Chicago Cubs: Home cooking smells good, doesn’t it?

Jun 3, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) and right fielder Jason Heyward (22) celebrate the final out of the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) and right fielder Jason Heyward (22) celebrate the final out of the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Cubs enjoy a winning record at home and, of late, look like an entirely different team when playing in front of the Wrigley Field faithful.

After taking the first two in a three-game series from the rival St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs’ strong play at Wrigley Field continued into June. Entering Sunday night’s finale, Joe Maddon‘s club sits five games over .500 at home – which poses a stark contrast to the team’s  11-16 mark away from Chicago.

Earlier this weekend, we broke down why this current 10-game homestand is so critical to the Cubs getting back on-track. A clutch grand slam from Kyle Schwarber propelled Chicago to victory on Saturday, but the offense needs to pick it up – even at Wrigley.

Over the last week, as a team the Cubs carry a sub-.170 average. That, of course, includes most of a six-game road trip that culminated in six-straight losses. The month of May was unkind to the Chicago offense, to say the least. But lately, there have been at least some signs of life.

In the last seven games, four Cubs players own batting averages north of .290: Jason Heyward (.292), Javier Baez (.333, 2 HR), Willson Contreras (.385) and Albert Almora Jr. (.400). Despite driving in 95 runs just last season, Addison Russell now finds himself in a platoon role at shortstop alongside Baez.

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And, really, that’s a credit to Baez, who has looked much better at the plate, of late. He forced his way into the starting lineup more regularly, giving Maddon at least one bat with some semi-consistent pop. Which, to be frank, is more than most of his teammates can say.

A perfect storm of chaos

Since May 23, Chicago pitching allowed more than three earned runs at Wrigley just one time – a 5-4 win over the San Francisco Giants on May 24. On the road, however, it’s been a completely different story.

In the three-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, the Cubs were outscored 18-4. Then, in San Diego, a similar story: the Padres outscored the Cubs 13-5 over the weekend at Petco Park.

It’s been a perfect storm of a struggling offense and spotty starting pitching. Playing at Wrigley Field this next week offers a chance to rack up some quality victories and separate themselves from the rest of the National League Central.

In 2015, Chicago owned a 49-32 mark at the Confines, en route to an NLCS appearance. Last year, the team set the single-season win record for Wrigley Field – 57-24. Of course, that led to an early clinch of the division crown and an eventual World Series championship.

What does all this mean to this year’s team?

This core loves playing in their home ballpark. They’ve bottled the magic of the ivy and iconic scoreboard ever since Maddon came to town. In two years, it’s led to two-straight deep October runs. With the offense mired in a slump, the best aid this team may have in their repertoire is clear.

Next: Struggling Schwarber lifts Cubs to big win at Wrigley

Riding their experience and comfort at home to another strong homestand – and back to the top of a weak division.