Streaking Chicago Cubs take Crosstown Cup with 6-3 win over White Sox
Things seem to be coming together at long last for the Chicago Cubs.
After they beat the White Sox on Wednesday night to take over first place in the National League Central, pitcher Jake Arrieta said the Cubs are "feeling it" and that he believed the defending world champions could remain in first place the rest of the season.
Manager Joe Maddon has been looking all year for the Cubs to go on a season-defining "run."
If you're the Cubs, you must feel that now is the time and Miller Park in Milwaukee is the place.
After defeating the White Sox 6-3 on Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Cubs (54-47) held a 1½-game lead over the second-place Brewers, who led the division by 5½ games at the all-star break. The Brewers are reeling, having been blasted 15-2 earlier Thursday in Washington.
The Brewers will host the Cubs in three showdown games this weekend.
For the Cubs, it's all there for them. They got a pair of homers and a triple Thursday from Kyle Schwarber, a homer by Anthony Rizzo and 7 strong innings from pitcher Jon Lester.
"It's about time for that," Maddon said. "We're playing on that level right now. We've got the Brewers coming up. I think the trap there is always to just think that if you say something like that and then don't do it that you'd be a failure. Not true. I just like the idea, and I'll stay with my mantra, of one game at a time. We happen to be in first place right now."
Schwarber, who has 17 homers, said time will tell if the Cubs are hitting that run.
"It's looking that way, but we can't be thinking about that at all," he said. "We just want to go out there and play some solid baseball. That's what we're doing right now."
The rebuilding Brewers have been a nice story so far. But the Cubs have something they don't: a winning pedigree, based on last year's World Series victory and the run to the NLCS in 2015. That could and should work in the Cubs' favor.
"I've got to believe so," Maddon said. "There's something to be said for learning how to win. It's such a non-defined, nebulous kind of term, but it's true when you get to that time of the year when you've done it before, I think the best way I can describe it is you believe in those close games, you're going to win them somehow.
"You believe when it gets tight toward the end of season, you're going to figure it out somehow. You probably are less, for lack of a better method, stressed in the moment. You're not jonesing to get there for the first time.
"All these things are part of learning how to win. Once you learn how to win, then that method kind of helps you toward the end of the year. I think our guys have learned how to win, and we have to press that the rest of the season.
"I get it. There's something to be said for that in all sports, not just in ours."
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Scouting reportCubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park
TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus Friday; WGN Saturday; Comcast SportsNet Sunday
Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Jose Quintana (2-0 with Cubs) vs. Brent Suter (1-1) Friday at 7:10 p.m.; Kyle Hendricks (4-3) vs. Junior Guerra (1-4) Saturday at 610 p.m.; John Lackey (7-9) vs. Zach Davies (12-4) Sunday at 1:10 p.m.
At a glance: The Brewers are reeling. At the all-star break, they led the Cubs by 5½ games in the NL Central. Since then, they've gone 4-9, including Thursday's 15-2 loss at Washington, a game in which the Nats hit 5 home runs in the third inning and 8 for the game. The Cubs took two of three from the Brewers on the season-opening road trip, outscoring the Brewers 19-12. Travis Shaw has emerged an as offensive force for the Brewers with a line of .299/.370/.586 with 24 homers and 74 RBI. Eric Thames also has 24 homers, with 45 RBI. Domingo Santana has an on-base percentage of .378.
Next: Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field, Tuesday-Thursday
-- Bruce Miles