The Cubs reached a new high-water mark with Wednesday’s 9-2 victory over the Reds. The Cubs will spend Thursday’s off day a season high 42 games over .500. The Cubs are 97-55 on the year, the first time the team has been that many games over .500 since the end of the ’45 season (98-46).
The Cubs have their sights set on 100 wins and the best record in the National League. The Cubs are looking to secure home field advantage in the NL playoffs and currently have an eight-game lead over the Nationals with 10 games left on the schedule.
The Cubs have already matched the win total from last season. But Joe Maddon has no plans whatsoever to back down or play his B-Team this weekend against the Cardinals. The Cubs are out to beat their long-time rivals and finish what has been an excellent season at Wrigley with as many wins as possible.
The Nationals won a game in Miami and topped the Marlins 8-3. The NL Wild Card race remained a three-way tie with the Mets (4-3 loss to the Braves), Cardinals (Rockies won 11-1) and Giants (lost 9-3 to the Dodgers) all losing their games Wednesday. ESPN broke down the scenario if three teams tie for the NL Wild Card, and it could get crazy but not as much as Theo Epstein would like. The Mets, Cardinals and Giants are 80-72 with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
The Cubs will not back off during the series with the Cardinals. The Cubs have goals to reach and could make it hard for the Cardinals to make it to the playoffs by taking at least two of the three games.
Miguel Montero had another big night at the plate Wednesday while working extremely well with John Lackey. Montero went 3-for-5 with a run scored and three RBI. And he drove in all three runs with two out hits.
Lackey pointed out the difference Montero made Wednesday.
“I definitely feel like I got better as the game went along,” Lackey said. “Kind of figured out how they were approaching the game. Made a nice adjustment and Montero caught a great game and had a couple of big hits for me.”
Montero is feeling good mentally and physically right now.
“I feel good,” Montero said. “Confidence is there. It’s something that you have to take full advantage of while it’s there. Because you don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
Miguel Montero is 11-for-32 over his last 11 games and five of his hits have gone for extra bases (three doubles, two home runs). Montero is hitting .344/.400/.625 with a 1.025 OPS. And for those in the small-sample crowd, Montero is hitting .250/.353/.375 with five doubles and two home runs for a .728 OPS in his last 32 games. Montero has 13 walks and 19 strikeouts in 88 at-bats.
Miguel Montero has not only played his way on the Cubs’ playoff roster. He could have a bigger role than anyone, including Montero, would have thought a month ago.
According to Buster Olney, Jason McLeod has interviewed with the Twins and has done well in the process. McLeod is “said to be well-regarded, well-positioned in Minnesota discussions.”
McLeod is believed to be toward the top of the Twins list to be either the President of Baseball Operations or the team’s next General Manager.
According to Mike Berardino, the Twins front-office interviews could stop at five candidates. And McLeod is one of the five.
Cubs, Home Field in NL Playoffs
The Cubs reduced the number to three of clinching home field throughout the NL playoffs on Wednesday night. With the fact the Cubs own the tie breaker with the Nationals, a combination of two Cubs wins and/or two Nationals losses and Joe Maddon’s team will have the opportunity to play a majority of the postseason games at Wrigley Field in October.
The Cubs clinched at least home field advantage in the National League Division Series with Tuesday’s win over the Reds combined with the Dodgers loss to the Giants.
The Cubs will finish with at least one of the top two records in the National League.
The Cubs are 55-23 at Wrigley Field this season. Joe Maddon wants to ensure that as long as the Cubs take care of business the road to the Series in the NL goes through Wrigley.
News and Notes
• John Lackey looks ready for the postseason according to Bruce Levine. John Lackey joined the double-digit-win club as Cubs starting pitching keeps shining. Comcast SportsNet explained how the rotation strength/health has told the story of the Cubs season so far. The Cubs keep winning while revving up for the postseason according to ESPN Chicago.
• According to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs won’t let up against the Cardinals in a potential playoff preview. Joe Maddon said, “From my perspective, it’s our responsibility to play those games straight up.”
• Joe Maddon has no plans to change the top of the Cubs’ regular lineup. The Tribune reported Maddon will not move Kris Bryant from the two-hole. Anthony Rizzo will continue hitting third and Ben Zobrist will bat clean-up for the Cubs. Maddon explained his reasoning in this must-read report from Mark Gonzales.
• Cubs could have many contributors come October according to Chris Emma.
• Jon Lester said he was fine Wednesday a day after taking a comebacker off his right wrist. Lester did not want to talk about getting hit with the baseball and preferred to discuss other Cubs topics.
• Cubs bench players enjoying first-hand look as team chases historic finish according to Sports Illustrated.
• It has been a banner year for 670 The Score in the station’s first season of broadcasting Cubs’ games. According to the Tribune, the Cubs playoff run scores win for new radio partner WSCR. Pat Hughes is the only radio voice of the Cubs, don’t let other outlets try to talk you into listening to an alternative broadcast. There is only one place to listen to Cubs games and that’s with Pat Hughes calling the action on The Score.
• Jason Heyward told The Sun-Times, “There’s naturally going to be fear in speaking out.”
• Joan Niesen explained how a Cardinals fan living in Chicago learned to stop worrying and love (well, not hate) the Cubs.
• The number of Cubs’ wins the last five seasons: 61 (2012), 66 (2013), 73 (2014), 97 (2015) and 97 (2016) with 10 games to go.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Jake Arrieta became the first 20-game winner in the big league with the 4-0 shutout win over the Brewers. Arrieta was the first Cubs’ pitcher to win 20 or more games in a single season since Jon Lieber in 2001.
2015 – Kris Bryant set the Cubs’ All-Time Rookie Home Run record with his 26th longball of the season.
2008 – Jason Marquis hit a grand slam in a 9-5 victory over the Mets as the Cubs secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
2002 – Fred McGriff became the first player to hit at least 30 home runs in a season for five different teams (Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Devil Rays, Cubs) with a first inning longball at PNC Park. McGriff’s homer at PNC also set a record. McGriff hit home runs in 42 different big league parks.
1990 – Andre Dawson stole the 300th base of his career. Dawson joined Willie Mays as just the second player in Major League history with 300 home runs, 300 steals and 2,000 hits.
1987 – Cubs sent Dickie Noles to the Tigers for a player to be named later. Noles was returned to the Cubs a month later as the PTBNL.
1965 – Mark Guthrie, born
1955 – Cubs traded players to be named later and cash to Sacramento (PCL) for John Briggs and Richie Myers. Cubs sent Bubba Church and Joe Stanka in 1956 to complete the trade.
1947 – Cubs released Claude Passeau
1942 – Red Sox purchased Roy Partee from the Cubs
1938 – Bill Lee pitched his fourth consecutive shutout and tied Mordecai Brown and Ed Reulbach for the Cubs record in a 4-0 victory over the Phillies at Shibe Park.