The last two weeks of games had plenty of positives the Cubs can take into October.
60 Games (34-26) 1st Place NL Central
The first of the final 15 games for the Cubs came in the form of a 1-0 loss to the Brewers. In a wasted redemption start from Jon Lester, the Cubs managed just two hits before a walk-off hit by nemesis Ryan Braun.
The following day wasn’t much better, as Milwaukee was up 2-0 in the top of the ninth inning and prepared to blank the Cubs for the second straight game.
With Josh Hader on the mound for the Brewers (12 2/3 IP 2 H 3 ER 20 SO through September 11) and a dreadful Cubs’ offense, things weren’t looking good.
This is where I believe the Cubs turned their season around.
After retiring the first batter, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo notched back-to-back singles to set the stage for Jason Heyward.
The newly acquired Ildemaro Vargas took Hader deep in the next at-bat to put the Cubs ahead 4-2.
Craig Kimbrel, who put together a stretch of strong performances, came in and closed the door on a comeback victory for the ages.
As if things couldn’t get any better, the following day, the offense scored 12 runs, and oh yea–Alec Mills threw a no-hitter.
Following the Heyward-heroics, the Cubs won five games in a row and were a season-high 11 games above .500.
Sadly the team came back to earth and lost five of six games where the offense scored more than two runs just once and was shut out twice in that span.
This led to the three-game season finale against the White Sox on the Southside of Chicago. The offense once again came back to life, scoring a total of 25 runs as the Cubs took two of three games in the series as they clinched the NL Central.
The timing could not be more perfect for the Cubs heading into the postseason, as Kris Bryant also returned after missing more time due to injury.
The former MVP looked the best he has all season, blasting two home runs and driving in six, including a grand slam in the final two games.
Now the Cubs will head into October on a bit of a high note. There’s no time to wait around and hope for the offense to find itself; they’ll need to get off to a good start and fast, or they’ll get sent home packing.
For all the struggles that have seemed to happen for the Cubs this season, there are plenty of positives they can hang their hats on.
This is an experienced group with a championship pedigree, and they handled a shortened, pandemic filled season by winning their division when many counted them out.
I like the Cubs’ odds in the playoffs.