The Cubs and Cardinals rivalry provided some late drama Friday night in St. Louis. The box score play-by-play would show us that an Alec Burleson fly out to center field ended the game with a 3-2 Cubs victory. There are times when that type of a reading just doesn't do the on-field action justice, and this would be one of those times.
Here's the game-ending catch from Cubs center fielder Mike Tauchman:
Yeah, that's a robbery. It was a robbery of what would've been a walk-off homer for the Cardinals, in fact.
The inning as a whole was pretty wild. The Cubs got their first two runners on base with no outs, but then a bunt attempt resulted in a double play for the Cardinals. Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay, who got the final out in the eighth, allowed singles to Willson Contreras and Tyler O'Neill to start the top of the ninth before inducing a double play from Brendan Donovan -- which was a hell of a turn from the Cubs' outstanding defensive second baseman Nico Hoerner and shortstop Dansby Swanson. That set the table for Burleson to pinch hit for backup catcher Andrew Knizner.
And then Tauchman happened.
The win was the seventh straight for the Cubs and moves them to 52-51 on the season. That's the first time they've been above .500 since they were 17-16 on May 6. The low point was 10 games under .500 on June 8. Since then, the Cubs have gone 26-15.
The move this late in the month of July has implications throughout baseball. The Cubs have climbed to within striking distance of a playoff spot (four games out of the last NL Wild Card before Friday's games started) and that looks to be moving them away from sellers this trade deadline. If that indeed is the case, it takes Cody Bellinger, Marcus Stroman and likely a few others off the trading block.