Cubs win on Montero homer, then celebrate division title


After Munenori Kawasaki walked, Ross - pinch-hitting for starter John Lackey - grounded into a double play to end the inning.

"It would have been wonderful to do so for the fans (Thursday), but that's part of the uncontrollable nature of our game", manager Joe Maddon said. "He did everything well and right and just that one cutter to (Orlando) Arcia".

The Cubs came in every day expecting the unexpected, with the only real pressure trying to find pajamas, track suits or Miami Vice outfits on their road trips. Good stuff, outstanding curveball, like a really premium curveball. "Good stuff, outstanding curve ball - a really premium curve ball - velocity was good and a sink on the fastball gives us ground balls". According to the early numbers at Brooks Baseball, he induced a remarkable 19 swing and misses on the evening, seven on his changeup and eight on his curve. He struck out swinging as a pinch hitter in the ninth. For context, the league average this season is 10.1 percent and the league leader is Max Scherzer at 15.2 percent. Addison Russell hit an infield single to tie the game at 4 apiece. The Cubs poured out of the dugout to mob Montero at home plate, and then pulled on postseason hats and shirts as the crowd of 40,823 cheered wildly.

The Giants, aside from their six games against the Dodgers, have four games at San Diego and three at home against Colorado.

The Cubs have also been getting nice contributions on offense through the likes of Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, and rookie catcher Willson Contreras: three of their young-but talented core players.

"We're just beginning. We're at base camp".

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Epstein, Hoyer and several other members of Chicago's front office watched most of the game from the famed bleachers, and Epstein wore a comically fake mustache for the occasion. The Cubs clinched the National League Central with Friday's win that featured some late inning offense to steal the win.

But those fans got what they wanted a little later in the evening when the Giants beat the Cardinals 6-2 in San Francisco, mathematically eliminating St. Louis and giving the Cubs a division crown. The Cubs are sitting at the highest point of the mountain.

This year's Cubs team certainty has the potential to make a deep run into October given all their talent.

Maddon conceded that the Cubs actually had a party checklist before Thursday's game even started, failing to specify just how many weeks, or months ago, the party was planned. 25-year old RHP Rafael Montero had a couple starts where he pitched well enough for his team to win, but then had an absolute blow up in his last start against the Nationals and is apparently now out of the rotation.

Barring a first round playoff exit like the Cubs had in 2008, this team will have once again accomplished a lot to be proud of. The way he was talking though, mentioning names like Andrew Miller and Jeremy Affeldt, suggested Montgomery's future was in the bullpen.

But the Cubs couldn't catch up after Milwaukee scored 2 in the top of the 7th.