Just when you thought you'd seen everything, along comes Thursday's Cubs-Pirates game. With the score 1-1 in the sixth inning, the teams waited through an 83-minute rain delay with no relief in sight. Since the game didn't matter to the postseason, and both teams had places to go, the game was called and (under 7.02(b)(4) for you rulebook fans) declared a tie.
A 2007 rule change by Major League Baseball virtually eliminated tie games; in any other scenario, Thursday's contest would have been suspended and resumed later. However, because it was the final game of the season between the teams, there is no "later.” It's the first time the tie-game exception has been invoked since that 2007 change, and it is the first tie under the "last game of season" rule since Aug. 15, 2002, between the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants. Previously, tie games were often declared (the last one was in 2005), but they were replayed later so teams still got 162 (or 154) decisions.
The Cubs had not been involved in a tie since May 28, 1993, when they got through five rainy innings against Montreal and called the game with the score 2-2. That was made up as a doubleheader on the Expos' next visit. The Cubs were also involved in the first tie in the World Series (there have been three). On Oct. 8, 1907, they played 12 innings with the Detroit Tigers at West Side Park (now home to the UIC College of Medicine) before the game was called on account of darkness. The Cubs went on to sweep the next four for their first title.
Other Cubs oddities
Dexter Fowler went single-double-triple in his first three plate appearances Saturday and thus had two shots at the "natural cycle.” Although Chris Coghlan has had those three hits in his first three plate appearances once in each of the last two seasons, Fowler was the first Cubs player to do it in order since Shawon Dunston on Sept. 28, 1985. Only one Cubs player has ever completed the natural cycle: Billy Williams on July 17, 1966.
Speaking of Coghlan, he had a go-ahead bases-loaded triple in Tuesday's win, the first by a Cubs player since ... Chris Coghlan in 2014. He's the first Cubs player with two since Williams did that as well, in 1963 and 1965.
Albert Almora entered Tuesday's game as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning. He then doubled in the seventh and hit his first career triple in the ninth. He is the first Cubs player to have a triple and a double in a game he didn't start since Mickey Morandini on Apr. 7, 1999.
David Ross hit his 10th home run Sunday, making nine Cubs players who have reached double digits this season. That ties a team record set last year, and Willson Contreras is also among them. That makes 2016 the second time that two Cubs catchers have hit 10 homers each; Sammy Taylor and backup Earl Averill (who played 20 games at other positions in addition to catching) did it in 1959.
The Cubs started their series in Pittsburgh with 12 runs and 18 hits Monday, their first time hitting both those numbers at PNC Park since 2008. Javier Baez had a grand slam and six RBIs, the second Cubs player to do that batting eighth or ninth. Jody Davis pulled it off against the Expos on June 26, 1983.
Record watch: Monday's win was the Cubs' 100th of the season, their first triple-digit win total since 1935. Even if they are swept in Cincinnati this weekend, they will finish with a .627 winning percentage (the tie is disregarded). Of the 15 previous seasons the Cubs have won at that pace, they have won the National League pennant 14 times; the exception is 1909, when they still finished 6½ games behind the Pirates.