Column: The Chicago Cubs’ playoff fate could be decided Saturday after a gut-wrenching loss to the Milwaukee Brewers

After one other powerful one-run loss Friday evening at American Family Field, the Chicago Cubs discovered themselves getting ready to elimination with two video games remaining.

A season marked by wild swings was about to finish, maybe as quickly as Saturday evening in Milwaukee.

Manager David Ross mentioned after the gut-wrenching 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Brewers that the sensation within the clubhouse was no completely different than it had been the final week or so.

“Same as it’s been,” Ross mentioned. “We’ve got to win every game. It’s been that way for a while now. I know the score.”

In a season as loopy as this, the potential for extra time appeared like the right ending for a Cubs group that has gone from 10 video games below .500 to playoff contender to probably collapsing with 14 losses in 20 video games down the stretch.

The Miami Marlins’ suspended recreation in opposition to the New York Mets on Thursday meant the Cubs might have pressured them to play the ultimate inning Monday to beat them out for the third wild-card spot. But the Cubs’ loss and the Marlins’ comeback win in opposition to the Pittsburgh Pirates probably made {that a} moot level.

The Marlins can clinch the spot in the event that they preserve their 1 1/2 recreation lead as a result of they maintain the tiebreaker in opposition to the Cubs by successful the season sequence.

The Cubs nonetheless can do it however want a miracle end in opposition to a division-winning Brewers group that’s now 9 video games forward of them and likewise hope the Pirates beat the the Marlins the subsequent two video games.

A season that was inside their grasp solely three weeks in the past progressively slipped away, making this a slow-motion collapse.

“We’ll reflect on the season when it’s over,” Ian Happ mentioned. “Now we’re focused on winning a baseball game (Saturday). We have a group that hasn’t quit all year. It isn’t going to happen tomorrow. Probably play a close game and have everybody on the edge of their seats. But we’ll come out and do it again.”

Another giant contingent of Cubs followers was readily available Friday within the crowd of 39,216 to see if the group that already had been pronounced useless a handful of occasions in 2023 might take step one in an inconceivable comeback after the devastating sweep in Atlanta.

They virtually did. Happ’s game-tying residence run within the prime of the ninth gave them new life, however the Cubs couldn’t provide you with one other run and wound up with solely six hits.

Dansby Swanson and Cody Bellinger have been each hitless in 4 at-bats.

“Just playing bad, which I own,” Swanson mentioned. “Obviously come to work every day with the expectation of playing well. I just haven’t performed in moments recently. It sucks and definitely (is) something I’m working on. It’s not happened. We have two more chances.”

The concept that the Brewers have been salivating over knocking the Cubs out of the postseason was overblown, left fielder Christian Yelich instructed me earlier than the sport.

“It’s not really our focus,” he mentioned. “The only thing we’re focused on is trying to play our best version of baseball and stay competitive as a team. We’ve got the playoffs coming up in a few days, and you want to finish on a high note, keep up that intensity.”

Manager Craig Counsell downplayed the concept as nicely.

“We want to play good baseball, and that’s the mission every single night,” he mentioned. “I don’t know if there is anything extra there.”

Still, it will be a feather of their cap to assist put the ultimate stake within the Cubs season, and it figures to be a wierd closing weekend in a ballpark many Cubs followers consider as their second residence.

Yelich was ready to listen to it from them, as he has since changing into a Brewer in 2018. He has changed Ryan Braun as essentially the most hated participant by Cubs followers and is a verified Cub killer with 17 residence runs and an .813 OPS in opposition to them in his profession.

Like Braun, Yelich doesn’t thoughts enjoying the a part of villain. The extra boos, the merrier.

“You understand being part of the Brewers, that comes along with it,” he mentioned. “You hear everything. It’s part of being a major-league player in some of those rivalries.”

The roof at American Family Field was open for the sport on a cool, early-fall evening. The final time the Cubs have been on the town in early July featured the well-known “Roofgate” incident wherein Cubs supervisor David Ross was furious in regards to the closing of the roof throughout play regardless of no signal of rain. The Brewers insisted there was no ailing intent and that the potential for showers was the rationale for the choice.

Counsell mentioned Friday that the roof usually stays open except it will get beneath a sure temperature that he couldn’t reveal.

Top secret?

“You’d laugh, but I can’t say it,” he mentioned.

Hearty Wisconsinites apparently don’t prefer it too chilly of their ballpark. Imagine that.

The Cubs wish to stick round for some time, which might imply they made it to the postseason and began a wild-card sequence right here Tuesday.

But that doesn’t appear probably now. They had loads of probabilities however didn’t take benefit.

“It’s obviously frustrating,” Swanson mentioned. “Nobody wants it more than us.”

But wanting it extra hasn’t labored out for the Cubs, who could have an extended offseason questioning the way it all fell aside.