The Chicago Cubs are back on the winning side of things and a historic march to October is still in effect on the North Side.
With Sunday’s victory in the books, capped by the 14th no-hitter in franchise history by ace Jake Arrieta, the Cubs returned home this week to get going the stretch run of the season beginning tonight with a series against the Cincinnati Reds.
National League bottom feeders (Reds, Diamondbacks) are featured in the next six game so the Cubs should expect a jolt in the arm thanks to the fortunate scheduling and Joe Maddon’s team-imposed pajama jam on the red-eye flight back from LA, which came at an interesting time to say the least right after the exuberance provided by Arrieta’s first career no-no.
With a 5.5 game cushion in the NL wild card hunt, the Cubs simply need to stay afloat and they’re a sure bet to face Pittsburgh in a single-game elimination game to make the big dance.
But with Maddon not jiving to that kind of vibe, expect the Cubs to a bit more and play with the type of sense of urgency that spells blood in the water and bad news for NL foes, as the hunt for Red October is in full swing on the north side.
Monday saw a let-down performance by the Cubs in an 13-6 loss, the first time the Cubs have given up double-digit runs since August 19th and only the third time since the all-star break the club has been hit on that much.
It’s still up in the air whether or not the Cubs can be victim to a September swoon — lord help the long suffering Cub nation if that is the case — but such a down-turn may be harder to come by than in previous pennant chases (hello, 1969) and that’s mainly due to Arrieta’s role as ace and stopper. As it’s supposed to be with any Cy Young candidate, when Arrieta’s on the mound, the Cubs can’t feel any more confident.
More on Arrieta’s Breakthrough:
How Cubs ace Jake Arrieta went from one of MLB’s worst starters to one of its best (For The Win)
Jake Arrieta owns best of Cubs’ no-hitters (Chicago Sun-Times)
Chicago Cubs Wouldn’t Be Where They Are Without Jake Arrieta (Rant Sports)