Clinching a playoff spot can happen in a variety of ways. As a fan, it's always best to watch your team clinch a playoff berth with a victory at home, but it actually happens that way less often than usual.
In both 2015 and 2016, the Cubs earned their playoff berth with opponent losses. I looked at all of the Cubs postseason clinching games going back to 1906 and here are my top 5 favorites, with a few honorable mentions and the other Cubs clinchers since 1906.
#1 October 8, 1908
The last Cubs World Series victory may not have occurred had the Cubs not defeated the Giants 4-2 at the Polo Grounds on the final day of the season. 3 Finger Brown won his 29th game of the season and his 9th in a row as he defeated Christy Mathewson. Both Hall of Famers, Brown & Mathewson had many great matchups over the years.
Even this game may not have ever been played as it was a make up game from September 23rd, when Fred Merkle of the Giants didn't touch 2nd base on what appeared to be a game-winning hit. The MLB commissioner ruled
the 9/23 game a tie with this 10/8 game being the make up game. Cubs are considered such a cursed team, but in 1908, it was the Giants & Fred Merkle who were cursed.
#2 September 24, 1984
Ok, I'm biased on this one because I was a young Cubs fan, but hey, the Cubs first playoff berth in 39 years (1945) makes it a big part of Cubs history. Rick Sutcliffe was also outstanding this night game in Pittsburth. He gave up just 2 hits, both to leadoff hitter, Joe Orsulak, who Sutcliffe struck out to complete the game, the pennant clincher for the Cubs and
his own personal 20th win of the season on his way to the 1984 NL Cy Young Award.
#3 September 28, 1998
Like 1908, this one was "win or go home", as the Cubs & Giants tied for the wild card lead during regular season. Gary Gaetti got the big hit, a 2-run home run as the Cubs advanced to the playoffs with a 5-3 victory and got to celebrate at Wrigley Field when Rod Beck got former Cubs hitter, JOe Carter to pop out to win the game!!
#4 September 27, 1935
In the first game of a doubleheader, the Cubs clinched a trip to the World Series with a 6-2 victory at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. Bill Lee got his 20th win of the season over Dizzy Dean and the Cardinals. It was the game 20th consecutive victory, quite a way to end the season. Cubs will win the 2nd game to extend the historic winning streak to an amazing 21 games.
#5 September 26, 1989
Greg Maddux gets his 19th win of the season & when Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams strikes out Mike Fitzgerald, the Cubs clinch a playoff spot with a 3-2 victory over the Expos at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
September 27, 2003: Cubs sweep a doubleheader against the Pirates to clinch the NL Central title. September 19, 1906: Cubs win their 106th game of the season on their way to a record 116 win season. October 2, 1910: Cubs clinch the pennant and turn a triple play in the same game!! September 23, 1907: Cubs clinch the pennant for a trip to World Series and 3 Finger Brown gets his 20th win of the season.
August 29, 1918 The 1918 season was cut short when the United States entered the war.
At Weeghman Park, the Cubs clinched the NL pennant to advance to the World Series with a doubleheader sweep over the Reds. In game 1, Cubs pitcher lefty Tyler won his 18th game of the year pitching a 5-hit, complete game shutout in the Cubs 1-0 victory. Cubs win 2nd game of doubleheader 6-4.
September 18, 1929 Giants 7 Cubs 3 at Wrigley Field Pirates loss to the Braves clinches NL Pennant for Cubs.
September 20, 1932 Cubs 5 Pirates 2 GM1 of Doubleheader at Wrigley Field.
October 1, 1938 Cubs 10 Cardinals 3 in St. Louis, 2nd game of Doubleheader
Septmeber 29, 1945 Cubs 4 Pirates 3 in GM1 of a Doubleheader Hank Borowy gets victory.
September 28 2007 Carlos Zambrano helps Cubs shut out the Reds 6-0 in Cinncinnatti. Alfonso Soriano gets the Cubs off to a great start with his 6th leadoff the game home run in the month of September.
September 20, 2008 Cubs 5 Cardinals 4 at Wrigley Field. Ted Lilly 16th win, Kerry Wood 32nd save
September 25, 2015 Pirates 3 Cubs 2 at Wrigley Field Giants loss clinches playoff berth for Cubs (they were 2nd wild card team in 2015)
September 15, 2016 Brewers 5 Cubs 4 Cardinals loss to Giants clinches NL Central division and playoff berth for Cubs.