The Cubs still have best record in NL (71-52). The Brewers jumped back into 2nd place over the Cardinals and are now 3.5 games behind the Cubs. The Cardinals are 4 games back. The wild card race is very close as 7 teams are separated by just 2 games for the final 2 playoff slots.
Playoff percentages for the Cubs per MLB.com (after games on 8/19)
Source: MLB.com, Postseason Projections
Next Series: Cubs vs Tigers in Detroit
Tuesday, August 21 to Wednesday, August 22
Cubs vs Pirates in Pittsburgh
Thursday, August 16 to Sunday, August 19
Well, the Pirates split the 4 game series with an 11th inning win over the Cubs. Adam Frazier who hit the big double on Saturday in the 3 run Pirates rally that won that game, hits the walk-off home run for a 2-1 victory.
the good news: The Cubs pitching staff was great this series. 4 solid starts and great relief pitching allowed the Pirates to score just 5 runs in 4 games.
the bad news: Each game, the Cubs scored just one run, and each game it was on a solo home run.
The Cubs get a day off on Monday, 8/20 to travel to Detroit to face the Tigers in a 2 game series to finish this road trip. They will travel back to Chicago on Thursday, 8/23 to face the Reds.
This series continues to be very well pitched by both the Cubs and the Pirates. Tyler Chatwood gave up 3 early runs, but he was pitching on short notice after Mike Montgomery went to the disabled list this week. He struggled with walking batters again so Joe Maddon pulled him after he led off the 3rd inning with a walk. The bullpen pitched 7 scoreless innings of relief. But Joe Musgrove and the Pirates bullpen were even better. For the 3rd straight game, the Cubs get one run on a solo home run. Thursday it was Ian Happ, Friday it was Kyle Schwarber and on this Saturday, it was Ben Zobrist.
For the 2nd straight night, the Cubs shut out the Pirates and score their only run with a solo home run. Thursday, it was Ian Happ and on this Friday it was Kyle Schwarber.
It is the first time in 45 years that the Cubs win back to back 1-0 games. In 1973, on April 17th, Fergie Jenkins and the Cubs defeated the Mets and Tom Seaver 1-0. On April 18th, Ray Burris, Larry Gura & Jack Aker shut out the Mets 1-0.
Another piece of Cubs and MLB history, the Cubs tied an MLB record with an amazing 7 double plays in this game.
With the Cubs rotation struggling, it was great to see Jon Lester return to great form against the Pirates. Ivan Nova also shut down the Cubs, but one run was enough to give the Cubs a win in the first game of a 4 game series.
Cubs vs Brewers at Wrigley Field
Tuesday, August 14 to Wednesday August 15
Tue: Brewers 7 Cubs 0
Wed: Cubs 8 Brewers 4
Cubs bats came alive to split the series with the Brewers. Kyle Hendricks pitched well and the bullpen helped hold on to an early Cubs lead. Anthony Rizzo homered and drove in 3 runs. Albert Almora homered and Jason Heyward had 3 hits.
The Brewers bats were on display early and often when Lorenzo Cain led off the game with a home run off the Cubs, Jose Quintana and Ryan Braun gave the Brewers an early 3-0 lead with a 2-run home run. Braun will hit another home run later in the game (that looked like a reply of the first).
Quintana gave up 5 runs in 5 innings and the Cubs bats had no answer for Jhoulys Chacin who gave up just 3 hits over 7 strong innings.
Cubs will try to split the series with the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon with Kyle Hendricks pitching.
Cubs versus Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field
Friday, August 11 to Sunday, August 13
One of the best games in 2018 for the Cubs was not at all great early on. Max Scherzer was great for the Nationals, but Cole Hamels was great as well.
When the Nationals scored 2 runs in the top of the 9th to take a 3-0 lead it looked like the Cubs were heading to defeat.
But after the first 2 outs were recorded in the 9th, Jason Heyward reached on an error by Wilmer Difo, both Albert Almore & Willson Contreras were hit by pitches by Ryan Madsen. That set the stage for David Bote who hit a walk-off grand slam for a 4-3 Cubs victory.
A very frustrating game for the Cubs on Saturday against the Nationals. Jon Lester had a great first half, but has really struggled in the 2nd half and he had a very poor outing against the Nationals, giving up 2 home runs to Ryan Zimmerman, 9 runs (8 earned) and 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings.
The Cubs pitching staff is the team's biggest concern right now. They face a very difficult chore in winning this series facing Cy Young candidate, Max Scherzer Sunday night with Cole Hamels pitching for the Cubs. It is an ESPN game.
Cubs hitting has not been that great lately. They were shut out in the final game of the Royals series and only scored 8 runs in those 3 games.
On Friday, the Nationals Jeremy Hellickson had a no-hitter against the Cubs with 2 outs in the 6th inning. Anthony Rizzo than had a great at bat, fouling off pitch after pitch in a 13 pitch at bat that ended in a walk. Hellickson than walked Javier Baez & Ben Zobrist.
Even with a no-hitter going, Dave Martinez took Hellickson out of the game to let Sammy Solis face Jason Heyward. Heyward got the Cubs first hit of the game, driving in 2 runs to tie the game and break up the no-hitter.
In the 7th, the Cubs were able to string 3 hits together (Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ & Addison Russell) and Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead when he walked for the third time in the game.
The Cubs bullpen has been great more often than not lately and 5 Cubs relievers shut down the Nationals for the final 3 innings to preserve a 3-2 victory.
Kyle Hendricks struggled a little early in the game, giving up single runs in the 1st and 2nd innings, but he went 6 innings and didn't walk a batter for his 2nd straight game to keep the Cubs within striking distance of the Nationals.
Cubs travel to Kansas City to take on the Royals
Monday, August 6 to Wednesday August 8
Jose Quintana was pitching well as the game went into the 7th inning with the Royals leading 2-0. Adalberto's 3-run home run in the 7th gave the Royals a 5-0 lead and Tyler Chatwood struggled in the 8th, giving up an additional 4 runs in the 8th inning.
Cubs win the series 2 games to 1.
Cubs have a travel day on Thursday as the return home for a 6 game home stand against the Nationals and the 2nd place, Milwaukee Brewers.
For the 2nd straight game, the Cubs pitching does a great job in Kansas City
against the Royals. On Tuesday, it was Mike Montgomery going 6 scoreless innings and the bullpen finished it off with 3 scoreless innings. On offense, David Bote tripled and had 3 RBI.
Cubs go for the sweep on Wednesday against the Royals.
Cole Hamels had his 2nd consecutive solid start with the Cubs. Javier Baez had a home run, double & 2 RBI and Ben Zobrist, returning to Kansas City for the 1st time since he helped them win the World Series in 2015 got a nice standing ovation in his first at bat and tripled and scored the first run for the Cubs.
Cubs vs Padres at Wrigley Field
Thursday, August 2 through Sunday, August 5
Jon Lester struggled early, giving up home runs to Freddy Galvis in the 2nd inning and Franmil Reyes in the 4th inning. He went 5 innings and gave up 5 runs.
The Cubs offense was able to come back and tie the game in the 7th inning. The offense was led by Javier Baez & Anthony Rizzo had the game-tying RBI single as a pinch-hitter, but the bullpen struggled after being used quite a bit in this series.
Cubs starters have struggled to get past the 5th and 6th innings since the All-Star break. Today it showed as Carl Edwards gave up a run in the 8th inning to let the Padres take back the lead and Randy Rosario walked 2 and gave up 4 hits and 4 runs to the Padres in the 9th. Ben Zobrist 9th inning home run came up short as Padres split the 4 game series (2-2) with a 10-6 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
This game started out great, the Padres had a last minute change to the starting rotation and Walker Lockett started just his 2nd MLB game on short notice. The Cubs got to him right away, scoring 5 runs in the 2nd, highlighted by home runs by Kyle Schwarber & Anthony Rizzo. But Lockett really came back well and shut out the Cubs until the 5th inning.
For Kyle Hendricks, he looked very good early until the Padres 3 runs in the 4th. Hendricks gave up another run in the 6th before exiting the game. The bullpen, Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler & Pedro Strop were excellent. They did not give up either a hit or a walk and struck out 5 in 3 1/3 innings.
The Brewers defeated the Rockies to stay within 1 game of the Cubs lead in the
Cubs got a good start from Jose Quintana, who gave up 4 hits and a run in 6 innings. Pedro Strop struggled in the 9th inning, giving up 2 runs, but he was able to hold on to a 3 run lead to preserve a Cubs victory.
Anthony Rizzo & Javier Baez continued their hot hitting as both hit homers, Rizzo had 3 hits and Baez added an important triple in the 8th inning that added an important insurance run.
Cubs had a great chance to extend the NL Central lead to 2 games with the Brewers trailing against the Rockies, but former Cubs closer Wade Davis walked 2 batters in the ninth and gave up a walk-off 3-run home run to Eric Thames.
Padres 6 Cubs 1 at Wrigley Field
Cubs struggled against the Padres in the first of a 4 game series at home versus the Padres. Mike Montgomery did a good job getting out of some early jams, but left the game in the 6th inning when Jesse Chavez, who has been great out of the bullpen since the Cubs picked him up recently, gave up a 3-run home run to Austin Hedges.
For the bullpen, Justin Wilson & Brian Duensing also gave up runs as well in
the 7th and 8th innings.
Padres pitching completely shut down the Cubs offense. Cubs scored one run
to take a 1-0 lead in the 5th inning, but only managed 3 hits the entire game.
Robbie Erlin got the win for the Cubs and 4 Padres relief pitchers combined
for 4 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 4 strikeouts and no walks.
It'll be Tyson Ross for the Padres pitching against Jose Quintana on Friday
afternoon at Wrigley Field.
A very big win for the Cubs against the Pirates. It was nice to see a very
balanced offensive attack without much benefit from home runs (Willson Contreras extended the Cubs lead to 9-1 with the first home run of the game).
And Cubs fans got a good look at the new Cubs pitching staff as Cole Hamels looked as good as he did when he was a top pitcher for the Phillies in his Cubs debut.
Brandon Kintzler also pitched well in his Cubs debut. And Tyler Chatwood made his first relief appearance as a Cub. He did walk another batter (his big
problem all year), but closed the game out when he got a double play grounder.
After a much needed day off, the Cubs begin a 2 game series in Pittsburgh
against the Pirates.
Jon Lester gave up 3 runs to the Pirates on a David Freese double followed
by a home run by Francisco Cervelli.
The Cubs come back and tie the game when Javier Baez hits his 22nd home run
of the season and the 3 RBI give him an NL leading 82 RBI.
Freese gives the Pirates the lead back with another double in the fifth inning.
Lester was only able to complete 5 innings, and the bullpen does well until
Gregory Polanco hits a home run in the 8th inning for a 5-3 Pirates lead.
That run was important as the Cubs did score in the 9th on an Addison Russell RBI double. The ninth rally fell one run short and the Cubs take the loss.
The Cubs will try to split the quick series on Wednesday evening in Pittsburgh
as Cole Hamels makes his Cubs debut against Nick Kingham.
Cubs and Pirates series
Tuesday, July 31 to Wednesday, August 1
Tue: Jon Lester vs Jameson Taillon
Wed: Cole Hamels vs Nick Kingham
Who's hot for the Cubs?
7 day stats for Cubs players (Fangraphs):
Who's hot for the Pirates?
7 day stats for Pirates players:
Nick Kingham vs Cubs
Who has hit Kingman well?
Who's struggled against Kingham?
Jameson Taillon has not pitched against the Cubs in 2018
Who has hit Taillon well? (Career stats)
Who's struggled against Taillon?
Pirate hitters against Jon Lester (career)
Lester 2018 vs Pirates (2-0)
Sean Rodriguez 3-run home run off Lester (4/11)
Austin Meadows double and homer off Lester (5/29)
Hamels, 3-3 in 10 career appearances vs Pirates 2.93 ERA
Cole Hamels hasn't faced the Pirates since 2016
Pirate hitters (career) against Cole Hamels
It didn't look good early for the Cubs and Kyle Hendricks, but Hendricks really came back to pitch a great game to salvage the final game of the Cardinals series and avoid a sweep.
The Cubs get a day off on Monday, 7/30 and travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates for 2 games.
The Cardinals jumped on the Cubs, Jose Quintana early scoring 6 runs in the 1st inning, the big hit being a grand slam by Marcel Ozuna. For the 2nd straight day, the Cubs hitting only manages scoring runs via the home run. Cubs score just 2 runs on Javier Baez's 2-run home run.
The bullpen was great for the Cubs. New acquisition, Jesse Chavez pitched 3 scoreless innings after Quintana only finished 3 innings. Steve Cishek & Corey Mazzoni also pitched scoreless innings.
The Cardinals have won this series and go for the sweep on Sunday night baseball. Hopefully, the national audience will help the Cubs performance tonight. Kyle Hendricks pitches for the Cubs against the Cardinals, John Gant.
More news: Yu Darvish has been throwing bullpen sessions both at Wrigley Field and in St. Louis. Cubs will get some help in the starting rotation this week when newly acquired Cole Hamels pitches his first game for the Cubs Wednesday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
Luke Weaver had struggled in 3 starts versus the Cubs this year, but he pitched much better in this outing. He went six innings, did not walk a batter and gave up 8 hits with the only two runs coming on solo home runs by Anthony Rizzo & Javier Baez.
Mike Montgomery had a similar problem with having a lot of guys on base and getting out of jams early until the Cardinals scored 2 in the 3rd inning and 3 in the 4th inning to take the lead. Montgomery gave up 12 hits in just 5 innings.
The Cubs bullpen had another good outing as Randy Rosario pitched a scoreless inning with 2 strikeouts and 2 walks and Alec Mills made his Cubs debut and pitched 2 hitless innings to keep the game within reach, but the Cardinals relievers were just as good as they shut out the Cubs without a hit in the final 3 innings as well.
Next Series; Cubs versus Cardinals in St. Louis
Friday, July 27 to Sunday, July 29
The Cubs and Diamondbacks have a 4 game series that certainly resembled postseason baseball. Cubs had a tough time with the Dbacks, who pitched very well in the series and the Cubs needed a dramatic walk-off win on Thursday to split the series 2 games to 2.
The Cubs have now played 9 games in 8 days and do not get a break as they travel to St. Louis for a 3 game series versus the Cardinals. The season series with the Cardinals is very close as the Cardinals have won 7 games to the Cubs 6. The Cubs did just win the Cardinals series at Wrigley last weekend 3 games to 2.
Friday Night: Mike Montgomery pitching for the Cubs
Montgomery has faced the Cardinals 3 times in 2018.
Luke Weaver pitching for Cardinals (Friday, 7/27)
Weaver versus the Cubs in 2018
Who's hot for the Cubs & Cardinals (stats from Fangraphs for 7 day period ending on Thur, 7/26). Slash line is average, obp & slugging %
Cubs had a difficult situation with 6 games in 5 days coming out of the All-Star break. Joe Maddon's decision was to either come back with Kyle Hendricks on 3 days rest or use a starting pitcher from the bullpen or the minor leagues. His decision was to pitch Luke Farrell, who has started in the minor leagues this year, but with the Cubs has primarily pitched out of the bullpen.
This decision didn't pay off as Farrell faced 9 Diamondback hitters in the first inning, giving up 5 runs as the Diamondbacks cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley. Joe Maddon, as he did against the Cardinals, wanted to save the Cubs bullpen and brought position player, Victor Caratini in to pitch in the 8th inning. I'm glad I stayed up just late enough to watch him bring in Anthony Rizzo to get the final batter out in the top of the 9th.
The Diamondbacks take the 2nd game of the series in another well pitched game. This one was by veteran Clay Buchholz. Kyle Hendricks lasted 5 innings, getting out of some early inning trouble until giving up 3 runs in the 5th. Cubs had a chance in the 7th inning when they loaded the bases, but Archie Bradley got out of it without giving up a run.
Cubs will try to split the series with 2 day games on Wednesday & Thursday.
Jon Lester (Cubs) & Robby Ray (Diamondbacks) were both pitching very well as Cubs took a 1-0 lead into the 7th inning when AJ Pollock hit a home run off Lester, driving him out of the game and tying the game 1-1.
In the 8th inning, the Cubs benefitted by 2 Dbacks errors, the first on a throwing error on a ball hit out in front of the plate by Javier Baez. Baez was pinch-hitting, sitting out with a knee injury, which was noticeable as he was running to first and to second after the ball was thrown past first base. The 2nd error was with runners on 1st and 3rd and 1 out when Jason Heyward (also pinch-hitting) hit a soft grounder to second base and shortstop Nick Ahmed bare handed the toss to 2nd base and threw wildly to first allowing Baez to score the winning run in a 2-1 Cubs victory.
Carl Edwards pitched 2 hitless innings with 2 strikeouts and Pedro Strop gave up just one hit (a flyball that Jason Heyward lost in the sun) to finish off the Diamondbacks and earn the save.
After losing the first two games of this series, this was an important victory. And while the Cubs were winning against the Dbacks, the Brewers were losing to the Nationals to take their NL Central lead back to 2.5 games.
Without a doubt, one of the most exciting games of the 2018 season for the Cubs. Cubs starting pitcher, Tyler Chatwood walked 6 batters and was pulled in the 5th inning with runners on base and Brian Duensing gave up a grand slam to Nick Ahmed. Diamondbacks appeared to be heading foran easy victory with 6-1 lead, but the Cubs came back slowly at first, scoring 2 in the 5th and 1 in the 6th inning. In the 9th inning, Ben Zobrist walks to lead off the inning, Javier Baez lines out to centerfield and than David Bote ties the game with a 2-run home run off Dbacks closer, Brad Boxberger. After Bote's dramatic HR to tie the game, Anthony Rizzo, playing in his 1,000 career game and having not homered in the month of July hits a long walk-off home run to right field.
There are several news reports also indicating that the Cubs have acquired Cole Hamels from the Rangers to help the Cubs starting pitching rotation.
Cubs begin the 2nd half of the season with an important 5 game series at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. So far in 2018, the Cardinals have won 5 of the 8 games against the Cubs.
A few Cubs who have done well against the Cardinals:
Cubs vs Cardinals:
5 game series from Thursday, July 19 to Sunday July 22:
July 19: A familiar game for the 2018 Cubs. Starting pitcher, Kyle Hendricks struggled, throwing over 100 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings, but the bullpen pitched well enough for the bats to win the game 9-6. A very balanced effort with solid contributions from Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo, Victor Caratini & Ian Happ.
July 20: Ouch, Cardinals jump on Jon Lester early and the Cardinals cruise to an 18-5 victory. Matt Carpenter has an amazing day with 3 home runs, 2 doubles and 7 RBI.
A friend of mine and I call Joe Maddon "Uncle Joe" for some of the crazy things he will do. Uncle Joe took over on this Friday as Maddon let 3 position players (Tommy LaStella, Victor Caratini & Ian Happ) pitch to save the Cubs bullpen.
July 21: Cubs split a doubleheader against the Cardinals.
In game 1, Tyler Chatwood went 5 1/3 innings, walked 6 but only gave up one hit and one run. The bullpen allowed the Cubs hitting to take a 7-2 win.
In game 2, Mike Montgomery pitched well, but this time the Cubs bullpen could not hold an early lead, allowing the Cardinals to score in the 7th, tie the game 3-3 in the 8th and the Cardinals scored 3 in the 9th to get the lead. Matt Carpenter hit another home run. He has hit 6 home runs in this series (4 games) and has now set a team record by homering in 6 consecutive games.
Both teams have won 2 games in the series so Sunday's result will determine who wins the series.
July 22: Cubs got a good starting pitching performance from Jose Quintana. Milos Mikolas was pitching well for the Cardinals, but Cardinals manager, Mike Schildt pulled him early for a pinch-hitter and the Cubs hit well against the Cardinals bullpen. Kyle Schwarber homered, Willson Contreras drove in 2 runs and Anthony Rizzo continued to bat leadoff and do well (a walk, 2 hits and an RBI.