Chicago Cubs: After sweep, team set up for showdown with Cardinals
By Jake Misener
After sweeping the Mets, the Chicago Cubs welcome the rival St. Louis Cardinals in to Wrigley Field for a critical three-game showdown.
Early on Thursday, it looked like the Chicago Cubs may be in trouble. But the bats came roaring back, lifting the club to a much-needed third-straight victory.
Chicago (80-66) enters play three games ahead of both St. Louis and Milwaukee. After suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers, the Cubs ran off three-straight against the Mets. In Friday’s opener, the club hands the ball to veteran right-hander John Lackey (11-11, 4.65).
Lackey owns a 3.67 ERA in his last 10 starts. He had been a notably better pitcher for Chicago since the All-Star Break and could very well be a key factor in whether or not the Cubs make the postseason.
Opposite him, Carlos Martinez starts for the Cardinals. He comes off a win in his last outing and looks to improve on a solid track record against both the Cubs and at Wrigley. He owns a 3.19 ERA at the Confines, according to MLB.com.
"“The Cardinals have done it for many years in regards to championships and the level they’ve played at,” Maddon said. “I think [this series] is interesting, entertaining, great, I love being part of it. I feel good about where we’re at now. I like playing these kind of games a lot, and I think our players do. It’s good for Chicago, it’s good for St. Louis and good for baseball.”"
For the Cubs, the bats and bullpen will make-or-breal this club. In the series against the Mets, Chicago put up 33 runs over the course of three games. The bullpen largely did its job and it resulted in three wins. That being said, the bullpen has struggled at times against St. Louis this year, so we’ll see how it plays this weekend.
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Chicago and St. Louis continue their three-game weekend series with more matinee action Saturday.
Kyle Hendricks (6-5, 3.35) starts for the Cubs against Michael Wacha (12-7, 3.99). First pitch is at 3:05 p.m. CT.