In winning Thursday’s one-game make-up contest in Atlanta, the Chicago Cubs once again sit 25 games above .500 with a five-game lead for NL’s best record.
Having to fly from Chicago to Atlanta for just one game before turning around and heading back north to Philadelphia certainly isn’t ideal – especially this late in the season. But that’s the hand the Chicago Cubs were dealt – and they’re making the most of it.
The Cubs kicked off their lengthy road trip Thursday by escaping SunTrust Park with a 5-4 win over the young, hungry Atlanta Braves. The bullpen stood tall in relief of Mike Montgomery and Tommy La Stella delivered a pinch-hit, go-ahead two-run home run to pace the offense.
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Of course, the defense was sterling behind the Cubs hurlers. Javier Baez made several difficult plays late look easier than they were and Albert Almora made an incredible sliding grab on the warning track in center field to help keep Chicago in the fight.
Thursday may have offered a sneak peak at a potential postseason matchup. That would certainly break the trend of the Dodgers and Nationals taking center stage for the Cubs come October. If the postseason started today, Atlanta would represent the NL East, the Cubs the Central and Arizona, the West.
That leaves St. Louis and Milwaukee duking it out in a one-game Wild Card contest – with the winner taking on the Cubs in the NLDS, thanks to Chicago’s league-leading record.
Despite where the Cubs find themselves (a very enviable position), one can’t help but wonder what the rotation may have looked like with Jake Arrieta in the mix. With Chicago headed to Philly, we’ll all be thinking about this very question, I’m sure.
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Chicago opens the holiday weekend in Philadelphia, taking on a Phillies team that needs to find its footing sooner rather than later. Jose Quintana (11-9, 4.33) squares off against Nick Pivetta (7-10, 4.76 ERA) in Friday’s opener at Citizens Bank Park.