Cubs cruise to fourth straight win
The Cubs are the story of the month for April, no matter what happens the next couple of days.
They may have the player of the month in Anthony Rizzo, who in addition to his batting exploits has been a terror on the bases with 6 stolen bases.
It was all on display Tuesday night as the Cubs made it 2-for-2 against the Pittsburgh Pirates in this series with a 6-2 victory at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs' young offense rapped out 12 hits, 2 doubles and 10 singles, and stole 5 bases, including 4 on a pair of double-steals in a 2-run fourth inning.
"We're playing at a really high level mentall right now, a lot of energy, trying to make things happen," said manager Joe Maddon.
When this one was all over, the Cubs found themselves with a 12-7 record to start the month. They haven't been this good in the first month of the season after 19 games since the 2008 club went 13-6. That club won the National League Central with the best record in the National League.
Maddon was unaware of that, but he did talk beforehand of how he breaks down the seasonal goals.
"My big thing is we're trying to win every month," he said. "To win every month would be part of the goals. You try to win the week. You try to win the day. You try to win the month. At the end of the season it looks pretty good normally.
"But overall, man, I'm telling you. You guys have seen it. We've just been coming out and playing every night. I say that all the time but our guys are ready to play. Go play, and that's what they've been doing."
The Cubs also are getting it done lately with starting pitching. Travis Wood 2-1, 3.04 ERA) went 7 innings and gave up a 2-run homer to Starling Marte in the fourth inning after the Cubs had taken a 4-0 lead. That was the Cubs' 10th quality start of the season, and they're 9-1 in those games.
Wood struck out nine and walked nobody, following on the heels of Jason Hammel's no-walk start Monday.
"That means you've been attacking the strike zone and getting some quick outs and not letting them get deep, not giving any free passes," said Wood, who looks to be regaining his all-star form of 2013. "Free passes have bit me before. They've got every pitcher. To be able to keep that off the board is a good thing."
Cubs batters drew 6 walks, and Maddon said they've been "grinding out every moment of every at-bat."
They've also turned running the bases into a track meet. The 4 stolen bases in the fourth were the most by a Cubs team in one inning since the 1997 club did it against Montreal. They stole 5 bases in a game for the first time since 2011.
The players seem to be enjoying running and gunning, something Maddon called a "musketeer-cavalier attitude."
"Oh, yeah," said Starlin Castro (.342), who picked up 3 hits to give him a team-leading 27. "That's one of the things we talked a lot about in spring training. That gives us confidence, especially first-to-third. First-to-third, you're going. If you're out, you're out. You don't come into the dugout and somebody says something to you."