Although the Cubs avoided the losing-first-place fate of a sweep, they did once again lose two of three to the Brewers, leaving them with a razor-thin one-run lead in the NL Central. The teams are tied at 84 wins, but the Brewers have two more losses at the moment.
Since taking advantage of the juicy, early part of this SO MUCH BASEBALL stretch of games without a scheduled off-day by winning seven in a row, the Cubs have lost 8 of 14. There’s no sense in blaming the schedule for all of that, but I do expect that some of the underperformance is the residue of being tired (and consider that four of those eight losses were by a single run). Now, thanks to MLB’s decision about today’s game, the Cubs still don’t have an off-day for another week – and the 30 games in 30 days stretch will conclude with a trip out west to face the Diamondbacks. Horror show.
Steel yourself against some more losses in these next seven days. Hopefully the Cubs can find a way to win four of these seven games, and if they do, you’re just gonna have to be happy about it in isolation. Maybe the Brewers take six of their next seven (well, after a day off today, of course) and pull into the lead despite the Cubs’ efforts. But the Cubs can no longer control what the Brewers do – they had an opportunity to bury the Brewers, and they did not come through.
At least the Cubs’ final stretch of games are entirely in Chicago, with three against the White Sox at their place, then four against the Pirates and three against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Elsewhere in the Central, the Cardinals lost, so they stay 3.5 games behind the Cubs. Their lead for the second Wild Card spot is now up to 2.0 games over the Dodgers, however, and 4.0 games over the Diamondbacks. The reeling Phillies are now 6.5 games out – just a half-game better than the Nationals – and are toast.
As I mentioned, the Brewers get a day to relax and recharge before hosting the Pirates this weekend. The Cardinals start a huge series against the Dodgers today, so that’ll have all kinds of Wild Card implications – hopefully not something that will ultimately matter to the Cubs’ own playoff chances, but … well … we’ll see.