tossed out of the game. We settled things down before it got out of control."

Video: NL WC: Maddon discusses his respect for the Pirates

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said that was his only concern.

"When [umpire] John Hirschbeck came to talk to me, I was curious at what they'd seen," Maddon said. "I couldn't argue over anything. He told me that Rodriguez was kicked out for them and the warning was issued and let's get through this thing and I said, 'I'm with you, man, 100 percent.' I was really surprised at what happened."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Jake Arrieta, Sean Rodriguez, Tony Watson

25-man rosters for postseason clubs

MLB.com

Below are the projected 25-man rosters for each postseason team's next round. Teams can adjust their roster for each round, and we will update these as they become official.

NLDS: ATL-LAD

Below are the projected 25-man rosters for each postseason team's next round. Teams can adjust their roster for each round, and we will update these as they become official.

NLDS: ATL-LAD

BRAVES ROSTER (OFFICIAL)
Game 2 starting lineup
1. Ronald Acuna Jr., LF
2. Johan Camargo, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Kurt Suzuki, C
6. Ozzie Albies, 2B
7. Ender Inciarte, CF
8. Charlie Culberson, SS

Bench
Tyler Flowers, C
Lucas Duda, 1B
Lane Adams, OF
Ryan Flaherty, INF
Rene Rivera, C

Starting pitchers
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
Anibal Sanchez, RHP
Kevin Gausman, RHP
Julio Teheran, RHP

Bullpen
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP/CL
A.J. Minter, LHP
• Chad Sobotka, RHP
Jonny Venters, LHP
Sean Newcomb, LHP
Max Fried, LHP
Touki Toussaint, RHP
Brad Brach, RHP

Notes: Dansby Swanson (torn ligament in his left hand) isn't yet ready to return, but he's said he's hopeful he'll be able to play if the Braves make it past the NLDS. Fried and Toussaint provide two long relief options, but Fried may be used as a matchup/middle reliever. The Braves have elected to carry both Teheran and Newcomb on the roster. Teheran appears to be the likelier candidate to be the fourth starter, especially considering the Dodgers' late-season improvement against left-handed pitching. Newcomb could work out of the bullpen. Atlanta carrying a third catcher allows Flowers or Suzuki to be a right-handed pinch-hitting option.

DODGERS ROSTER (OFFICIAL)
Game 2 starting lineup
1. Joc Pederson, LF
2. Justin Turner, 3B
3. Max Muncy, 1B
4. Manny Machado, SS
5. Yasiel Puig, RF
6. Cody Bellinger, CF
7. Enrique Hernandez, 2B
8. Yasmani Grandal, C

Bench
Chris Taylor, UTIL
David Freese, IF
Austin Barnes, C/IF
Matt Kemp, OF
Brian Dozier, IF

Starting pitchers
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP
Clayton Kershaw, LHP
Walker Buehler, RHP
Rich Hill, LHP

Bullpen
Kenley Jansen, RHP/CL
Kenta Maeda, RHP
Scott Alexander, LHP
Alex Wood, LHP
Pedro Baez, RHP
• Caleb Ferguson, LHP
Ryan Madson, RHP
Dylan Floro, RHP

Notes: The Dodgers will open the NLDS with a pair of left-handers against the Braves, as Ryu will start Game 1 on Thursday at Dodger Stadium, and Kershaw will start Game 2. With the luxury of a 40-man roster in September, the platoon lineup for the Dodgers against a left-handed starter has included Freese at first base, Taylor in left field, Kemp in right field and Dozier at second base. Among those on the bubble are Chase Utley, who will retire after the season.

NLDS: COL-MIL

ROCKIES ROSTER (OFFICIAL)
Game 2 starting lineup
1. Charlie Blackmon, CF
2. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B
4. Carlos Gonzalez, RF
5. Trevor Story, SS
6. Gerardo Parra, LF
7. Ian Desmond, 1B
8. Chris Iannetta, C

Bench
Matt Holliday, LF
• Garrett Hampson, INF
Ryan McMahon, INF
• Tony Wolters, C
David Dahl, OF

Starting Pitchers
• Antonio Senzatela, RHP
• Tyler Anderson, LHP
• German Marquez, RHP
• Kyle Freeland, LHP

Bullpen
Wade Davis, RHP/CL
Adam Ottavino, RHP
Scott Oberg, RHP
Seunghwan Oh, RHP
Chris Rusin, LHP
Harrison Musgrave, LHP
Chad Bettis, RHP
• DJ Johnson, RHP

Notes: Senzatela will likely start Game 1 against the Brewers at Miller Park on Thursday, being ready to go on regular rest. The right-hander has only faced the Brewers once in his career, going five scoreless innings in a 2-1 Rockies victory on April 6, 2017. Over his final three starts of the regular season, Senzatela posted a 1.62 ERA over 16 2/3 innings. As far as the roster goes, the Rockies will not carry three catchers in the NLDS, with Drew Butera left off the roster. Instead, they'll take an extra reliever in the 29-year-old rookie Johnson, who's made just seven big league appearances, all since September. That also means Jon Gray was left off the roster.

BREWERS ROSTER (OFFICIAL)
Game 2 starting lineup
1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Christian Yelich, RF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Jesus Aguilar, 1B
5. Mike Moustakas, 3B
6. Hernan Perez, SS
7. Travis Shaw, 2B
8. Erik Kratz, C

Bench
Curtis Granderson, OF
Jonathan Schoop, IF
Orlando Arcia, IF
Manny Pina, C
Keon Broxton, OF
Domingo Santana, OF

Starting pitchers
Wade Miley, LHP
Gio Gonzalez, LHP
Jhoulys Chacin, RHP

Bullpen
Jeremy Jeffress, RHP/CL
Josh Hader, LHP
Corey Knebel, RHP
Joakim Soria, RHP
• Corbin Burnes, RHP
Brandon Woodruff, RHP
Junior Guerra, RHP
Freddy Peralta, RHP

Notes: The Brewers' rotation is different than most top-seeded teams, since it doesn't feature an ace. So they could opt to carry three starters and use a multi-inning arm that pitched out of the bullpen down the stretch, like Woodruff or Freddy Peralta or Junior Guerra, in a game. All of those players were starting pitchers for the bulk of this season. There's also Chase Anderson, who was the Opening Day starter, but he was removed from the rotation with one week to go.

Postseason schedule

ALDS: CLE-HOU

INDIANS ROSTER (OFFICIAL)
Game 2 starting lineup
1. Francisco Lindor, SS
2. Michael Brantley, LF
3. Jose Ramirez, 2B
4. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
5. Josh Donaldson, 3B
6. Yonder Alonso, 1B
7. Melky Cabrera, RF
8. Yan Gomes, C
9. Jason Kipnis, CF

Bench
Roberto Perez, C
Rajai Davis, OF
Greg Allen, OF
Yandy Diaz, UTIL
Brandon Guyer, OF

Starting pitchers
Corey Kluber, RHP
Carlos Carrasco, RHP
Mike Clevinger, RHP

Bullpen
Andrew Miller, LHP
Cody Allen, RHP
Brad Hand, LHP
Oliver Perez, LHP
Trevor Bauer, RHP
• Shane Bieber, RHP
Adam Cimber, RHP
Dan Otero, RHP

Notes: Bauer and Bieber will be available out of the bullpen in the early games. If the series reaches Game 4, one of the right-handers will start, depending on their usage in Games 1-3. Guyer (right shoulder) and Gomes (laceration on right thumb) have both been cleared for the ALDS. The last bench job went to Davis for his speed over utility man Erik Gonzalez. 

ASTROS ROSTER (OFFICIAL)
Game 2 starting lineup
1. George Springer, CF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Alex Bregman, 3B
4. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
5. Marwin Gonzalez, LF
6. Carlos Correa, SS
7. Tyler White, DH
8. Josh Reddick, RF
9. Martin Maldonado, C

Bench
Evan Gattis, DH
Brian McCann, C
Tony Kemp, OF
Jake Marisnick, OF
• Myles Straw, OF

Starting pitchers
Justin Verlander, RHP
Gerrit Cole, RHP
Dallas Keuchel, LHP
Charlie Morton, RHP

Bullpen
Roberto Osuna, RHP/CL
Ryan Pressly, RHP
Lance McCullers Jr., RHP
Collin McHugh, RHP
Will Harris, RHP
• Josh James, RHP
Tony Sipp, LHP

Notes: The Astros decided to carry the speedy outfielder Straw as a pinch-runner instead of Max Stassi as a third catcher. There were some tough bullpen decisions, too, with former All-Star Chris Devenski squeezed out. The hard-throwing rookie James provides length and a 100-mph fastball that makes him enticing.

ALDS: NYY-BOS

YANKEES ROSTER (OFFICIAL)
Game 1 starting lineup
1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Aaron Hicks, CF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5. Luke Voit, 1B
6. Didi Gregorius, SS
7. Miguel Andujar, 3B
8. Gary Sanchez, C
9. Gleyber Torres, 2B

Bench
Austin Romine, C
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
Neil Walker, IF
Brett Gardner, OF

Starting Pitchers
Luis Severino, RHP
Masahiro Tanaka, RHP
J.A. Happ, LHP
CC Sabathia, LHP

Bullpen
Lance Lynn, RHP
Aroldis Chapman, LHP/CL
Dellin Betances, RHP
Zach Britton, LHP
David Robertson, RHP
Chad Green, RHP
Stephen Tarpley, LHP
Jonathan Holder, RHP

Notes: Sabathia wasn't on the Yankees' Wild Card Game roster, but he's been added for the ALDS against Boston. The same goes for Tarpley in the bullpen, who gives the Yankees an additional left-handed relief option. Not on the ALDS roster: Tyler Wade (a pinch-running/defensive option) and Kyle Higashioka (third catcher), who were both carried for the Wild Card Game. Instead, the Yankees have opted for an extra pitcher, so Holder keep his spot. Greg Bird is again an odd man out, as he was for the Wild Card Game.

RED SOX ROSTER (OFFICIAL)
Game 1 starting lineup
1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. Steve Pearce, 1B
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
6. Eduardo Nunez, 3B
7. Ian Kinsler, 2B
8. Sandy Leon, C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Bench
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Rafael Devers, 3B
Brock Holt, INF-OF
Blake Swihart, C-UTILITY
Christian Vazquez, C

Starting pitchers
Chris Sale, LHP
David Price, LHP
Rick Porcello, RHP
Nathan Eovaldi, RHP

Bullpen
Craig Kimbrel, RHP/CL
Matt Barnes, RHP
Ryan Brasier, RHP
Heath Hembree, RHP
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
Brandon Workman, RHP
Joe Kelly, RHP

Notes: The Red Sox made a roster substitution Saturday afternoon, swapping Hembree in for right-hander Steven Wright, who was diagnosed with inflammation and loose body in his left knee. Wright is now ineligible for the remainder of the ALDS and the ALCS, should Boston advance. Manager Alex Cora could mix Pearce in at first base against lefties, and Nunez and Holt could see some time at third in place of the inconsistent Devers. Kelly and Workman got the last two bullpen spots, with Bobby Poyner not making the roster.

Epstein says Maddon will return to Cubs in '19

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Wednesday that Joe Maddon's job status hasn't changed and called a report that there was friction between the two "not accurate."

"Joe's status remains unchanged," Epstein said during an end-of-the-season wrapup with the media at Wrigley Field. "He's the manager of this team. I'm very happy about that."

CHICAGO -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Wednesday that Joe Maddon's job status hasn't changed and called a report that there was friction between the two "not accurate."

"Joe's status remains unchanged," Epstein said during an end-of-the-season wrapup with the media at Wrigley Field. "He's the manager of this team. I'm very happy about that."

A report Wednesday by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal said "talk has persisted within the industry" for months now that Maddon and Epstein "are not always on the same page." Rosenthal noted successful clubs have replaced managers -- like the Yankees, who replaced Joe Girardi after making it to Game 7 of last year's ALCS -- in favor of younger candidates.

:: NL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::

"I didn't read the whole thing, but I saw in there that there were some claims that [Maddon] and I had some personal friction -- not true at all," Epstein said on Wednesday. "We have a terrific working relationship. We don't agree all the time about baseball issues and that's the way it should be. I don't want a 'yes man' as the manager and I don't want a 'yes man' relationship the other way, either.

"I think there should be discord and debate and healthy, trusting relationships where you can work together to make the organization better, and that's the way it is," Epstein said.

The Cubs have reached 90 wins for four consecutive seasons under Maddon and won the World Series in 2016, ending a 108-year championship drought.

"I enjoy having Joe around personally and I like having him as the manager of this club, and I really like having the most wins in baseball the last four years," Epstein said. "I don't like going home the first day of October. That's not on Joe. That's not. I look forward to him coming back next year with some unfinished business, as we all have in this organization."

Maddon has one year remaining on his contract and Epstein said there's been no discussion regarding an extension.

"We just finished playing, so I have not turned to that yet," Epstein said. "I certainly haven't talked to Joe about it yet. I think we have to think about that part of it internally first and then talk about it with Joe."

The Cubs players backed Maddon after Tuesday's 2-1, 13-inning loss in the National League Wild Card Game to the Rockies. Asked to describe the Cubs' season in one word, Maddon chose "gritty."

"You're not going to hear me make excuses -- and this is not an excuse -- but we have had a lot of things go awry this year and in spite of that, have still tied for the most wins in the National League in a 162-game season," Maddon said. "That speaks to the quality of the player in the room. Even though maybe the numbers offensively didn't match up, these guys put up 95 wins. That speaks to the heart of the player, that speaks to the attitude of the group.

"We lost some tough games in the postseason, in this postseason right now, or getting to the postseason, but I think 'grit' is a wonderful word that describes this group, and I've also talked about the heart," Maddon said. "A couple years ago, when we won the World Series, I said, 'Don't forget the heartbeat.' I think the heartbeat within this group is very prominent and as a manager, that's probably the thing I'm most proud of."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs

Cubs' season ends after Wild, dramatic night

Following Lester's gem, club ties it in thrilling 8th only to fall in 13th
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- For the second straight night, the Cubs could only watch as another team sprayed champagne and celebrated at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs never had a chance to party. So, after losing, 2-1, to the Rockies in 13 innings in the National League Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, the Cubs gathered in their clubhouse, hugged and toasted each other. There weren't many dry eyes.

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CHICAGO -- For the second straight night, the Cubs could only watch as another team sprayed champagne and celebrated at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs never had a chance to party. So, after losing, 2-1, to the Rockies in 13 innings in the National League Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, the Cubs gathered in their clubhouse, hugged and toasted each other. There weren't many dry eyes.

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:: NL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::

"It was a great year," Kyle Schwarber said. "I want people to know that this team was special and we grinded our butts off, and that people maybe outside might think it's a disappointing year. If you look in this room, and you were in here every day, you'd have a lot of appreciation for what these guys went through day in and day out."

But the Cubs' season is over. Playing their third game in as many days in their third different time zone, the Rockies edged the Cubs in a drama-filled game -- which was the longest elimination game in history in terms of innings and time of game (four hours and 55 minutes). Next stop for the Rockies is Miller Park, just 90 miles north, where they'll face the Brewers in the NL Division Series, starting Thursday.

Video: NL WC: Contreras, Baez, Strop pump up teammates

Wild night: Weird plays abound in Rox-Cubs

"It's a very weird feeling, completely unexpected," Kyle Hendricks said. "That's why guys are hanging around. They don't know what to do. We definitely weren't ready to be done this early. We can remember this feeling, use it as fuel next year. It'll take some time to process this. We were planning on playing baseball."

With two outs in the 13th -- yes, the 13th -- Trevor Story singled off Hendricks and reached third on Gerardo Parra's single before scoring on Tony Wolters' single. Wolters, by the way, was the third catcher the Rockies used in the game.

Video: NL WC: Wolters gives Rox lead with single in the 13th

The Cubs got a burst of speed from Terrance Gore, a miraculous recovery by Pedro Strop and a hug by Javier Baez to stay close, but it wasn't enough.

After 48 come-from-behind wins in the regular season, the lively crowd of 40,151 expected one more. It didn't happen.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon pulled starter Jon Lester after six impressive innings and called on nearly all of the pitchers on the roster, including starters Cole Hamels and Hendricks. Maddon said he didn't want to take Lester out, but it was what he called a "National League moment," lifting the pitcher for a pinch-hitter.

Lester pads postseason resume with 9-K gem

Video: NL WC: Hamels tosses 2 scoreless innings in relief

"I don't see where he's going to get heat," Rizzo said. "I think he's managed his ass off this year with what we've been dealt, as far as losing Yu [Darvish], as far as losing [Brandon] Morrow, [Strop] going down. We lost so many guys, and we still figured out a way to win. That's all a credit to him.

"I think Joe's best year was this year as far as managing all the moving parts."

Video: NL WC: Cubs on extra-inning loss to Rox in WC Game

Said Baez: "They didn't say that when he made a good move and he wins the game. They didn't say that in '16 when we won [the World Series]. We love our manager."

The Cubs, denied a chance to three-peat as NL Central champs by the Brewers on Monday in Game 163, have to wonder what the heck happened to their offense. In the first half of the season, the Cubs led the NL with 476 runs; but they totaled 285 after the All-Star break, which ranked eighth in the league.

"We'd love to go out there and hit better with runners in scoring position, square the ball up more, and we just didn't do that," Kris Bryant said. "It's frustrating."

Video: NL WC: Bryant on Cubs' offensive struggles, improving

"Tonight was Kyle Freeland's fault," Daniel Murphy said about the offense's struggles. "He threw really well. Runs weren't exactly easy for them to come by either."

Freeland, who was working on short rest for the first time since college, got a nice assist from Story, who snared Murphy's line drive for the second out of the seventh when the Cubs had a runner at first.

Video: Must C Catch: Story robs Murphy with phenomenal catch

The Cubs did load the bases in the seventh, taking advantage of a catcher's interference call against Drew Butera, but Adam Ottavino struck out pinch-hitter Jason Heyward to end the inning.

5 key moments from a high-drama seventh

In the eighth, the Cubs called on their secret weapon, speedster Gore. With two outs, Rizzo singled and was lifted for Gore, who quickly stole second base. Baez then lined a double to center to drive in Gore and tie the game at 1.

Gore, Baez spark Cubs' 2-out rally in 8th

Video: NL WC: Gore displays elite speed in NL Wild Card Game

"I felt like we wouldn't lose that game after Javy got the base hit," Lester said. "For whatever reason, we did. Maybe in the long run, this will be good for us. You can only learn from losing. I feel this will be good for us moving forward. Unfortunately, we're on the wrong end of it tonight."

Rizzo lifted for a pinch-runner? He joined the crowd as a spectator and was leading the dugout as they clapped to the music.

Video: NL WC: Rizzo on Wild Card loss, comparisons to 2016

"At that point, you go put your cheerleading pom poms on and cheer the boys on," Rizzo said. "The motto this year was 'Everybody In,' and we exemplified that throughout the year."

Strop, pitching for the first time since Sept. 13 after missing time with a strained left hamstring, struck out Ian Desmond to end the Rockies' ninth and strand a runner at second. The Rockies went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Video: NL WC: Strop strikes out Desmond to end top of 9th

This was the Cubs' second Wild Card Game since Maddon took over in 2015, but that year, Jake Arrieta threw a shutout against the Pirates. That game proved to be a seminal point for the Cubs.

"We've really flipped this culture here with the Chicago Cubs organization," Rizzo said. "We fell short this year. We didn't go on a run at all this year. It's been a roller coaster for this team, it's been a roller coaster for the fans and the city of Chicago."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Home-field advantage: Lester walked Charlie Blackmon to start the game, and he reached third on DJ LeMahieu's double that bounced into the ivy covering the left-field wall.

Video: NL WC: LeMahieu smacks 112.8-mph double into the ivy

Blackmon scored on Nolan Arenado's sacrifice fly. Lester escaped any further damage by striking out both Story and Matt Holliday, both on curves.

Video: NL WC: Lester K's Holliday to limit damage in the 1st

Missed opportunity: Ian Happ, batting for Lester, drew a walk to lead off the sixth and advanced on Bryant's single, which right fielder David Dahl misjudged.

The Cubs couldn't take advantage, though, as Freeland got Rizzo to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Rizzo was one of two lefties in the lineup against Freeland, who held left-handed hitters to a .185 average this season.

Video: NL WC: Freeland induces clutch DP after popup single

Curious hug: The Cubs had a chance in the 11th. Baez walked to lead off against Seunghwan Oh, and advanced on Albert Almora Jr.s sacrifice. Butera ran to third to thwart Baez from trying to advance. Murphy was then intentionally walked to set up Willson Contreras, who stopped play because of an apparent leg injury, then he reached on a fielder's choice, forcing Baez.

Video: NL WC: Arenado and Baez embrace after out at third

Third baseman Arenado and Baez hugged as they collided on the basepaths -- which Rockies manager Bud Black didn't seem to like. Chris Rusin took over and got Victor Caratini to ground out.

SOUND SMART
This was Lester's 12th career postseason start in which he gave up one run or fewer, and he's now tied with Andy Pettitte for second most all-time. Only Tom Glavine (14) has had more.

Video: NL WC: Lester fans 9 in 1-run outing vs. the Rockies

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Bryant made 10 starts in left field during the regular season and had no assists, but he came up big in the Rockies' seventh. Desmond singled to lead off against Jesse Chavez, and Dahl flied out to left. Desmond tried to advance, but Bryant threw him out at second.

Video: NL WC: Bryant nabs Desmond for DP, call confirmed

HE SAID IT
"This is four years in a row in the playoffs, this is something we really believe we can sustain. We just got a little bit challenged offensively at the end of the year, obviously that hurt us. But as a group, and talented, and the way they interact, I could not ask for more." -- Maddon

Video: NL WC: Maddon praises team after tough Wild Card loss

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Well, the ball hit someone. Unfortunately, for home-plate umpire Chris Guccione, it wasn't Gore, who led off the 13th inning.

A Scott Oberg inside pitch eluded catcher Butera and hit Guccione flush on his left arm. Gore, however, took first base as if the ball had grazed him. The umpires ruled otherwise. The Cubs challenged, but the original call of no hit-by-pitch was confirmed. Gore was sent back to the batter's box -- where he struck out swinging.

Video: NL WC: Gore not hit by pitch after review in the 13th

Ben Zobrist singled to lead off the Cubs' first, and two outs later the Rockies thought they had picked him off at first on a throw from Freeland. The Cubs challenged the ruling, and after a review, the call was overturned.

Video: NL WC: Zobrist safe at first after overturned call

The Rockies had a runner at first and one out in the eighth when Steve Cishek got LeMahieu to hit a grounder to Murphy, who started a 4-6-3 double play. The Rockies challenged the call at second, and after a review, the call stood.

Video: NL WC: Murphy turns clutch inning-ending DP on review

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez, Terrance Gore, Jon Lester

Rox escape trouble after interference call

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Rockies acquired catcher Drew Butera just in time to add him to the postseason roster for times like Tuesday's seventh inning of Colorado's eventual 2-1, 13-inning victory over the Cubs in the National League Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field.

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CHICAGO -- The Rockies acquired catcher Drew Butera just in time to add him to the postseason roster for times like Tuesday's seventh inning of Colorado's eventual 2-1, 13-inning victory over the Cubs in the National League Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field.

:: NL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::

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It wasn't the smoothest of innings, but Butera stayed cool and made it through.

With one on and two out and a 1-0 Rockies lead, Adam Ottavino sailed a pitch to the backstop to put a runner in scoring position. Ottavino admitted, "I just had so much adrenaline -- that's why I was yanking all those pitches at the beginning. ... I felt too strong, too hopped up."

Butera, 35, has played in 497 regular-season games, was a member of the 2015 World Series champion Royals and has handled important defensive innings since coming in an Aug. 31 trade with the Royals for lefty reliever Jerry Vasto. So he knew to calm Ottavino.

"I just decided to take things as slow as possible," Butera said. "I knew he would gather himself. I tried not to rush it, take my time in between signs and let him find his rhythm."

After Ottavino walked Willson Contreras, Butera's glove tapped the bat during a swing by pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella. So instead of making an inning-ending out, La Stella was awarded first base on catcher's interference.

Butera isn't the first catcher to experience such a fate. La Stella reached on a catcher's interference call last postseason, against the Nationals. He joins Josh Reddick and Jacoby Ellsbury as the only two players with two such calls in their postseason careers.

It was another chance for Butera to offer calm.

"The slider came back over the plate," he said. "I wanted to go get it. It was kind of down and I wanted to try to reach it and bring it back up. Unfortunately, my glove kind of ran into his bat path. Fortunately for us we were able to get out of the inning.

"I think he knew what he had to do. I told him, 'My bad,' and he picked me up."

Ottavino bailed himself, his team and Butera out in a powerful way -- by striking out Jason Heyward to end the frame. The 97 mph pitch was his hardest of 530 fastballs all season, and the only strike he managed on a fastball in the frame.

Tweet from @MLB: ESCAPE ARTIST. #WildCard pic.twitter.com/l3iPyzMOp7

"I didn't even really try to throw it hard," Ottavino said. "I was just trying to make the pitch and then I saw that it was pretty fast."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Drew Butera, Adam Ottavino

Gore lights fuse, but fireworks never come

Speedster steals second, scores on Baez's double in eighth
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Terrance Gore is fast. And he showed just how quick in the eighth inning of the Cubs' 2-1 loss in 13 innings to the Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

But Gore's speed wasn't enough to get the rest of the Cubs' offense going.

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CHICAGO -- Terrance Gore is fast. And he showed just how quick in the eighth inning of the Cubs' 2-1 loss in 13 innings to the Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

But Gore's speed wasn't enough to get the rest of the Cubs' offense going.

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With the Cubs trailing, 1-0, with two outs in the eighth against the Rockies, Anthony Rizzo singled and was lifted for pinch-runner Gore, who was added to the Cubs' NL Wild Card Game roster because of his speed.

Video: NL WC: Baez drills a game-tying double in the 8th

:: NL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::

Gore stole second on Adam Ottavino's first pitch to Javier Baez without a throw and then raced home on Baez's double to left-center to tie the game.

"I felt like we wouldn't lose that game after Javy got the base hit," Cubs starter Jon Lester said. "For whatever reason, we did."

Gore was successful on all six of his stolen-base attempts with the Cubs during the regular season.

"You come out of the game there, Terrance Gore steals a base and scores and you can't really question it," Rizzo said. "Obviously, I don't ever want to come out of a baseball game. At that point, you go put your cheerleading pom-poms on and cheer the boys on. The motto this year was 'Everybody In,' and we exemplified that throughout the year."

The Cubs stranded 10 in the game and went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

"We had some opportunities, we just could not cash in," manager Joe Maddon said. "We caught the ball, we pitched really, really well. Like I said, the esprit de corps, I can't ask for more. So it was just something we really have to focus on in the offseason."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez, Terrance Gore

Lester pads postseason resume with 9-K gem

Maddon lifts lefty for pinch-hitter earlier than he would have liked
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Cubs lefty Jon Lester was the perfect choice to start against the Rockies in Tuesday night's National League Wild Card Game. The trouble is, he didn't get any offensive support as the North Siders' season ended with a 2-1 loss in 13 innings at Wrigley Field.

Because of that lack of offense, the lefty's gem was cut short. With the Cubs trailing, 1-0, and in dire need of an offensive boost, Lester was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning having thrown only 86 pitches.

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CHICAGO -- Cubs lefty Jon Lester was the perfect choice to start against the Rockies in Tuesday night's National League Wild Card Game. The trouble is, he didn't get any offensive support as the North Siders' season ended with a 2-1 loss in 13 innings at Wrigley Field.

Because of that lack of offense, the lefty's gem was cut short. With the Cubs trailing, 1-0, and in dire need of an offensive boost, Lester was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning having thrown only 86 pitches.

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"It's obviously disappointing," Lester said. "I feel we should've won that game. That's the unfortunate part about this Wild Card Game, but at the same time, that's what makes this Wild Card Game so unique."

:: NL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::

Lester gave up a run in the first inning on Nolan Arenado's sacrifice fly, the first out of the game, but that was it as he struck out nine over six innings.

The 34-year-old roared after he fanned Matt Holliday for his final strikeout of the night. The nine strikeouts tied his season high (Sept. 15) and also matched a postseason career high (Game 1 against the Cardinals in the 2015 NL Division Series).

"I didn't want to take Jon out," manager Joe Maddon said. "Jon was good to go. He was definitely good to go and [pinch-hitter Ian] Happ starts out the inning and we put ourselves in a position possibly to score, and it went away. But Jonny had a lot left in the tank, a lot."

Video: NL WC: Maddon on pitching performances after loss

With the win-or-go-home element of the NL Wild Card Game, Maddon had starters Cole Hamels and Kyle Hendricks in the bullpen and called on both to pitch in relief.

"There's a lot of platitudes to be spread around. There's a lot of good stuff," Maddon said. "We just did not hit like we think we're capable of, otherwise some pretty good baseball."

Video: NL WC: Lester credits Rockies after Wild Card loss

Lester now has 133 career postseason strikeouts, eighth-most in Major League history.

"I feel we played really good baseball tonight," Lester said. "The pitchers threw the hell out of the ball, defense played great. Sometimes you just get beat. Unfortunately, we got beat tonight."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Jon Lester

Baez says Cubs need to ignore trash talk

Infielder weighs in prior to NL Wild Card showdown vs. Rox
MLB.com

During a news conference ahead of the Cubs' 2-1 loss in 13 innings to the Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night, Cubs infielder Javier Baez said his club has "got to stop worrying about other teams," and "go out there and compete."

Baez went on to say, "If we do that, there's no team that can beat us, and they know that. So that's why they run their mouth a lot, because they know we're the best. Even when we're struggling, we are the head of everybody."

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During a news conference ahead of the Cubs' 2-1 loss in 13 innings to the Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night, Cubs infielder Javier Baez said his club has "got to stop worrying about other teams," and "go out there and compete."

Baez went on to say, "If we do that, there's no team that can beat us, and they know that. So that's why they run their mouth a lot, because they know we're the best. Even when we're struggling, we are the head of everybody."

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:: NL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::

That statement was in response to a question about the up-and-down nature of the Cubs' offense this season, and in a follow-up question, Baez was asked who he was referring to when he said, "They run their mouth a lot."

"It doesn't matter, like, everybody," Baez said. "Everybody, fans. Who cares? I don't pay attention to it, but it's around us, and if we pay attention, we get in their trap."

Though it's unclear whether Baez was referring to Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers outfielder made an emphatic statement following Los Angeles' victory over the Rockies in Monday's NL West tiebreaker, guaranteeing the Dodgers would win the 2018 World Series.

"Hey, Atlanta, I'll see you soon, baby," Puig said in a postgame interview with SportsNet LA. "And the next one -- Chicago, Colorado, no matter who's going -- we're going to beat it. And we're going to the World Series again. And this time, we're going to win the World Series. In 2018, the big party is here in Los Angeles."

In 2016, the Cubs defeated the Dodgers in six games to win the NL pennant before winning their first World Series championship in 108 years. Last year, the Dodgers defeated the Cubs in a five-game NL Championship Series before losing to the Astros in a seven-game World Series.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez

Competitive fire burns in soft-spoken LeMahieu

GM on 2B: 'Don't mistake quiet or shyness for weakness. ... It's just the opposite.'
MLB.com