It proved to be a wild one, with the always-prone-to-moan John Lackey losing his temper with the home plate umpire (admittedly after the ump made a bad mistake by not calling what should have been strike three, only for opposing pitcher Carlos Martinez to drive in a run on the next pitch) and catcher Wilson Contreras quickly joining him by being tossed from the game.
The Cubs recovered with a seven-run sixth inning to win the series opener and went on to win the next two games, sweeping the Cardinals out of Wrigley after doing the same to the New York Mets earlier in the week.
The six-game winning streak has given the Cubs a four-game lead in the NL Central over the Milwaukee Brewers, who won two of three against Miami in an away series played in Milwaukee (due to the effects of Hurricane Irma), and a six-game lead over the Red Birds. Whilst we all know better than to call anything over until it’s truly over, that looks like being a decisive lead with games beginning to run out.
Elsewhere in the National League, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies both won their weekend series 2-1 (over the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres respectively) so that the D-Backs maintain a five-game lead for the first NL Wild Card and the Rockies have a 2.5 game lead over Milwaukee for the second. The LA Dodgers took two of three in Washington with the Nationals salvaging the finale and getting Bryce Harper back out of the field pre-game to take some batting practice as he works his way back from injury.
NL This Week
It’s a homecoming of sorts for the Chicago Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon as his team takes on the Tampa Bay Rays for a two-game series at Tropicana Field. Milwaukee are in Pittsburgh for three games against the slumping Pirates, with St Louis in Cincinnati taking on the Reds. Colorado have a two-game series against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
Cleveland end one run, start another
The Kansas City Royals finally became the team to stop Cleveland on Friday night as their 4-3 victory brought the Tribe’s winning streak to an end at an incredible 22 games. Cleveland haven’t exactly sulked about it, winning the two games that followed and celebrating another AL Central title.
The Houston Astros were also celebrating on Sunday as Justin Verlander helped to pitch his new team to their first AL West division crown. The Astros swept the Seattle Mariners across three games in a series that puts the M’s on the back-foot in their hopes of clawing their way into a Wild Card position.
The New York Yankees have a four-game cushion on Minnesota for the first AL Wild Card after they won three of four in the Bronx against Baltimore, with the Twins splitting a four-game series against Toronto. The Twins have a two-game lead over the LA Angels for the second Wild Card after the Halos took two of three at home against the Texas Rangers. The Boston Red Sox also won two of three over the Tampa Bay Rays to stay three games ahead of the Yankees at the top of the AL East.
AL this week
The big match-up comes from the Bronx where the New York Yankees host the Minnesota Twins for three games starting on Monday. The Angels host the Cleveland Indians, the Rangers and Mariners meet again and the Boston Red Sox are in Baltimore.