Cubs seek seventh straight win in series opener vs. Reds
Chicago (49-35) has outscored opponents 56-35 during its six-game winning streak, which has pushed the team 14 games above .500 for the first time this season. The Cubs have scored at least five runs in eight straight games.
Through 84 games, the Cubs’ plus-104 run differential is by far the best in the National League.
“We’re all just trying to pass it along to the next guy,” Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber said recently to The Athletic. “We obviously want to have our at-bat and help out the team in some way. Get on base somehow, drive in guys, get the guy over. Whatever it is, we want to do that. And then it’s up to the guy behind us.
“We have full faith in everyone on this team. That’s the bottom line, we want to pass it on to the next guy.”
Cincinnati (38-49) has enjoyed the same type of positive momentum in recent weeks and is playing its best baseball of the season as it arrives to Chicago’s North Side. The Reds have won four of their past five games and 13 of 17 after concluding a three-game series with the Chicago White
During the past 17 games, the Reds have scored at least five runs 14 times.
“It’s our offense, we’re never down,” Reds pitcher Sal Romano said to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Doesn’t matter how many runs we’re down, they’re able to come back and swing it.”
The rejuvenated Reds have won or tied each of their past five series.
“I think that it’s getting to the point now where teams, when they come to play us or when we come to play them, there’s a little bit of, ‘Oh, shoot, we’ve got the Reds,'” Reds pitcher Jared Hughes told the Enquirer. “That’s what we want.”
Cincinnati has won six of nine games against Chicago this season, including a four-game sweep in June.
Cubs left-hander Mike Montgomery (3-2, 3.55 ERA) is slated to make his eighth start. The 29-year-old has provided much needed stability in the rotation after highly touted free-agent signing Yu Darvish went to the disabled list.
In 14 career appearances (four starts) against the Reds, Montgomery is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA. He has walked 11 and struck out 29 in 37 1/3 innings.
Cincinnati will turn to right-hander Tyler Mahle (6-6, 3.83), who is set to make his 18th start of the season and the 22nd start of his career. The 23-year-old is 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his past six outings.
This will be Mahle’s third career start against the Cubs. In his first two meetings, both of which took place this year, he went 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA.
Cubs hitters Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez and Schwarber each have gone deep against Mahle this season. Baez has been almost perfect against the pitcher, going 4-for-5 with a triple to go along with the homer.
However, the Cubs are focused on making hard contact rather than blasting long home runs.
“We’re not trying to hit home runs,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to The Athletic. “We’re moving the baseball. We’re hitting it to all fields.”