Cubs Score 17 Runs to Rout Pirates and Sweep Series

Last season, the Chicago Cubs got off to a great start and never looked back in the National League Central race on their way to a record of 103-58, tops in the majors, and an eventual World Series championship. It’s been a tougher road this year, with some slow starts offensively and inconsistency in the pitching. The Cubs were just 43-45 at the All Star Break, but they came out of the break winning eight of nine. While they are in first place going into the last day of August, they’ve been unable to completely leave the St. Louis Cardinals and the surprising Milwaukee Brewers in their rear view mirror. Doing things like losing two of three at Philadelphia to the major league worst record Phillies hasn’t helped; injuries to key players that sidelined key players like pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester, and catcher Willson Contreras for varying amounts of time didn’t help.

But there are signs that the Cubs may be putting it together as the season heads into the final month. Pitcher Jake Arrieta, who had a 4-3 record with a 5.44 ERA on May 14th, has improved to 14-8 with a 3.36 ERA. Hendricks has returned, Lester will soon, and the offense has slowly gotten back on track. The Cubs completed a three game sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates August 28-30 in dominant fashion, by scores of 6-1, 4-1, and 17-3. It was the second time in less than a week that the Cubs scored 17 runs in a game. Javier Baez had this nifty steal of home in the 17-3 blowout:

The Cubs have seven games left against both the Cardinals and Brewers, so their fate is pretty much in their hands. All 16 of their other remaining games are against teams with sub.500 records. Whether the Cubs can return to the World Series this season—especially with the hot Los Angeles Dodgers as a potential playoff opponent—they should at least reach the post season again.

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