Cubs celebrate series win over 'standard bearer'
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Beating the best team in Major League Baseball was icing on the cake for Chicago manager Joe Maddon after his Cubs had eliminated the top-seeded St. Louis Cardinals from the playoffs on Tuesday.
Benefiting from a potent offense and then relying on their bullpen to blunt any chance of a Cardinals fightback, the Cubs won Game Four 6-4 at a raucous Wrigley Field to clinch their best-of-five National League Division Series 3-1.
"They're the standard bearer so for us to be able to beat them tonight really is important to us as a franchise," Maddon told reporters after the Cubs reached the NL Championship Series for the first time since 2003.
"It's kind of special to be able to beat a team of that magnitude. They just compete constantly, so to come out on top you feel a bit fortunate but I want to congratulate them on a 100-win season. They were fabulous."
The (100-62) Cardinals had the best record during the regular season but were ultimately undone in the playoffs by mounting injuries and a Chicago team that mixed a plethora of home runs with surprising depth in their bullpen.
In winning the last two games of the series in front of jubilant home fans at Wrigley Field, the Cubs blasted a total of nine homers while they used seven relievers on Tuesday to keep the Cardinals pegged back.
"It's not like Jason (Hammel) was throwing the ball poorly," said Maddon, who replaced his starting pitcher in the fourth inning.
"I just didn't overall like the location of some pitches, and I knew I didn't want to wait for us to tie or lose the lead.
"Eventually they (the Cardinals) did tie it up, but I don't want to not be proactive in advance of the game being tied so I did what we did. From the beginning to the end the bullpen was fabulous." Continued...