The Chicago Cubs’ week may not have started how they envisioned, but boy did they have fun ending it.
After losing four consecutive games to the Cincinnati Reds, the Cubs began the week by losing two of three games to the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The 7-5 defeat on Wednesday against LA handed Chicago its sixth loss in seven games with Clayton Kershaw looming as Thursday’s probable pitcher.
However, from there the Cubs not only picked up four straight wins to earn a split with LA and sweep the Minnesota Twins, they made a little history.
On their current four-game, offense-filled win streak the Cubs have scored 46 runs. You heard that right, 46. Chicago has scored at least 10 runs in four consecutive games for the first time since 1930. The Cubs are the 31st team in MLB history to accomplish that feat and have also recorded 10+ hits in six straight games. Only 11 other teams in MLB history have that under their belt. Not to mention Chicago had at least 12 hits in five of those six games.
Three games, 35 #Cubs runs.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 2, 2018
So, I guess the Cubs offense has been enjoying the hot weather and hasn’t felt very desperate without Kris Bryant in the lineup either.
Plain and simple, it has been a fun couple of games for the Northsiders, who couldn’t have snapped out of their cold stretch with more authority.
The list of ridiculous stats and comparisons go on. Sure, it’s only four games, but double-digit runs for that many games in a row is truly something special. To put that into perspective, Chicago has averaged 11.5 runs per game on their current winning streak. Last NFL season, the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants both failed to eclipse 12 points in seven of their 16 regular season games.
It’s tough to say who deserves the most of the credit on offense this week. Honestly, everyone who got consistent playing time last week earned a slice of the pie. Considering the Cubs have gone 61-150 at the plate for a .407 batting average over the last four games, it’s evident that the offensive outburst was a team effort. Overall on the week, the Cubs hit .359 and also rallied to score at least five runs in five different innings.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 1, 2018
The Cubs are absolutely tearing the cover off of the ball lately. The most encouraging aspect of this stretch is what Chicago has done with runners in scoring position, an area they have struggled in all season.
The Cubs have hit .425 with runners in scoring position over their last seven games and .475 (38-59) on this current win streak. On Saturday, the Cubs recorded 20 base hits in a game for the first time since August of 2017. Chicago also went 11-22 with RISP, a season-high by a long shot.
If the Cubs can keep succeeding with runners in scoring position, their offense will find the ideal level of consistency it has been searching for. If Chicago also keeps showing resilience similar to how it did in 2016, it will be an even tougher club to beat.
The Cubs were trailing at one point during each of the five games they won last week. With crooked box scores such as 11-5 and 10-6, it’s difficult to believe that Chicago was trailing some of these games in as late as the sixth inning and had nothing to be proud of offensively until the later stages of the game. That makes the Cubs’ 5-2 week all that much more impressive, though.
For example, on Tuesday the Cubs trailed the Dodgers 2-1 with one out in the 6th inning. But, Addison Russell proceeded to tie the game with an infield single and Javier Baez put the game on ice with a grand-slam to complete a six-run rally.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 27, 2018
Speaking of Russell and Baez, each made a case for Cubs offensive player of the week. Despite the fact that nine different Cubs players recorded 7+ hits and hit at least .333 at the plate. And thankfully for Chicago, it doesn’t appear that neither Baez or Russell are too banged up after they collided on a popup on Sunday.
“Addy” is in the midst of a six-game hit streak in which he has gone 10-24 at the dish while knocking in 11 runs. Tuesday’s game-tying hit was one of a few clutch knocks for Russell last week.
The Cubs showed their resilience yet again on Thursday to earn a win they desperately needed. Russell tied the game in the 6th with a sac-fly as part of a two-run inning to give Chicago new life. The Cubs ended up putting up seven in the seventh on six hits and won by a final score of 11-5.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 28, 2018
The following day, Russell did it again in an even bigger way. Once again, the Cubs were down after a few innings, and once again Chicago found a way to come back. With one out in the bottom of the fifth and the bases loaded, the Cubs trailed the Twins 5-2 at Wrigley. Addy then lifted one into the bleachers for what would end up being a game-winning grand slam.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 29, 2018
Baez was essentially a coin flip at the plate last week. El Mago has gone 14-29 at the plate over his last seven games (.429). That is an extremely good thing to see given that his average plummeted to .250 in early June. It now stands at .290. Identical to Russell, Baez drove in 11 runs last week. “Javy” also recorded five multi-hit games. Though he continued to strike out a decent amount, it’s tough to be upset about that when Baez is reaching base a handful of times each game.
Like I said, pretty much every Cubs hitter deserves to be mentioned here. I mean, Anthony Rizzo knocked in six and went 9-18 during the Twins series and he’s the third player to get brought up.
But instead of talking about Rizzo, because we’ve become accustomed to seeing him get hot, it’s extremely important to make note of Ian Happ’s week at the plate. The Cubs’ outfielder reached base in every game last week and went 11-24 to raise his season batting average from .231 to .257. Happ also homered in what has by far been his best stretch of the season.
I can’t even begin to say how meaningful a stretch like this is for Happ. After starting the regular season with a home run in his first plate appearance, Happ had only a handful of games to be satisfied with offensively. His average even ascended to as low as .220. It’s not as if anyone, including Joe Maddon, has lost faith in the 2015 first round pick. The Cubs have just been waiting for him to come around. Well, this could be the jolt Happ needed to maintain solid hitting at the plate.
Chicago finds itself a mere half-game behind Milwaukee for the NL Central lead. After their fourth sweep of the season, there is no doubt that the Cubs are feeling good right now.
With an offense that has been extremely hot and cold, the Cubs’ pitching has been consistent and has carried them for much of the season. However, Chicago let up 25 runs to the Twins and had an ERA of 5.75 last week. In terms of pitching, last week may have been the Cubs’ worst of 2018.
The Cubs proved they can still find ways to win even when they aren’t pitching well. That has to boost Chicago’s confidence as well as take some pressure off the pitching staff.
For a final point of emphasis, while Chicago’s pitching was far from sharp last week, Jon Lester is still cruising. In addition to hitting the second home run of his career, Lester earned two victories last week and now sports a 2.25 ERA with an 11-2 record. The big lefty has now picked up a win in seven consecutive starts and was just awarded NL Pitcher of the Month for June. Lester allowed only four runs in 32 innings last month (1.13 ERA) and picked up four quality starts.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 1, 2018
The Chicago Cubs welcome the Detroit Tigers to Wrigley Field for a two-game set on Tuesday before hosting the Reds from Friday to Sunday.
- Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Eddie Herz is a senior journalism major at Colorado State University. He has been a beat reporter for CSU's newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian, since he was a freshman. Eddie has also contributed to the BTPowerhouse.com, a sister website of SBnation. Eddie will be the CSU Football beat reporter for the Rocky Mountain Collegian this coming Fall.