The Chicago Cubs are being called things like “red hot” and “scary good” right now. With a seven-game win streak now in the books, it kind of makes you wonder why we were so worried about the Cubs earlier this season. (Oh yeah, because they looked awful.) But now fans are forgetting all about that rough start, especially with their latest domination of the Cardinals in Sunday’s 13-5 victory. The Cubs just jumped to first place in the NL Central, right where Wrigleyville supporters had hoped they’d be for the past two years. But can they keep it up? Let’s look at how the Cubs are doing… and how they’ve been doing it!
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Beginning the season losing 8 games out of their first 11 (and with an especially worrisome 1-6 start), the Chicago Cubs have powered back fast and hard, winning 16 out of 20 games for the first time since August 2016. They’ve turned things around in a big way and now they’re sitting at number two on CBS Sports’ Power Rankings, where they were called “the best team in the National League at present.”
One of the best things about all this: It’s been an all-around team effort. Everyone in Chicago is performing.
Against the rival Cardinals on Sunday, Willson Contreras, David Bote, and Anthony Rizzo had two RBI each while Ben Zobrist had two hits and an RBI himself. The Cubs put up 10 runs in their final three at-bats, really rubbing in that W late in the game. The pitchers did their part too. On the mound, Jose Quintana only gave up two earned runs during six innings. Brandon Kintzler, Steve Cishek, and Tyler Chatwood finished things up for him.
Star slugger Kris Bryant’s grand slam in the eighth inning (the fourth of his career) was just icing on the blowout victory cake. After their three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, Bryant said, ”We’ve really turned it around… Our pitchers have been great. Our at-bats have been great. Defense, everything has really been clicking for us. This is the type of baseball that’s super fun to be a part of.”
And it looked fun too. There were cheers of “Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!” throughout the stadium.
Saturday’s game was a little bit tighter, but a home run in the eighth by Javy Baez helped them rally 6-5 past the Cardinals at Wrigleyville. Perhaps the most exciting moment in the game, however, came during the fourth inning when the Cubs were down 5-1 and all but predicted to lose. After the Cards intentionally walked Kyle Schwarber (drawing jeers from the crowd), Cubs catcher Taylor Davis stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam, the first home run of his career. Needless to say, the packed house of over 36,000 fans were pumped and let their team know it.
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But it’s not just the offense that’s being produced by Rizzo, Bryant, Contreras, Baez, and Jason Heyward. In April, the Cubs made changes to their bullpen, which, um, needed some help. Now they’ve got the MLB’s best ERA at 2.48 (that’s 56 earned runs in 203 innings). Pedro Strop, Kyle Ryan, Brad Bach, and Brandon Kintzler have all stepped up to boost the Cubs’s pitching performance. One glaring weakness is that, aside from Strop, the Cubs do need a more reliable closer.
The Cubs’ latest win brings them to 19-12 (.613) and the top of the NL Central leaderboard, stealing the top spot from the Cards, a far cry from when sports gurus were ready to write them off for the season. But if we learned anything from last year, it’s that the Cardinals and the Brewers are still tough competition and they won’t let up – every game counts. Cardinals pitcher Adam agrees, “They swept it this time. When it comes around, we’re going to try to do the same thing to them.”
We’re a month of baseball in – that’s 31 games completed – and the NL Central has turned into one of the tightest races in the league. The fight for the top spot is just getting started. Take it from Cardinals manager Mike Schildt: “It’s a good division, you’ll be battle-tested. A lot of close games. You learn to win those, it’s a positive thing for playoff baseball.”
We’ll be watching to see if the Cubs can continue their streak!
Shop Cheap Chicago Cubs Tickets! They’re finishing up a four-game series with the Marlins right now and taking on the division-rival Brewers all weekend!