The Chicago Cubs 2013 season ended in a fashion that has become near-habit for this team – with a loss.
The N.L. Central division rival St. Louis Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Cubs in front of a packed house at Busch Stadium in St. Louis with a 4-0 win on Sunday afternoon. Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly was the epitome of pure dominance after taking over in the second inning and was a major factor in today’s outcome.
Kelly lasted into the seventh inning when he was pulled with runners on the corners and one out. His final line for the day included 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball – yet another promising sign for the young Cardinals hurler moving forward.
With runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, left-hander Randy Choate induced a double play ball to end the inning, putting an end to the Cubs’ rally hopes.
His counterpart, Jeff Samardzija, turned in a solid start to close out the season, but came up short of a ‘W’, as has been the case so many times this season for the former Notre Dame football standout.
In six innings, the right-hander allowed three runs on eight hits, while striking out four. Samardzija (8-13) finishes the season with an earned run average of 4.34 in 213 2/3 innings of work, in which he struck out 214 batters. This was the highest number of strikeouts by a Cubs pitcher since Kerry Wood and Mark Prior topped that number a decade ago in 2003.
An RBI single by Jon Jay in the third opened the scoring in the ballgame and St. Louis added two more runs in the fourth inning against Samardzija and a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the eighth against Pedro Strop pushed it to 4-0 Cardinals.
Nate Schierholtz added two doubles to lead the Cubs offense, putting the finishing touches on a very solid campaign. He clubbed 21 home runs and 68 RBIs this season and has emerged as one of the lone bright spots in the Cubs offense.
Chicago finishes the season at 66-96, at fifth place in the National League Central and St. Louis ends the regular season at 97-65. The Cardinals will begin the National League Division series on Thursday, October 3 against either the Pittsburgh Pirates or Cincinnati Reds, who face each other in the National League Wild Card game on Tuesday evening.