The Chicago Cubs open a weekend series on the South Side Friday, looking to draw ever closer to a third consecutive National League Central crown.
It’s time to buckle down. That much is clear. The Chicago Cubs have allowed the Milwaukee Brewers to hang around all season long (although, Milwaukee has done themselves plenty of favors, as well). Chicago enters the weekend with a 2 1/2 game lead over the Brew Crew – not giving much room for error with a week-plus left to play.
At this time of the season, ball clubs may make excuses but if you are not playing top ball, its really on you. Everyone knows now is the time to buckle down and get it done. That’s where the Cubs find themselves with 10 games left in the season. The injuries, the offensive slump, the harsh schedule all take a back seat this time of year because players as well as fans know that the race is too tight. Have we seen the Cubs’ maximum effort to-date?
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I’ll admit we’ve seen the pieces of the puzzle come together like the starting rotation, Daniel Murphy’s initial offensive show, Javier Baez‘s quest for National League MVP, Brandon Morrow’s best stuff and some electric play off the bench led by rookie David Bote. But have we seen it all come together?
"“Horrible,” Maddon said of Willson Contreras‘ lack of hustle on a ball that stayed in the yard earlier this week. “I didn’t like that at all. Not at all. And that will be addressed. The whole team didn’t like that.”"
That was Sept. 16, two weeks from the first slate of postseason games. Is Maddon confident his team will even make a run in October? It’s a good question with a Brewers team that refuses to let up and seems to be getting hotter (what you want to be) going into the the last weeks of the season.
The most recent games against the Arizona Diamondbacks demonstrated what a maximum effort would look like. That Cubs team that took Chase Field the first game, led by Kyle Hendricks pushing a shutout into the ninth inning and home runs by Kris Bryant and Baez, is a team I believe is ready for the postseason. Between the pitching, fielding and offense, it was one of the Cubs’ best all-around performances of late.
It goes without saying that the haters on the South Side of Chicago would like to do nothing better than spoil the march to October. The Chicago White Sox are in fourth place, 26 games back behind the Indians. In short, they’ve got nothing to lose. But you know they will be out to take it all in this Crosstown Classic. The question for the North Siders, though is simple: “Can the Cubs buckle down?”