Down the Stretch

Down the Stretch
Beef is what's for dinner! (Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)

The Cubs just swept the Reds for the first time in forever:



And with that win, the Cubs say goodbye to the Reds until 2015, when they’ll have a few new faces in the lineup to rekindle the rivalry.  Also, at 1113-1112, the North Siders will lead their National League rivals in the all-time series through the offseason at least.  So there’s that.  They also happened to eliminate the Reds from postseason contention, so that’s fun too.

Now comes the stretch run, where the stakes get higher for the Cubs’ opponents.  In the final homestand, after the Reds sweep, the Cubs will host the Dodgers in a four-game set and finish with the Cardinals for three games.  They’ll use next Thursday to drive to Milwaukee and finish out the season with three against the Brewers.  All of this is important based on the standings as of the end of tonight’s game at Wrigley Field.

Right now, the Dodgers are barely hanging on to the NL West lead, just two games over the Giants.  The Cubs could play spoiler but they have to go through Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw through the first two games and that’s a tough task.  The Giants would most likely appreciate anything the Cubs can do to help, of course.  This will be the last out-of-division opponent for the Cubs in 2014 and they’ll try to make it hurt.

In the NL Central, the Cardinals hold a small 2.5 game lead over the Pirates.  The Pirates own the second NL Wild Card spot, 2.5 games behind the Giants, who have the top wild card at the moment.  The Brewers are now 2.5 games back of the Pirates and continuing to slide.  After doing whatever they can against the Dodgers, the Cubs could potentially mess with both the Cards and the Brew Crew, which would make Pirates fans very happy, especially if the Bucs somehow win the division.

By the way, at 68-84, the Cubs need to win just two of their next 10 games to get to 70 wins.  They’d need to go .500 the rest of the way to avoid 90 losses.  Yeah, that may or may not push them out of protected pick status, but honestly I don’t much care as the momentum from a late season burst with developing prospects who could be important to this Cubs team for years to come outweighs the draft pick in my mind.  Of course, you’d prefer the protected pick in case the front office goes after elite free agents, but that’s a story for another day.

The next Cubs win is going to be so nice.


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