The Chicago Cubs season ended with a strikeout from an unexpected pitcher.
Back on September 29, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals found themselves playing out the thread. The Cardinals ticket to the postseason had been punched, their matchup with the Braves in the first round had been set. The Cubs, meanwhile, were wrapping up a disappointing season, with the only questions involving when Joe Maddon would be let go.
The game was over almost the moment that Derek Holland stepped on the mound. He allowed seven runs in his two plus innings, walking four and giving up five hits. Considering the Cubs mustered a grand total of four baserunners as they were shut out, the damage was certainly done.
Yet, they still had to get through nine innings. Someone had to get those final outs to end what was a lost season, ending the 2019 campaign. Even though the Cubs had plenty of pitchers available, they had no interest in burning another pitcher for the ninth inning. And so, Maddon turned to another player who was about to make his final appearance in a Cubs uniform.
Ben Zobrist moved from shortstop to the mound, with David Bote taking over his spot on the diamond. For Zobrist, it was his only professional pitching appearance, giving the remaining Cubs faithful something to cheer about.
The inning got off to a rocky start. Perhaps feeling some nerves, Zobrist walked the first batter on five pitches. After a deep line drive to center and another walk, he finally got himself under command on the mound. After a popup for the second out, Zobrist struck out Yadier Molina to end the inning, throwing the Cubs’ final pitch of the season in the process.
For now, that is the final pitch thrown by the Cubs at all. The 2020 season has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the next regular season game an uncertainty. Major League Baseball is hoping to start up by the beginning of July, but that may just be wishful thinking.
For now, the last pitch thrown by the Chicago Cubs came from an unexpected source. With that pitch, Ben Zobrist recorded his only career strikeout.