The Chicago Cubs successfully plugged the holes on their leaking ship with four-game sweep of the depleted Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend. Now comes a potential wild-card make-or-break stretch against the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.
Those, you might be aware, are the two teams Chicago is chasing for one of the two wild-card spots. The Pirates, the Cubs' NL Central rival, holds the top spot, four games ahead of the Chicago. Meanwhile the Giants, who briefly pulled ahead of the Cubs for the second wild-card spot, is now in a dead-heat with the Cubbies. Both teams are 57-47.
Chicago has to wonder where it might be right had it pulled off a few more wins during an 11-9 stretch against down-and-out teams. After getting swept by the Phillies at Wrigley Field, the Cubs turned things around, taking two out of three against Colorado and then pulling off four in a row in Milwaukee to get to 10 games over .500.
Chicago stays on the road, opening a three-game series at Pittsburgh before returning to Wrigley for three against the Giants, who are coming off losing two of three at Texas.
With the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals 9.5 games ahead of the Cubs, the wildcard appears to be Chicago's lone route into the postseason barring a total collapse by the Red Birds.
"I love it. I think it's great, Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters Sunday. "To really ascend in a division you have to play the better teams within your group and beat them.
"And to beat them where they live is important, too. It's really kind of fun. I think it's a blast."
(h/t Chicago Sun-Times)