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Cubs must play wild-card game on road
MILWAUKEE — The Chicago Cubs did their part, sweeping a three-game series from the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend at Miller Park. But it wasn’t enough to keep them from opening the postseason on the road.
The Pittsburgh Pirates began the day with a one-game lead over Chicago in the National League wild-card race and after knocking off the Reds 4-0 the Pirates earned home field advantage for the NL wild-card playoff game, set for Wednesday night.
“We’d love to do this in front of our fans,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo, whose first-inning, two-run single proved the difference Sunday. “But now we just have to get back there somehow. We play well at PNC. I personally like playing there. We just have to go out and play. They are going to be loud there, but we’ll be ready.”
Chicago won the season series with Pittsburgh, taking 11 of the 19 meetings.
“Look at our record,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I think one game separates our home and road record this year. I mean it sincerely. It doesn’t matter except for your fans. You’d like to play in front of your fans. That would be the separator for me.”
The Cubs are feeling confident with right-hander Jake Arrieta slated to start. He pitched himself into consideration for the NL Cy Young Award with an incredible season, going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA.
He was flat-out dominant, though, in the second half, gong 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA and allowed just four earned runs over his final 12 starts, posting an 11-0 record during that stretch.
Even with Arrieta on the mound, the Cubs’ offense will have their work cut out for them against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole, who went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA during the regular season and 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts against Chicago.
“He’s a competitor,” said Rizzo, who is 6-for-17 with a double and three strikeouts in 17 career games against Cole. “He throws hard. He has good stuff. We have to go up there like it is any other right-hander and stay within yourself and not try to do too much.”