Cubs are in 1st place as Brewers are fizzling


by - Columnist -
Benny Sieu - USA Today Sports
Benny Sieu - USA Today Sports

At the rate Milwaukee is going, the Cubs should be about 10 games up by the end of July, and that’s if they don’t play. After dropping two of three to the Marlins, Milwaukee has let the first four games of a five-game series slip away in Pittsburgh. At this point, the Cubs can be their own best friend, or their own worst enemy, as the opportunity has finally arisen to send Milwaukee reeling backwards in the standings.

No matter what the Crew did on Saturday, it just wasn’t good enough. The Pirates bats were hot during the double-header, with the second game seeing all six of the Bucs runs scored on solo home runs; with three dingers in the eighth inning alone. The Pirates’ Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco teamed up to deliver back-to-back homers in both the first and second games on Saturday, sending the Brewers back a full game in the standings.

Cincinnati helped the Cubs as well by continuing their winning ways, wiping out the Cardinals 8-2, putting them 7.5 games back. Cards’ (now former) manager, Mike Matheny became collateral damage in the process, losing his job following the Cards’ loss on Saturday. Bench coach, Mike Shildt, has been named interim manager.

Meanwhile, the Cubs, coming off another extra-inning win on Friday night, took full of advantage of Milwaukee’s misery and a slumping San Diego, downing the Padres by a final score of 11-6.

The Cubs’ bats were hot, and El Mago proved once again, why he’s an All-Star, tallying five RBI between his two-run double and a three-run home run.

Baez became the second player in MLB history alongside Willie Mays to have 18+ doubles, 18+ homers, 18+ steals, and 5+ triples before the All-Star break.

Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ also contributed dingers in their effort to help pad the Cubs’ first-place lead. Collectively, including Kyle Hendricks’ at-bats, the Cubs went 13 for 40 (.325), without Hendricks, the Cubs were 13 for 38 (.342).

Last night’s win now has the Cubs up by a game-and-a-half in the NL Central, with a chance to be up two-and-a-half games, pending today’s results. The Pirates will try to sweep the Brewers this afternoon, while the Cubs attempt a sweep in San Diego. Meanwhile, the Reds will attempt to advance on fourth place, taking on the Cardinals in St. Louis.

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