All three teams vying for playoff spots in the National League Central brought home wins on Sunday, including Joe Maddon‘s first-place Chicago Cubs.
When it comes down to it, the race for the National League Central boils down to a few simple points. First, the Milwaukee Brewers are not going to beat themselves – accept that. Second, the St. Louis Cardinals are, in all likelihood, a wild card team – and nothing more. Lastly, the Chicago Cubs need to control what they can control – and on Sunday, they did just that.
The offense lit up White Sox starter Carlos Rodon en route to a 6-1 win at Guaranteed Rate Field. Chicago scored three times in the first, once in the second and added another pair in the third to put this one away early behind a lights-out Kyle Hendricks.
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Hendricks picked up his 13th win of the year, thanks to a 7 2/3 innings of four-hit, one-run ball. The right-hander induced near-limitless soft contact on the ground as the combination of Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo turned in a clean afternoon.
While Hendricks admittedly stole the show, don’t sleep on an offense that’s showing signs of life of late. Daniel Murphy, Zobrist, Rizzo, Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber all recorded a multi-hit effort Sunday – and the bats racked up 14 runs over the final two games of the series.
With Hendricks and the rest of the rotation pitching well lately, this offense outburst bodes well for the Cubs heading into the final week. One of the big highlights on Sunday? Kyle Schwarber, who rocked his first homer of the year off a southpaw – and narrowly missed a second with a double off the wall later in the game.
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Chicago returns to Wrigley Field to close out the regular season, beginning with a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The opener of that matchup is set for Monday night with a dandy of a pitching matchup, featuring Cole Hamels and Jameson Taillon.