Cubs, Rockies to battle for wild card

The Associated Press
Andrew Seligman

CHICAGO–Manager Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs insist they still have plenty left to make another deep run in the post-season.
What they don’t have is room for error.
The Cubs will host the Colorado Rockies in the wild-card game today after both teams lost tie-breaker games for their respective division championships.
“We’re not dead in the water,” Maddon stressed.
The Cubs will send ace Jon Lester (18-6, 3.32 ERA) to the mound–hoping to keep their season going after a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee for the NL Central championship at Wrigley Field yesterday.
They’ll be back at the old ballpark again, trying to eliminate Colorado after the Rockies dropped a tie-breaker for the NL West to the L.A. Dodgers by a 5-2 score.
Kyle Freeland (17-7, 2.85) starts for the Rockies, with the winner facing Milwaukee in the best-of-five Division Series starting Thursday at Miller Park.
The other NLDS will pit Atlanta against L.A.
Colorado and the Cubs split six games this year, each scoring 33 runs. They haven’t faced each other since early May.
NL home run champ Nolan Arenado and the Rockies (91-72) had won nine-of-10 before getting shut down by rookie Walker Buehler in yesterday’s 5-2 loss.
Colorado has never won its division.
“Excited about it,” manager Bud Black said. “It’s going to be a great environment [Tuesday] at Wrigley.
“Their manager and I go way back,” he added. “This team enjoys playing on the big stage.”
Charlie Blackmon, who had two of Colorado’s four hits yesterday, called it “an amazing opportunity.”
“The fact of the matter is we have a chance to win the World Series,” he remarked.
The Cubs (95-68) reached the playoffs for a franchise-record fourth-straight year and had a third-consecutive division championship in sight, only to be pushed aside by the surging Brewers.
But the Cubs also are a tough team to keep down.
They have three-straight appearances in the NL Championship Series and a World Series championship in 2016 that ended a 108-year drought.
They’re no strangers to tight spots and they find themselves in another one today after Milwaukee caught them down the regular-season stretch.
The Brewers won four-of-six against Chicago in September to help forge the tie-breaker game yesterday after the Cubs went from trailing them by 4.5 games in the division to leading by five.
Milwaukee pulled even on the final weekend.
The Cubs then managed just three hits yesterday against Jhoulys Chacin and four relievers.
They also were held to one run or less for the 39th time even though they ranked fourth in the National League in scoring.
“We have another opportunity,” Maddon said.
“I’ve been involved with wild-card teams that have gone all the way. It happens.”
Maddon was the L.A. Angels’ bench coach in 2002 when they won the World Series as a wild card. And the Cubs certainly have won their share of elimination games the past four seasons.
They beat Pittsburgh in the wild card-game in 2015 after finishing third in the division behind St. Louis and the Pirates.
In 2016, they rallied from 3-1 down in the World Series and won Game 7 at Cleveland to bring home the first championship in 108 years.
And they beat Washington in a gruelling Division Series last year–winning Game 5 on the road.
“This is nothing new to us,” outfielder Jason Heyward said.
The American League wild-card game goes tomorrow in New York as the Yankees host the Oakland A’s.
The winner will face Boston in one division series while the other pits Cleveland against Houston.