Two things to watch for as the Cubs’ season draws to a close over the final six games.
1.) The Cubs and Pirates are tied for fourth place in the NL Central.
2.) Chicago has a chance to ruin the Cardinals’ bid for the NL Wild Card.
The Cubs have managed a (27-23) record over its last 50 games to climb into a tie with Pittsburgh for fourth place in the division at (69-87).
The Peg Legs, meanwhile, have gone in the opposite direction. They’ve lost 40 of its last 56 games since leading the division at (53-47) 100-games into the season.
None of this means a whole heckuva a lot to most of us, but I’m sure it means something to Mike Quade, who still believes he has a chance to return as the Cubs manager next season.
Finishing ahead of Pittsburgh isn’t going to determine Quade’s fate. But if the skipper does gets a chance to plead his case to the new GM, a fourth place finish is better than a fifth, while there’s no explaining a finish behind the lowly Buccos, or a 90-plus loss season.
The Cubs and Pirates split its 16-game head-to-head series at (8-8), leaving the final six games to determine the better club, at least in the standings.
The Pirates wrap up its home series against Cincinnati this weekend, followed by a final road series in Milwaukee.
The Reds haven’t play particularly well as of late, and Milwaukee, nearing the division title, could be resting its starters and setting its rotation for postseason play.
Chicago, meanwhile, hits the road to close the year with three games in St. Louis followed by a trip to San Diego, who’s been as miserable as the Cubs this year.
The Cardinals, however, have put together a red-hot September trimming a 10.5 games deficit in the Wild Card race down to 2.0 behind Atlanta.
And had they not blown a four-run lead in the ninth at home against the Mets on Thursday night, the Cards would’ve drawn within a single game of the Braves.
As it is, the Cubs still have a wonderful chance to ruin the Cardinals season this weekend. Dempster, Lopez and Wells take the ball against Carpenter (10-9), Loshe (14-8) and Edwin Jackson (5-2).
The Cards, undoubtedly, will be motivated with the hope of catching Atlanta. But the Cubs, playing with nothing to lose, are sure to match that intensity knowing they can stick a dagger in its biggest rival.
If there’s a third thing to watch for…it’s seeing if Quade will pitch to Pujols in the late innings with the game on the line. Heaven help us if Quade does so a third time this year!